Next To Tansen

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Children Stories  |  House: Booksie Classic
A little girl does not want to go to school on a rainy day. However, as school time draws nearer, rain starts subsiding.The girl, for, some reason strongly believes that her mom could make it rain if she wants and tries to persuade her to do so. Finally, mom agrees and tries to fulfill her daughter's wish.

Submitted: May 06, 2014

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Submitted: May 06, 2014

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The alarm rang sharply exactly at 6 am as every day. “Why does the alarm not have an urge to sleep for 5-10 minutes more any day?” I thought in a half-awake & half-sleepy state – halfway between my world of beautiful dreams and reality. Another boring week day was about to begin. Wake up, play violin for 1 hour, prepare for the classes and then get ready for school. That makes the day just perfect with no place for any modification – neither for better nor for worse.

Some weird thoughts occupied my mind. Suddenly, I started pitying the week days. “Poor week days! They all are the same with no distinct identity of their own. Weekends are luckier. Every weekend is different from the other. Every weekend we do something different, go out to different places. Would the weekdays be ever jealous of the weekend? What would happen if all weekdays attack the lonely weekend sometime?” I thought.

Without even bothering to find answers to these questions, I peacefully went back to sleep again. But, this was not my fault all together. The weather, that day, was to be blamed more for that. The sky was just pouring down. The sun was nowhere to be seen as if he was also sleeping like me under the blanket of those black clouds. It was so dark that it appeared like 4 AM even if it was 6 in the morning. The thunders were just deafening. Yet, nothing could stop mom’s yell from waking me up just after 10 minutes of the alarm had tried to do the same.

“Ma, please let me sleep for 10 more minutes.” I cried. “It’s already 6.15 am. You already had your 15 more minutes. Now, you must get up.”, said mom sternly. With great difficulty, I pulled out from the bed and went to the wash basin to brush. The well water that we had been using from many years was so cold from the downpour that it drained away all the sleep from my eyes in a second and sent a cold shiver down my spine.

Just as I turned, I saw my cousin coming back from school, half drenched, in spite of his red rain coat, that I always made fun of. A sense of immense joy rose from my tummy that came out as a loud ‘Hurray’ from my throat. “Hey, is it a rainy day today?” I asked my eyes wide open now. “Yes”, answered my cousin. I almost started dancing in circles around my cousin and he joined in too. In next five minutes, we had almost planned the complete itinerary for the day. We ran to mom to tell her to make ‘pantua’ today for that was my favourite sweet.

Just as I started explaining mom what all we have planned for today, my Chachaji entered the house after parking his scooter in the garage. “It’s raining so hard outside, it was almost impossible to ride back home from school.” He said. He seemed to be a little upset about something. In a complaining voice he started again, “The school authorities are so irresponsible. I called them just five minutes before leaving home. They said nothing about a rainy day. What’s the use of declaring a rainy day after almost everyone has reached the school? ”A surge of anger rose inside me. Are all grown-ups so selfish? Why isn’t he thinking about all of us? At least all day shift students will be saved from going to school. My Chachaji continued with his grumbles and my irritation kept growing. And suddenly, in spite of being told for hundreds of times by mom not to interfere when elders are talking, I intervened, “Chachaji, At least the day shift students will not be drenched in the rains na? Why not think of that? ”

The next few moments felt to me like the saddest moment of my life. I felt a strong sinking feeling near my heart, as if I was having a cardiac arrest. I was sure that this had to be the saddest moment in all the slam books I filled thereafter. Previously, it had always been the day when I had lost my puppy, Tom. But it was nothing compared to the intense sadness that I felt now when Chachaji said that the holiday has been declared only for morning shift and not for the day shift students. Day shift will be cancelled too only if it continued raining like this till 10 AM. To this, Mom cheerfully added that it would not rain so hard for 4 hours till 10. That made my heart so heavy that I almost found it hard to breathe and a drop of tear ran down my left cheek.

I lost all hopes of a rainy day. Dejected, I went back to my room and started playing my violin. I had to practice and learn ‘Bhupali raag’ before music sir returned the next week. I practiced 15 minutes on ‘Bhupali’ and then started turning my notebook to check out what are the ragas lined up over the next few months. The list was quite long – ‘desh, bhairav, bhairavi, bihag, megh malhar, kafi ’ and many more. But my mind inherently wandered towards the rains and rainy day. “Oh God! Why second standard has to be in the day shift?” I thought.

