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- Story Listed as: Fiction For Adults
- Theme: Survival stories / Success stories
- Subject: Art / Music / Theater / Dance
- Published: 10/12/2019
It was almost 9 am. It took him more than 6 hours to reach Thiruvarur on a taxi from Chennai Airport. He has heard a lot about the Thyagaraja Temple in this city. Built at the time of the Chola Empire, this temple has the maximum number of shrines for any temples in India. It was built in a vast land of 33 acres.
He knew there was not enough time to go sightseeing. But he took a little bit of it to see the famous chariot in the temple. It is believed to be the biggest one in Asia. The chariot weighed more than 300 tonnes and was almost 100 meters in height. It had 8 sides to it and ran on 4 iron wheels. He touched the wheels to get a feel of it and then took pictures of its 8 sides on the mobile. Then he hastened to make it to her house.
About 15 minutes ride from there and he was outside her mansion. He didn't remember seeing a house this big on the way to this city. There were no security guards for this house, either. That was a surprise. One could just walk right in. He paid the taxi, took his backpack, and opened the gate making his way inside.
It was a white house made of marble. There was nothing subtle about this 4 storey house on a property that stretched acres. It seems the occupants really wanted to stand out. The house was a fusion of modern and traditional Chettinad architecture. These people are really living life to the fullest. The entire premises was rich with greenery. There is at least 7 types of fruits in the front yard itself. And as he expected, there was music in the air.
Amara Izhaiyini is one of the most prominent Carnatic musicians in India. Last year, she was awarded the Sangeetha Kalanidhi, which is one of the highest honours that you can get as a Carnatic vocalist. She was sitting on the courtyard listening to the song "Maadu meikum kanne," originally composed by Oothukkadu Venkata Kavi.
Frank recognised this to be Chenchurutti ragam. A ragam is a melodic framework that is found in both the Indian classical forms, that is, Hindustani and Carnatic. In Hindustani, they call it Raga. Ragam is the core of Carnatic music. Another essential part of this form of music is the bhava (emotion). Without your bhava there is no ragam.
Each Carnatic musician should leave a mudra (seal). That is exactly what Amara acheived with her career. If he has to dedicate his entire life in learning the art from anyone, then without hesitation, he would choose her and only her. But there is no knowing that she will accept him or not.
He has been standing in front of her for a good 3 minutes now. She hasn't uttered a word. She just sat on her cozy sofa, seemingly reviewing the recording of her own performance from a recent concert.
'I'm Frank Houston,' he said with a trembling voice. She gestured with her hand to sit on the floor next to her. He looked around and saw a man trimming the bushes in the garden. He too didn't seem to care much. Frank sat next to her. 'I'm Frank Huston. I'm originally from New Zealand. Although I was in Gwalior for the past 6 years.'
'Learning from the Gwalior Gharana?,' she inquired. It is the oldest Khyal Gharana in Indian Classical music. Gharanas are a comprehensive musicological ideology. He nodded in agreement. 'Who did you train under?'
'Well, recently under Dr. Ram Deshpande.'
'Sing me something, ' she said. Frank was a bit nervous. He cleared his throat and took a deep breath. He sung "Bandish," in the raga Jog Kauns. It is an intricate modern raga created by Pandit Jaganath Buwa Purohit in the 1940s. He sung for the whole 7 minutes.
Singing without an orchestra was no easy task. When he finished he looked at her with curiosity. She was smiling. She had a hand on her chin. 'Your voice sounds so Indian. Reminded me of Ustad Rashid Khan.'
Now that was no ordinary compliment. He was ecstatic to hear that. Being a Leo, he loved compliments. But here is his idol. So he tried to act cool.
'Sounds very familiar,' she remarked.
'No, your name. Frank Huston, have heard it somewhere. ' She pondered on it a bit. 'Anyways, tell me why someone who took the pain of leaving his country and settling so far away learning a music form, which is thousands of years old, now wants to learn Carnatic music? You have learned so much of Hindustani music in 6 years? Why leave all that for something new?'
