Post Series: The first Indian rock star


“Yeah, he’s sleeping right now.”

“Looks good as of now.”

“He was in extreme pain so I gave him Ibuprofen

“Yes”

“O.K.”

“Yes, of course that would probably be the best thing to do. He should be admitted to hospital under your guidance.”

“No, not an issue because his board exams were over like… two months ago.”

“Sure. We’ll be there in the morning. 7 A.M?”

“Thank you”

Dad put the receiver of the phone down and walked all the way around my bed to switch off the light of my room. And at the same time I surreptitiously opened one of my eyes to look at the clock. It read 5 in the A.M. Suddenly Dad leaned against me to give me a kiss on my forehead.

I was suffering from acute pain on the lower right hand side of my stomach area. It was probably due to the presence of stones. I was in mild pain for about 1 week, and that too only while urinating. But, that pain was nothing compared to what I felt today. It all started around 3 A.M. when I was asleep and then suddenly it felt like someone started punching my belly. I almost thought of tearing my belly wide open and taking the pain away. My Dad heard me screaming and came into my room. He was aware about my occasional pain while urinating and was sure that the pain was on account of kidney stone, as he himself was a doctor. He speedily brought a glass of water and a tablet (Ibuprofen). The pain did rush away after that medicinal drug. But not totally, there was still a mild pain, but it was bearable. He told me to sleep so that I could divert my mind from the pain.

I couldn’t stop thinking about the JAM-2016. It is the biggest event in our city in which music aspirants participate. The winner gets not only recognition but also an opportunity to perform in front of Dev Malik, India’s number one musician. I was practicing for a month for my solo performance.It was only a week away and I couldn’t afford to miss it. It was my only shot to prove myself to my father. I was in a dilemma, should I carry my guitar all the way to hospital? Will they allow it? If not, then how could I practice? I could not stop myself from thinking about it. For a moment I almost forgot about the pain, but the worst part is that it made me anxious.

“Come on, get into the car, what are you thinking?” Dad said in a high tone. I looked at him with a pleading face, but asked him in a careless and coolest way possible, “Hey Dad, do you think a guitar would be a nice idea. You know it could be a bit boring there and maybe I should have some stuff with me to make sure that my mind gets occupied and so the whole pain-thing is …” He interrupted, “For heaven’s sake Tarun, we are going to the hospital!” “O.K. Bad idea Dad. I was just thinking about…” I didn’t even bother to complete the sentence and on the entire journey from home to hospital I kept mum and behaved like a patient. As it should be! Although the pain levels were increasing slowly, Ibuprofen did a good job to reduce the pain for a couple of hours.

At hospital. Room 202.

“All right, so how are you… amm…?” The nurse forgot my name so she looked into the sheet she brought with her. “Tarun! Yes. Tarun, so tell me how are you feeling?” I told her that I was feeling much relaxed, but, still had some mild pain, and then she told me I would be going through some mandatory tests like X-ray and also sonography to identify the location of the stone. After that they would decide what kind of treatment was needed. Until then they would keep me under medication.

I was admitted to a deluxe room. The room had the smallest possible television set and finding the remote for the same was always a tough task. There were two beds. The second bed was occupied by someone else. The room had the typical sharp infirmary smell. Like a kind of spirit and it used to hit those who came into our room for the first time right in the nostrils. And to my delight my room partner was in sleep mode, so I had my moments to soak up the new environment. I can’t recall when I went into a deep sleep.

“Oh, shut up! Don’t give me that lame excuse all the time. If you really want to cure anything in this hospital then cure this piece of the radio link switch. It never works. How would I know if you get my beep message? I’m not sure, do you really keep it with you or throw it in your drawer? Oh, forget it, give me a shot, do your job, and get the hell out of here!” Yes that must be my room partner. Looks like he did not enjoy his breakfast. After some time the nurse at whom he was yelling opened the curtain. That man sat down to tie the threads of his gown. I could only see his back. But as soon as he lay down on his bed and kept his head on his pillow I could see his face and then suddenly I said, “Farhan D’Souza! Oh, my God!” I was speechless. That was India’s first Rockstar, Farhan. I remained stupidly inarticulate and kept blabbering. The only thing I remembered were the first words that came out from his mouth.

“Ah, listen, what is your name? O.K. forget about that, that is not the point. I’m feeling really sleepy. So, have a good day.” And he went to sleep. And I went on replaying this incident in my head for as long as I could.

I woke up in the middle of the night as I was feeling too cold. I decided to open the gallery and sat there for a few minutes.

“Living is easy with eyes closed,

Misunderstanding is all you see

It’s getting hard to be someone

But it all works out

It doesn’t matter much to me…”

 the first indian rock star part 1

I quietly sat down in the balcony to listen to Farhan Sir. He played his own cover of the John Lennon song Strawberry Fields Forever. The Beatles’ music always appealed to me. They were one of the original rockstar bands of the world. It’s been 45 years since they broke up, but their songs, lyrics, guitar work still sound refreshing. Meanwhile, when I was thinking about all this I didn’t notice that Mr. Farhan had stopped playing and was looking at me. “Just tell me you didn’t bring in the audience with you.” I almost broke into laughter, but assured him that I hadn’t informed any of the hospital staff. He was a smart fellow. He turned the air condition ON and sat in the balcony with the main door closed. The noise of the compressor and road traffic made sure that no one from the staff noticed what was going on in our balcony. I noticed his guitar and suddenly told him, “Can I play, Sir? If you don’t mind.” He removed the guitar strap, gave it to me, and the first thing I played after tuning itwas

“Aane wala pal… Jaane wala hai…”

I knew the strumming pattern of this song like the back of mind (DD-UDU- DD). The song was from the movie Golmaal (1979) and had been sung by Kishore Kumar, that we all know. But very few people know that R.D. Burman first heard the same song from a budding musician who was playing in a hotel. That singer was none other than Mr. Farhan Sir himself. I kept on looking at his face like all the musicians do. I noticed every minute change in his facial expression as my rhythm changed. I could sense his mind and heart were chimed with my strings. He was impressed. Then we went into a ‘Jam mode’. We played the whole night.

“You are gifted son, really gifted. But, do remind me tonight. I’ll teach you the finger picking style.” Saying this he arranged his mast upon which his pint hung and then he went to sleep.

That morning my Dad came and along with him he brought the list of good colleges from where I could fetch my degree of engineering.  He brought the brochures and told me to go through them thoroughly. For the moment it didn’t feel right. I did understand that my father was concerned about my future. And I always obeyed my Dad. I loved him but, it was one of those moments where it felt wrong. I felt like I should take decisions on my own and at the same time I felt culpable for not being mentally in accordance with my father and rather than being thankful I was becoming more selfish. I was in a state of perplexity and confusion and in the middle of all these one part of my brain was humming to calm me down.

Word meanings:

  • Surreptitiously – marked by quiet and caution and secrecy; taking pains to avoid being observed.
  • Jam – play music in a group, esp. improvising.
  • Pint – the bottle filled with saline or glucose solution.
Background music: Cylinder Six (Chris Zabriskie) / CC BY 4.0
The First Indian Rock Star (Part 1)
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