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MUSIC MUSINGS NITHYA RAJENDRAN A TINY PIECE OF GOD

Nithya Rajendran

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I woke up today to a forwarded video on WhatsApp featuring some doctors at a hospital in Andhra Pradesh cheering up their terminally ill Covid patients in intensive care with song and dance. It was a confusing sight. There are some pains, I thought, that even music cannot alleviate. The hopelessness of the inevitability of fate that these patients might feel cannot be mitigated by any force. Or so I thought.

As I watched the video of the PPE suit-clad doctors breaking into a robot dance with upbeat music, an eerie contrast to the grimness of the backdrop, I wondered whether it was in fact impertinent to not resonate with the sombre mood. But as the patients started swaying and dancing in sync with the doctors, I started to feel surprised and then heartened at the sight.

The patients, for those few minutes, had forgotten their pain. The doctors had forgotten their helplessness. For those few minutes, it was just pure joy with gay abandon.

As I look back at all those times music has had a powerful impact on people, I find instances that were so potently joyful that they etched into minds memories so impactful and immortal that the light of that happiness obliterated any sad memories from around that time.

An anecdote comes to mind of a lady at a music concert. She was clearly very sad, as evident from the forlorn expression on her face. It was a face that showed years of toil, turmoil and grief. It didn’t matter what her life story was, the lines etched in her weary face told it all. As the concert progressed and the singer commenced a particular piece, the lady broke down inconsolably. As if for the first time in her life someone had understood her life, her pain and her travails. They were cathartic tears filled with ‘happy sadness’, the kind of sadness that can flow out and be embraced by the music that understands the emotion so well. After she cried, her face wore a distinctly different expression, an expression of relief. It bore the look of someone who had, even if for a brief instant, let go of her heavy burden and was feeling light.  These kinds of moments are powerful and potent, like the satisfaction of the first drop of water after a long walk through the desert.

One can argue, how can small moments of happiness, however potent, replace years and years of pain? How can they replace the powerfully cutting and ruthless carnage of emotions that trauma causes, the sort that India is facing now due to the Covid siege? But then, aren’t years made up of months, months in turn made of weeks and days and moments? So, if each moment is treated with reverence and gratitude, if each moment is lived with full presence, then the value of that moment is no less than a lifetime.

So why not fill each moment with music? Because music can take over your being, transform even severely painful moments into profoundly meaningful ones. Because those few musical moments can ease your pain for hours afterward. Because the happiness of that moment can lighten the burden of a lifetime.

The fight now is not easy. It is the challenge of a century, one that defies logic and sometimes even faith. Let us sing our prayer in unison. Let music be there through the pain and the hope. Because music is a tiny but real piece of God we have in our hands right now.

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