'I don't know, it's like a calling. Carnatic music seems so different from anything I've heard or learned. Now, don't get me wrong, Hindustani music has so many different styles and modulations as you know. But there is something about Carnatic music that just feels so fulfilling. Like the recording you were listening to! The words keep on spiralling and vibrating. It touches your soul in a different way.'
'You are talking about the Manodharmik aspect.'
She laughs. 'Manodharma is the heart of Carnatic music. It means improvisation. You see, Frank. There is Carnatic music in everything around us. All that that falls in your ears are actually Carnatic music. But the beauty about it is every inch of it can be improvised. Now, you can't change the lyrics of a song. But the Carnatic musician can improvise it in any way within its limits. The challenge is how you stand out from all those who have been perfecting their own manodharma for thousands of years.'
'I understand what you are trying to say. At the same time, I wonder how you understood what I'm here for. How did you know that I'm here to learn?'
'When I asked you to sit, you removed your sandals and obeyed me like you have been doing to a guru. A tourist or a reporter won't be willing to look up to a woman from the floor like the way you are doing right now.'
'So, does that mean you will teach me?'
'Well, Frank. Now, I don't mind you learning different musical forms. That's your personal choice. Even I have sung contemporary songs for movies. I wouldn't mind you leaving Carnatic music to learn something else one fine day, either. But I would like to know what contentment you get when you practice Indian Classical music. What you have to say on that will help me decide, whether I would want to teach you or not.'
Frank thought hard. Then he closed his eyes and took a deep breath. 'When I sing, I feel like a messenger and that I'm delivering a message from a different source of energy. Sometimes, that source of energy feels so powerful that I forget where I am or what I'm doing. I forget that I'm singing. I won't be even sure that I'm breathing or not. And then, there is this euphoria, there is this overwhelming sensation that makes you cry and smile at the same time. That feeling, is what makes me want to learn and explore more of this form of music. I feel Carnatic music will help me explore more of this world unknown.' Frank opened his eyes and looked at her. He put his palms together in front of his chest. 'Like you recognised the student in me, I have accepted you as my teacher quite some time ago. I beg you to make me your disciple.'
She looked at the man who was in the garden. The man had his hands on his hips. He has been watching and listening to them the whole time.
It was then Frank noticed her gorgeous brown eyes. Her hair was long and black. She was more prettier in person. She was 40 years old. She looked like the goddess, which was carved on those temple murals, had just come to life.
'The truth is I have not taught anyone seriously, Frank,' she said. 'If I decide to teach you then I will only do it in the way my master taught me, which is the Guru-sishya traditional way. '
Frank knows what this means. This is not something that you see in today's world. According to this tradition, the student will have to completely submit himself to the teacher. This is a very spiritual relation, where the disciple not only acquires knowledge from the guru, but has to adopt the teacher's ideologies. The disciple will learn from the guru how to deal with all the aspects of life and follow it to the tee. The disciple is to inherit all the attributes of the guru. It literally becomes the way of living. Frank had no problem with this. However, he has never heard of a guru of this tradition being a woman. He had no issues with that, either. He accepted without a second thought.
'Great! Frank, you will have to pay me a gurudakshina before we start,' she said with a huge smile. Gurudakshina is a gift of gratitude to the teacher. It can be anything that the teacher wants.
'Absolutely. What is that I can get you?' he asked.
'Well, did you have your breakfast?'
'No, but I'm fine,' said Frank. Amara called to her maid to bring some food to the courtyard. The maid came with a platter of Upma, a glass of water, and a finger bowl. Amara washed her fingers and took the platter. The maid kept the glass of water on a coffee table beside her.
'You see, I was about to go somewhere. Since it is an auspicious journey neither of us can go inside the house. It's bad omen. You've had a long journey. So I'm guessing your hands might be too dirty even for a finger bowl. Hence, I'm gonna feed you with my own hands.' Frank did not hesitate. She fed him with her own hands. He has had similar moments of affection ever since he has been learning music in India. These music artists set no limit when they express their emotions, whether its affection or anger. He has experienced his share of both these virtues.
