Why do I sing ?
My profession for thirty five years was teaching English Literature and Linguistics in college and at the University and I was quite happy with it. That was my bread and butter matter. But life is not just about working for bread and butter alone. I think life becomes more meaningful and wondrous to live when there is an insatiable passion in life for something and my passion was music since my childhood.
It could be because I was exposed to it from childhood. My father, Late Pt. Mallikarjun Mansur was a musician and I heard his music from the cradle onwards. Whenever he happened to be at home he would always be singing and whether or not I wanted it, the notes of the ragas would be unconsciously sinking and seeping into my subconscious.
The soothing notes I heard day in and day out took me to a distant world of music. Since it was a musical ambience all through, it must have got into me without my knowledge. The sounds of the tanpura strings being played in the house all day and night must have affected my mind and body. I still have faint recollection of periods in my childhood (four of five years old) when the tanpuras did not play whenever my father was not there in town. The tanpuras, tabla and harmonium were my first play-toys. As a young boy of six or seven, I pulled the tanpura strings, banged on tabla (once broke it also and got fired by my father) or ran my fingers on the harmonium when my father was absent from home. There were also occasions when my sisters and I used to play games of “mehefils”, my eldest sister playing the singer, me playing the tablist and another sister playing harmonium player and giving a mock recital. And as we grew up, I remember, we used to sing “Ava gunana kijiye guni jan kaa jaane guna ki Saar,ho guni guni jaane gunaki saara” or ” jabse tumsan laagale peet naveli pyare balma more ” in ,what I later learnt were, Yaman Kalyan and Bhoop respectively. And the fights among the siblings would be who would play the main artist, the vocalist! These were our songs and games in childhood and we sang them as we liked!!
Actually, I did not need to sing in my life for a living. Even now! But the bug of singing bit me as I grew older around fifteen, sixteen years when my father began teaching me accidentally. Late, you would say? For me it wasn’t because music was in me from childhood unconsciously and that helped me greatly! I must say here that the children of a musician have an added advantage than others of learning the music easily, provided there is a passion to do it. And passion to learn music, I did have, although my father wanted me to pursue academics. And academics I did, although I did not become a doctor which was my father’s wish. I failed in first year science and switched over to arts next year.
And this passion for something more than just working for bread-butter which almost everybody does in life, this restless desire to want to acquire something more will take you to make your dreams come true. This ‘chaahat’/wanting will by itself find the twenty-fifth, or twenty-sixth hour in the day and make you to work for your dream. One will not then say, I have no time for this passion. For me too after my hours of teaching, I would search for these extra hours to pursue my passion.
I still remember the head of my English Department (whom I admired for his scholarship in Literature) telling me the first day I joined my service “Mansur, please remember one cannot ride two horses at the same time.” I remember what I said then. “With due respect, Sir, for me music is not a horse to ride. It’s a unicorn I am trying to see. I need to ride only one horse of Literature with your guidance.”
A beautiful, mysterious and wondrous Unicorn, it still is for me because I consider myself still as a ‘saadhak’, a seeker. And this journey has given me the greatest happiness in life.
And why do I teach music? Because I want to impart this Vidya to like-minded learners who have a similar passion for music and will search for the twenty-fifth or twenty-sixth hour in the day.