“Please excuse my singing this morning, I have not done my throat warming up exercises, still I cannot deprive you of my wonderful voice”, Rahul made known to the rest of us. Misinterpreting the groans that followed, he urged us to patiently wait as his imminent cacophony was poised to penetrate our innocent eardrums. Rahul often took the concept of acapella too far; providing himself with the tempo, tune, and even the instrument solos, resulting in a farrago of noise. He was an aficionado of old Hindi music and even dabbled in the occasional Kannada rap songs, that day, he was treating us to some classic Kishore Kumar and like a bow tensing up to release an arrow, he breathed in a long and deep gulp of air and let loose the metaphorical dogs of war. “Aaaaaa”, he wailed, imitating or rather attempting to imitate the vocal capabilities of the artist whilst shattering the silence that our English teacher prided herself on maintaining. She turned sharply and sassily inquired, “Which tribes do we have at war today?” Before our perplexed minds could muster up a reply, she added to her inquiry, “I simply asked because of the war cry that reached my ears.” The class broke into bouts of laughter and everyone peered at Rahul’s face which grew redder with every passing moment. “Actually Rahul, why don’t you continue your music session outside the class, and while you’re at it, take the rest of your friends with you too”, Our teacher ordered, and so we complied. Rahul didn’t understand the sarcasm and treated us to the rest of the song while we sat outside, punished but happy. And that is Rahul Sharath, a thoroughly entertaining character; identifiable by his abnormally large ears, or by his erroneous pride that he takes in his vocal range, but even with his idiosyncrasies, he was and is one of my best friends.

Rahul has had an awful lot of mishaps, especially those related to his singing ability. One such incident occurred on a mild Autumn day in our school. The wind gently rustled the falling leaves, patches of green grass which were sporadic and few in number were subjected to the fleeting views of the students reminiscing the lush, chartreuse fields that our institution celebrated. The regular hustle-bustle which one could expect with 35 adolescent children was accompanied by failed bids to maintain silence by certain prissy pupils. Rahul approached me in his characteristic ‘slow motion’ stride, with his hair neater than usual and his shirt buttoned up to the top. Dressed to impress. Rahul’s clothes fit him like clothes displayed on a coat hanger, although he ate more than anyone else that I knew, he still remained the thinnest; an ability desired by most. “I need your help!”, he exclaimed. “With what?”, I asked, unaware of what ridiculous plan he had conjured up. “It’s purely innocent, I just need to impress Trisha”. Ah, Trisha, although Rahul always denied it, he was infatuated by her. He too followed the old song, ‘Main Shayar To Nahin’ and seemed up for and capable of anything when it concerned her. “What do you have in mind?” I catechized, having long given up on asking him to not undertake anything foolhardy. “I just need you to get her to the auditorium at 11, I am going to sing the most beautiful song for her.” My first mistake was agreeing to this plan, the second took the form of me abandoning all pragmatism and persuading Trisha to reach the auditorium at 11. Rahul meanwhile decided to perform his throat warm-ups in Math period, and when called upon to provide the answer to an equation, he let out a deep bellow similar to whale’s call, the same, embarrassing sound produced by a very hungry stomach. He then again assumed his position outside class, but apathy came naturally to him as his mind was set on impressing Trisha.

Finally, the clock struck 11, and Rahul had already been in the auditorium for the past 20 minutes, ensuring that no possible last-minute calamity could occur, well other than Trisha hearing him sing. Nervously, I approached the auditorium, anticipating the imminent cataclysm. Let me be honest with you, Rahul’s singing is pretty bad, but not in the sense that people would merely hurl things at him and leave, oh no, it had reached a level where people would see out the entire performance just to have a laugh and Rahul failed to realise the meaning of what was happening, and was simply encouraged by the said proceedings. We often joked with Rahul that his singing could be recorded and used as a torture technique to the degree that it would warrant being made illicit by the Geneva Convention. Rahul was sitting on the floor when I walked in, my third mistake, subsequently followed by Trisha. Caterwauling could be considered a lenient adjective to describe his singing or rather wailing that ensued. “Ohhhh, Mere Samnewali Khidki mein ek chand ka tukra rehta hai” Rahul ‘sang’, a much more physically painful rendition of the original hit song. Let me paint an appropriate comparison, imagine the siren of an ambulance, coupled with the sound produced by nails on a chalkboard, garnished with a few unmelodious bids to produce classical music. Trisha had a blank face, not knowing how to react and simply covered her ears and ran out of the room at a pace that would give Usain Bolt a complex. Rahul was visibly distraught and stopped his singing. He got up quietly and walked back to class with his head uncharacteristically pointing in the general direction of the ground and I followed suit by heading back to class whilst giving Rahul some personal space. After narrating the incident to our other friends, we decided to comfort Rahul and see how he was doing. Expecting a perturbed and broken person who had realized his limits and capabilities, we gingerly moved towards him and inquired as to how he was. “Oh, I am absolutely fine!” He exclaimed to our surprise, “I have realized that Trisha has no taste for artistic ability! You all are the only people who can truly appreciate my singing prowess and as a reward, I shall complete the song.” He then, to our dismay, continued the song he was singing for Trisha. We let him progress given the circumstances the situation took place in,  but let me tell you, my ears have not forgiven me to this day…

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3 thoughts on “The Tansen Of Jayamahal

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