When he was done she cleaned her fingers and asked her maid for another bowl of lukewarm water with a slice of lemon in it. She dipped her fingers on it again and wiped the lips of Frank like how an Indian mother would do to her child.
Amara was draped in a maroon Madisar Iyer Saree. It was only when she stood up that Frank realised something was different. For his shock, she appeared to be heavily pregnant. The woman stood there taking heavy breaths.
'I woke up this morning and I was breathing easier. You know what that means, Frank? It means the baby is settling down. We will have to move to the hospital today.'
'We? Y-you mean I should come with you?'
'Take your bag along. It will be just us. My husband can't stand being at hospitals. I'm sure this will give us a good opportunity to know each other better,' she said giggling. She walked out towards her vintage Mercedes Benz. The chauffeur opened the door. He then opened the boot of the car for Frank's luggage. Frank saw that it was packed with other bags. He loaded his luggage and joined her on the backseat. Her husband was nowhere to be seen. The chauffeur drove the car on a slow and steady pace till they reached the hospital.
At the TMC hospital, Amara was treated with a lot of respect by the staff. They were expecting her arrival and ensured that she had no worries checking in a room. Frank saw that there were two beds in her room. One was the bigger one for the patient and the other one was a smaller one for a bystander. The room was air conditioned. It had a flat screen television also. Frank kept the luggage inside the cupboard. The chauffeur walked in with the other bags and kept it neatly along with Frank's bags.
A nurse then took her pressure as she lay down. They spoke in their native Tamil language.When she left the room Amara took the TV remote and browsed through the channels. Frank just kept quiet.
After some time another nurse came to change her to an hospital gown. Frank left the room. He was called back by the nurse when they were done.
By 3 pm the main doctor arrived. He seemed to be a huge fan of Amara. They spoke like they have known each other for years. He had great admiration for her it seems.
'Who is this young man?' he asked pointing at Frank.
'Oh, Dr. Iyer. That's my personal gynecologist from the United States. He will be with me as I give birth. It will give me some courage. I hope you will be okay with it,' she said. Frank was shocked. He couldn't figure out what was going on. He tried to maintain his composure. The doctor seemed to be a bit taken aback by this also.
'B-but Amaraji, this is against the hospital rules. Now, forget the rules. Anything for you, but is it because you don't trust me? We never discussed anything about this previously,' said the doctor.
'What can I say, Dr. Iyer? These are the perils of being a celebrity. Dr. Frank was forced to come over because of this contract I have with an American music company who are sponsoring the upcoming 50 concert tours around the world. He is supposed to give them a report of my well being. These reports will come on all the international tabloids. Dr. Iyer, I think you should get ready for some international recognition overnight. Your name's going to come up on so many papers in America,' she said playfully.
'Really?' said the doctor. He seemed excited. He went towards Frank and shook his hands. 'Of course, this is fine,' he said to Amara. 'We will take great care of you, Amaraji. You and the baby are in good hands.' Dr. Iyer smiled at them both and then left the room.
Amara turned to Frank. He was bemused. 'This is the gurudakshina I'm asking you for. You need to be with me through my delivery.'
'Teacher, I'm scared! I can't do this. I'm petrified by all this!'
'And so am I!' she said. 'So be with me. I can't do this without someone to hold my hand. My husband won't, because he can't see me in pain. I'm scared too. So you do this, now!' She was breathing heavy now. Frank wanted to ask if there wasn't anyone else that she could call to be with her. He wanted to ask if there was no family members or friends she was close with. But he didn't. He has vowed to serve his guru unconditionally. These things are taken seriously in this tradition.
That night Frank was woken up from a deep sleep when she gave out a loud cry. He panicked a bit and called for the nurse on the floor. She came running to their room. The nurse lifted Amara's gown and spread her legs wide. Frank was embarrassed by this. He turned around. The nurse examined her. 'Your cervix has just begun to dilate, ma'am. It seems you're on 1 cm now. Its only phase 1. How do you feel?' asked the nurse.
