Mist Songs of Delhi
By Sid Jain
Rajaji had listened to three songs of the deceased that morning. He couldn’t help himself. Whenever he walked past a flickering portrait floating in the air — static, sanguine, and phosphorescent — the urge to reach out and touch the cloud with his fingers was more than he could resist. The cloud portrait would unspool itself into the departed’s soul song and fill the air around Rajaji with the lilting music of their lives.
The last of those three songs had left Rajaji in a heavy stupor. The voice of the departed sang but three lines in Urdu. The translation into Hindi seized some beauty as tax, but the words thundered in Rajaji’s heart in all the seven languages he knew:
I tolerated his passing as he had taken Hindustan as his second wife,
But my hummingbird had not yet learnt to fly when you clipped her wings.
O Tyrant, what sin did I commit that you saved me for last?
They rarely told the life’s story of the subject as if they were epic poems. No, most soulsongs captured a sliver of the lives, a representative snippet that encapsulated the life and times of those lucky enough to be turned into song by the Goddesses of Raagas.
And they were lucky. Seekers made pilgrimage from around the world to the temples of music in Delhi and Ajanta and even the little one in Calcutta. Germanic Persians, Frankish Egyptians, and some even traveling over ocean and continent from the Americas, hoping — praying — that they reach the temples still alive and with stories remarkable enough to be granted the gift of eternal music. (Continue Reading…)