I started feeling jealous of my cousin and his whole nursery batch, when, something, suddenly, caught my attention. It felt like a ray of hope coming from the pitch darkness of hopelessness. It took me a moment, or almost two, to realize what it was. It was the name ‘Megh Malhar.’  Wasn’t it the raga that Tansen sung and then it rained? I ran to mom to confirm. Yes! That was it. I hated my music sir for not having taught me that yet. “Why you suddenly asking about Tansen and Megh Malhar?” asked mom. Without answering, I again ran to the verandah. It was around 7.45 am by then.

To my utter disappointment, the sky appeared a bit clearer to me than the morning. It wasn’t raining as heavily as the morning anymore, or at least I felt that way. But, this time I did not lose all hopes because it was still raining. I gazed expectantly at the sky. Some clouds were still there. Not black like morning, but at least they were grey. I ran back to mom again. “Ma please, sing Megh Malhar for me. Please Ma. Please.” I almost fell at mom’s feet. Mom started laughing loudly and said, “What? I am not Tansen beta. I don’t know any Megh Malhar.” Tears began welling up in my eyes again. “Don’t lie to me. You were singing a line the other day. I have heard you.” I cried. Mom explained to me that she had just picked up a line from some serial episode showing Tansen singing the raga. It was something like ‘Barso Barso re Badrasa’ and that she knew nothing more than this. But I continued to plead so much that mom finally agreed to me and started repeating the same line again and again. I joined her too. My cousin fell in line as well. All three of us started shouting the same line and it was nothing less than a cacophony. Thanks god Tansen never lived to see this.

After some 4-5 minutes, Mom entered her kitchen again, telling us that we can continue with our ‘Megh Malhar’ if we wanted. Now, that we also have equally mastered the raga, her not singing will not make any difference. I and my cousin ran to my room and stared outside through the window to check if our singing the raga has had an effect already. Though there seemed no difference, I consoled myself saying that it was just that my eyes were not able to discern the difference. Undeterred, I continued to repeat the only line mom had taught me. This continued till 8 am, when finally, Chachiji entered the room and took my cousin for bath. I felt a bit lonely now. The raga would have been more effective if three of us had sung it together, I thought. Nonetheless, I continued chanting it under my breath, my eyes constantly fixed on the pours outside. But by 8.30 am, instead of becoming stronger, the rains had come down. I felt helpless. Shaken up by the huge grief that had befallen me, I could no longer stand at the window. I returned to sit on my bed, my eyes still fixed on the rains outside.

I had almost given up; when from nowhere, a rush of hope came in again. It was like an inner voice saying that ‘Megh Malhar’ cannot fail. More than history that talked about Tansen & his ragas, I believed mom. “Ma can never be wrong. She said it will work. It must work. I must not give up.”, I thought and continued to recite the same one liner, this time, with folded hands and closed eyes. And yes, yes, the pours were growing stronger by 8.45 AM. Now, there was no backing out.

I ran to the kitchen and almost dragged mom to the window. ”Please Ma, You must sing it with me. Please.” I literally begged mom. I still do not know why but mom agreed. She rejoined me in singing the one liner. And suddenly all my hopes were actually coming true. The rain began to pour down with sound as deafening as a waterfall.  The sky grew darker like it was night. And by 9.30 AM, it was raining cats and dogs. Soon, we could hear the sounds of hail stones falling.  I felt like winning a war. I felt at the top of the world. In my excitement, I stood up on the bed and started dancing to the tune of the rainfall outside. Just then Chachaji entered the room and my heart almost gave a sudden thump. It was the obvious effect of the previous bad news he had given me earlier that morning. But before I could think further, Chachaji said, “I just called your school. The day is off for you too. It’s a rainy day. Why do these offices never declare any rainy days?”, and with this he walked out of the room. My joy knew no bounds. I jumped off the bed to give mom a tight hug and kiss. I shouted,” Ma you did it. You actually did it.” Mom laughed to the point that she had tears in her eyes and for me Mom was just next to Tansen. My belief that Mom can never be wrong was doubly reinforced. There was nothing my mom could not do. I saw mom folding hands and saying a short prayer. “Why praying God ma?” I asked. “To thank him not to let my child lose faith in me”, she said. I did not even try to understand what she meant. I was busy rejoicing when, from a distance, came my cousin’s voice, “Didi, come outside. There are so many hail stones here.” I called out to mom as I ran outside to collect hailstones with my cousin, “Ma, make pantuas. I want to eat pantuas today.”


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