'I feel this strong sense of pain. It comes and goes. I can almost feel my uterus. My back hurts and so does my abdomen.'
'Don't worry, ma'am. That could happen. Its called the Braxton Hicks contractions. Did you sleep on your left side for long?'
'No, I don't think so,' she replied.
'Oh, then you must be dehydrated. Have you had anything to eat today?' asked the nurse. Amara hasn't had anything from morning. She asked for some hot water to drink. The nurse left the room to get it. She forgot to straighten Amara's gown on the process.
'Frank, Frank!' called out Amara. 'Look at me.' Frank turned to face her. 'Don't act up like that. You're a doctor to them. Act the part. I don't want you to look uncomfortable no more. Not at this time. Alright?' Frank nodded. He walked towards her and lowered her dress. The nurse came with the water. Amara took few sips and tried to relax. She thought maybe she could try to get some sleep. The wait supposedly had to continue for now.
She had several more episodes of pain that night. It woke up Frank quite a few times. Amara didn't want to bother him after a point. She tried to bite on to her lips trying not to let any sound out. The pain was so intense at times that she bit too hard till her lips bled.
The next morning Dr. Iyer diagnosed her and said the cervix has dialated up to 4 cms. Her water has not broke yet. So they will have to wait. She still had those strong contractions. After the doctor had left Amara would make Frank call the nurse time and time again. On her request, the nurse would insert her hand into her vagina as Frank looked on. The nurse was trying to induce the water break. Each time as she did that Amara would let out a cry of pain. Frank felt dizzy by all this. A part of him wanted to run away or, at least, look away. He can't even afford to flinch. These are things you hardly plan for in life.
By noon, Amara had lost her cool. She was tired, in pain, and now impatient. She called for Dr. Iyer. The doctor came with a few other nurses with him. 'Doctor, please do something! The nurse must have gone inside me at least 40 times and it burns every time. Please do something and break the damn water.' The doctor tried to calm her with a smile.
'Well, then lets get the hook I say,' Dr. Iyer said to Frank. "The hook," was all Frank heard. He didn't even want to imagine what that could be. But he reacted with a nervous smile. Dr. Iyer sat on a stool next to her bed. He slowly massaged her vagina with a gel. Then he tried to divert her concentration by humming a kirtana. He then put his hand inside her vagina trying to break the amniotic fluid. He took the amniotomy hook, which was yellow, long, and slender. He inserted it in and twisted it and then pulled at it. Amara gave a cry as he did that.
'What's happening? Where am I? I feel like I'm floating,' she whined.
'Not to worry, Amaraji. We broke your fluid. Its just a little water here and there. Calm down. There is plenty of action to follow, ' said Dr. Iyer as he got up from the seat. He then left the room.
Frank sensed a pungent smell in the room. The liquid around her was like pea soup. He watched the nurses clean her and wipe her. Frank held a straight face.
Back at her home, Amara's husband Sivaraman Marar was busy with the lathe kept in the garage. He was the percussionist in all of Amara's performances. He used to play the Mridangam, a double-sided drum. A percussionist has the most important role in the part in the success of a concert. They said if you have Marar by your side, then it's like you have an whole orchestra.
Usually, a mridangam can last up to a hundred years. Marar takes good care of his instrument and makes the necessary repairs after every performance. But he always felt that an instrumentalist should be able to make his own instrument. He was never able to until today.
Few days ago, Marar cut the jackfruit tree in their garden. He took the trunk intending to make the mridangam. Today he made it hollow with his lathe. Then he made the exterior smooth. Then he polished it and put the dried buffalo and cow skin leather on both the mouths of the aperatus. He carefully made 12 holes on either sides and laced it with leather straps. He wound it with great tension so that they resonate well.
The two sides had different diameters. He anointed the outer layer of the smaller side with a black disk at its center. A mixture of ferric oxide powder, starch and rice flour was used for this. He inserted few iron balls on the sides and then sealed the gap between the first layer of skin and the inner layer. After setting it to dry for few hours he weighed the instrument. It showed 22 pounds on the scale.
