Saturday, December 3, 2016


Although I was a day scholar at college, I frequented the hostel at least two days in a week. Settling in a corner of my friend Manokaran’s room, I would start singing. Jayaram, who also sang, would join me sometimes. Hostel mates would slowly come in and in about thirty minutes, there would be a good crowd listening and calling out for more songs. After each such session, when I travelled back home, I just could not think of anything else other than songs. I consider such wonderful moments with friends to be very precious. Even today, when there are small unions with friends, the same singing happens, but still, those times at college remain as beautiful patches.

I had a cousin sister with whom I had the opportunity to discuss many Malayalam songs. She was blessed with a great voice and there were songs that I always wanted her to sing again and again. She also would very keenly listen to the songs I sang. There were many moments we spent, singing and discussing the finer aspects of the songs. In 1993, in her twenties, she left for her heavenly abode after a battle with aplastic anaemia. In a forest, where lots of birds sing, even the absence of one, makes a difference. Her songs still remain in the song space that surrounds me.

My marriage was in 1993 and my wife never knew about this craze that I had. Whenever we went out together, I always had a song running on me, either humming or singing. My wife often nudged me to draw my attention to people who were watching me. She found this to be very embarrassing and calls me crazy. I have still not got out of this habit as yet.

On an afternoon in the hot month of May, 1996, my
colleague, who is my good friend and I, stepped out for lunch and were walking through the shop floor. This was while I was with my first employer. I never knew that he had actually come out after a hot board room discussion. We moved towards the company canteen silently and I was humming a favourite song that was on my mind, a little louder. I knew that I could hum it even louder as my song would never be heard by anyone 15 feet away due to the din of the machines around. I sang a little louder. A third person joined us while we were on the way. He was part of my colleague's team and on seeing him, my colleague started off with the same topic that had been discussed in the board room. I was still humming and singing a bit loudly. Seeing my casual demeanour while such a serious topic was being discussed by him, he suddenly yelled a question "Why can't you keep quiet?” at me. It really rattled me. I should have been careful I thought. He immediately apologized for what he did, but I too felt I should have desisted from such behaviour that time.

In 2000, my first employer sent me for a management training programme at Lonavala. This was for a week’s duration. There were participants from several corners of India, belonging to the same company. One person named Kumar, with whom I was teamed up for working sessions and presentations treated me with sheer disdain, right from day one. It really put me off and also hurt me so much, that I could not focus on the sessions that were running. I really did not know why he was doing that either. On the last day, there was an open session around evening time, where the participants could entertain the gathering. I was also one of the few who sang a few songs in Hindi and Malayalam. Kumar came to me and was effusive in his praise for my singing. Thereafter, the way he talked to me and treated me was so different. That evening, many other participants called me to their places in the hotel, where they were meeting as small groups and made me sing.

In the year 2003, I joined my second employer at Kolkata. My wife and daughter had not moved with me as she was into an established job at Chennai and my daughter was into school. So I was shuttling between Kolkata and Chennai once in three or four months. The Howrah mail took a long time and so the Coromandel Express was what I always preferred to for coming down to Chennai. The return was by flight, as that way crunched down on the sad period of thinking while leaving home. I had a good Walkman with me and I had just caught up with Salilda's Bengali film songs. On one such trips to Chennai, I was on the middle berth and with my earphones on me, I was singing along while the song was running. I never knew that my singing was that loud. When we touched early evening and I had climbed down from my berth to sit down for a while, a Bengali lady who was travelling with her little son complimented me for the singing. She also gave me a Chocolate pie that they were having then and told me to always keep singing.

Kolkata gave me a new high in singing. There was a corporate Anthakshari competition, for which I also had mailed in my nomination. I still don’t know Hindi although I keep singing a lot of Hindi numbers. On the night before the competition, my friend and roommate Ankur, spent his valuable time, to explain the meaning of the songs that I had selected for singing. I had written down the script in English. In the first round which was an individual round, I sang three Hindi songs and I got lots of appreciation from the judges for my voice and singing. And then, they started talking to me in Hindi on something else they wanted me to sing along with another colleague. I did not know how to respond. The colleagues with whom I went were also new to me and they also did not know why I was displaying an embarrassed silence when the judges were asking me. I did not want to show any sign of my ignorance of Hindi as I thought that it would go in as a negative point. Nevertheless in the team round, we as a team could not qualify and move further. But, that was the first time, an external judge was complimenting my singing and it gave me real confidence. The very next week, I was on a stage at Kolkata and I sang a Hindi number.

The singing craze still continues even when age is going up in numbers. Many times I wonder if it’s time to keep quiet. But frankly, am not able to.


Anonymous said...

Regarding your last sentence in the blog, v have a saying Old habits die hard :-). Just Kidding. Trust me, singing helps u forget tat u r not lonely. My singing is absolute crap, and lot of people told me to stop harassing them, yet i keep singing.

Saigopal said...

You have an awesome voice Roy, keep going. I still remember when you used to sing for us during lunch time in college. I also feel sorry for your cousin who passed away.

Sai Gopal said...

You have an awesome voice Roy, keep going. I still remember when you used to sing for us during lunch time in college. I also feel sorry for your cousin who passed away.

Roy Cherian Cherukarayil said...

@Blue: Thnx ...seeing your spirit fills me with spirit :)
@ Sai: Thnx much da...yes all those gatherings at different spots in our many memories :)


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