For female singers you need the Sthaayi Shruti Mridangam. He checked all the necessary dimensions. This 22 inch long barrel had the perfect dimensions at all ends. He checked the quality of the instrument. The bass and treble was perfect.
Back in the hospital, almost an hour after breaking her amniotic fluid, Amara's cervix is now dialating. 2 nurses held each of her thighs. Her cervix has now completely dialated. The contractions are strong, but the nurses are asking her not to push. Dr. Iyer and Frank are in the room. There was another male nurse with towels standing near the desk that had all the apparatus required.
'Dr. Frank, the child's head is coming down rapidly. This could mean tear on the soft-tissue. I think we should do the episiotomy. Do you concur?' asked Dr Iyer.
'Sure, absolutely, ' replied a sweaty Frank behind him. Dr. Iyer took a small dose of anesthesia and injected it into her perineum. The easiest thing for Frank to do now would be to faint. A bloodied little human being coming out of another person is probably the scariest thing a young man could witness. Dr. Iyer then put two fingers inside her vagina. He took a pair of scissors from the desk with his left hand.
'I'm going for a mediolateral incision so that we can avoid any damage to the anus area,' said the doctor. The doctor then made a cut on the exterior of her vagina further widening the gap for the baby.
Amara gave a large cry. At that precise moment, her subconscious mind remembered a quote from the legend Tyagaraja, who along with his contemporaries are considered the trinity of Carnatic music. He said,"elagani vivarimpa leu chala swanubhava vedyame." (I cannot explain it to you, it can only be experienced). Whilst he was talking about the euphoria that the music sometimes gives, she felt the same way under the fold of excruciating pain of giving birth. It was like all her ribs were crushing at the same time. It felt like they were crushing against her heart and every other vital organ inside.
Frank could now see the head of the baby. Dr. Iyer held its head with his palm. He put the scissors away. She pushed and puffed a few times. Finally, the baby's shoulder was out and the doctor pulled him out. One of the nurses let go of Amara's leg. The doctor placed the baby on her stomach. He tried to avoid the gush of a little bit of fluid coming out of her. He acheived that by pressing a towel over her vagina.
The nurse took a towel and wrapped the baby. Frank noticed the umbilical cord. Amara seemed okay. The second nurse now let go of the other leg. She immediately gave Amara an injection on her left hand. The injection took a whole minute. Dr. Iyer took another scissors, this time a longer one and placed it on the cord. Another pair of scissors was given to Frank. He was asked to clamp the cord along with him. Frank followed the instructions. He looked at the baby now held by the mother at her chest. It was a baby girl.
The most relieved man in the room was Frank. It is finally over he thought to himself. But how wrong he was. Dr. Iyer then pressed his hands against her vaginal bone. He slowly and measurably pulled the cord. Bit by bit he kept pulling until a chunk of flesh came out of her. Frank felt he had pulled out her organ. It was the bloodiest and ugliest thing he had seen. It was like a gore scene from a horror movie, only worse. It was her placenta.
Dr. Iyer then moved out of the seat and the male nurse now took his place. Frank breathed a sigh of relief. Then a nurse took away the baby momentarily. The male nurse then without any warning started stitching away the incision like Amara was some rag doll. She just covered her eyes with her left hand trying to hide away the pain. It was as if she didn't even care anymore to give out a cry. She also was zapped of energy. Little did she knew these stitches will be felt for the next few months.
The baby was given back to her. It was put against the bare skin of her chest. The little one sniffed and sensed against the scent of her skin. The nurse helped her to find her breast and she drank for the first time.
Frank followed Dr. Iyer and excused himself out of the room. He slowly walked out of the room. On the hallway he saw Marar sitting on a chair. He had a cloth bag with him. A part of Frank wanted to slap him. But he walked past him in search of the pantry.
He ordered two coffees to go and waited for it in the counter.
'You should eat something!' said Dr. Iyer who came from behind. 'Shall I order a masala dosa? We'll have some food together. '
'No, thank you. I'm fine,' he said refusing the offer. 'What about her? She hasn't had anything for more than a day.'
'Oh, don't worry about her. Mothers are stronger than you think. Don't worry, the nurses will take care of her,' said Dr. Iyer with a smile. He looked at his tired eyes with a smile. 'You know, Frank, I have known her for 11 years and have seen all her performances in this country during this period. I admire her in every way. I consider her as one of my close friends. But I must say yesterday was the first time she ever lied to me.'
Frank didn't know what to say. He understood what he meant. The man is a very experienced doctor. You don't expect him to be fooled like that. Especially, after what he saw Frank go through. His coffee had arrived. Dr. Iyer patted on his back and walked away to be seated on a table. Frank took his coffee and left the pantry.
He gave a cup to Marar and sat on a chair next to his. Marar accepted it and took few small sips. 'I'm 57 years old, you know?' said Marar. 'I have seen everything in life. Music has taken us around the world. It gave us fame and money. We saw a lot, learned a lot, and taught as much. The experience of seeing the world gave us an impression that we were prepared for everything that life has to offer. How wrong were we?' Marar paused to look at his face. Frank could see he was in pain. 'Amara married me knowing that I could never be a father. It never mattered to us. We were happy all by ourselves. But look how life has surprised us?' Marar took a deep breath. He drank a little more from the cup. 'Few months ago, we were doing a concert in the United States. After the show, we all went back to the hotel. It was very late into the night. I and the boys decided to go out for a drink. Amara wanted to get some sleep. So I took the keys with me. Maybe I didn't lock the door properly, I'm not sure. When we came back it was almost morning. I saw 3 Indian men, I think fans from the show, entering the lift on the floor we were staying. We were the only occupants there, but I was too drunk to give it much thought. I just went to bed and crashed. I didn't even realise what state she was in. When I woke up the next afternoon, I saw the marks on her face and body. She was just frozen on the bed like that the whole time. She was raped.'
Frank didn't know how to react to this. What questions do you ask? He wasn't sure what is the right thing to say. 'There is nothing we could have done. We musicians are seen as instruments of god. For the first time, that stature felt like a curse. Our fame meant that we couldn't even cry aloud. We devoted our lives for something so heavenly. We didn't even know how to react to such atrocities. Do you know how many women in this country gets violated, but chose to remain silent because of the shame the system will put them through? Their suffocation is merely seen as nothing more than just erotic stories. Doesn't that make you sick?' asked Marar.
'Never in our wildest dream did we imagine this will happen to us; that too in a foreign country. All we could have done is forget about it and be home as soon as possible. She just wanted to go back home. I too believed that there is no purpose in going after those devils. Going for justice will be like reliving those moments a thousand times over for someone's sick pleasure. I don't think she will be able to handle that also. So we came back.'
Frank wanted to console this man, but he knew he won't be able to. So he remained a good listener.
'But that was just the beginning. She was trying to forget and barely moving on when we realised that there is a life growing inside her. She was so lost in the trauma that it was too late when we came to know of this. Even if we wanted to do something about it, it was just too late.'
'I'm sorry,' said Frank.
'Now, don't be under the impression that I hate the child. We are just musicians who learn to spread love. Its Amara's child. Its my child. Its just, I can't see her in pain. I love her so much to see her suffer,' he said with a smile. Frank reciprocated that smile. 'Now, you must be feeling why you had to go through all that. Oh, no! It is not because I can't handle the situation. That is not the reason at all.'
'Then may I ask why?' asked Frank.
'Well, when you said that you feel like a messenger when you sing, maybe she thought that there is perhaps a message that you could deliver with your music. Maybe she thought that through you the world can see the struggle of a woman, the struggle of a mother. Maybe she thought that the future generation can learn to treat women like human beings. Maybe she thought that one day you will be such a great performer that millions will listen to you, and on that day you could perhaps deliver this message from your guru. I guess that's what it is. I know her too well. No, that is exactly what it is. I always stand by her and think later. I guess I was right this time also.' Marar pondered on his own thoughts. Then he got up and asked Frank to lead him to her room. Frank carried his bag on the way.
At the room, they saw the nurse massaging her abdomen. It was for her uterus to relax. Marar went in and kissed his wife's forehead. He embraced her and kissed her cheek. Then he turned to see the baby. His eyes had a twinkle on them. Frank kept the bag and gently closed the door from outside. He then went out for some fresh air.
As he walked through the city he looked at the world with a new perception. He noticed how most families had more than two children. He couldn't understand why women would want to go through so much pain again and again. Why would they even want to have a child? Is it to prove the manhood of their husband? And even if that is the case why would a woman like Amara want to go through all this? Does she even know who amongst the three is the father of the child? That is too hard a question.
Frank couldn't even understand why he would capitulate to such a demand she made. This now felt like slavery. Just because he had a dream, it doesn't mean he had to be anyone's puppet.
That night he spent on a bench in the bus station. Any place away from the hospital was ideal for him. He couldn't still decide whether he should prolong this madness or not. Then he thought about his mother. He hasn't called her for a week now. He remembered her saying that life after a C-section was never the one she imagined in her wildest dreams. Now he understands what that meant. It could have been far worse than what Amara went through today. That thought about his mother calmed his mind a bit.
One thing classical music teaches you is to value everything in life. It teaches you to respect all elements of nature, even those that one can hardly see or hear. There is always this spiritual vibe around you when you indulge in this genre of music. You don't even have to be a master to experience it. Practicing it and perfecting it is probably what helped Amara and her husband to move on with life.
Frank wondered if the most important lesson that Amara is trying to teach him is not to improvise on just the alapanas, but to apply that manodharma on all aspects of life. When music teaches you to listen and respect everything, it also includes all the anarchy that could fall on one's path. You learn to make the best out of even the worst of things.
The next morning, Frank has still not decided on how to go forward from here. A part of him wanted to check on her. So he went back to the hospital. As he entered her room the nurse was assisting her to get off the bed. She almost fell down when she stood up. She then noticed Frank and playfully winked at him. She slowly walked towards the chair with the help of the nurse. The nurse kept a pillow on the chair and she sat next to Marar who had the Mridangam on his lap.
'Frank, you know what is a thillana, right? In a Carnatic music concert you end it with a fun and frolic musical composition. When I was young, I used to wonder why does it have to end that way? Its so vibrant and upbeat that I wondered will people even remember all the other kirtanas when they go back home? But as I got older I realised what it really meant.' She took the baby from the nurse's hand and kept her on the lap. 'Thillana is a celebration for a new beginning. With it, we're reminding people life has more to it than you really think. Therefore, let's welcome our newborn with something called a Kalinga Narthana Thillana.'
Marar started playing the mridangam. Frank could see she was in pain. Even the nurse seemed anxious. Soon, the room was filled with this ethereal composition by Oothukkadu Venkata Subba Iyer from the 16th century. The song never could have been sung on a more auspicious occasion. The moment reminded Frank a picture of Yashoda and baby Krishna. It was at that juncture that he decided to submit his life to this guru. He fell on the ground flat on his torso to touch her feet. He lay there as they kept on with the composition. Cold water drops trickled down her to the floor from the ice bag pack pressed against the stitches between her legs.
It seemed like the baby was smiling when she heard the lines,
"yamuna taTAka tungatarangam
himagarasnimita yamita subaangam
itas tatastara karunApAngam
yadivara hrudaya sarOruhabangam
dinata tillana dinata tillana dinata tillana dhigirtakiTa tillana
anakasindoora anakasringAra madana gambeera
(Translation: In the waves of the Yamuna river,
Krishna’s graceful limbs are soaked in moonlight.
His compassionate glance is looking here and there.
He is the honeybee to the lotus-like hearts of the great sages.
He has a sindoor tilak on his forehead, curly locks of hair, and a majestic face,
and his feet are rapidly hitting the hoods of the serpent.