Saturday, August 05, 2006

Film Music as Solace

An hour before the kick-off of the Convergence Culture Symposium, I received a call from my sister saying my father had suffered a heart attack. She added that the doctors didn't think he would make it. I rushed to the airport, got my tickets changed, and a few minutes after I got past the security check, I got another call saying it was over. He was gone. I've been in Bangalore the past few months, and am now back in the U.S., trying hard to get on with work. It's been slow and agonizing, but I am now able to persuade my mind to think about that, ahem, "long paper" I need to write.

I considered using this space to work through what I was going through. But it has taken me this long to accept, and not just understand, a change that in its finality is nothing but excruciating. I now hope to blog regularly, and not just about filmy stuff. But for now, I will mark this return with a note about film music.

After the traditional period of mourning, and the feast on the 13th day which marks the end of mourning, all our friends and relatives left, leaving me and amma at home. For the first time after my father's death, we were left alone with our thoughts. It was difficult, to say the least, to continue living in an apartment that seemed eeriely empty yet reminiscent of time spent with anna. While we tried our best to stay occupied - visitors, shopping for groceries, cooking, watching television - there were times when we would just sit quietly, afraid to talk lest we break down again, inconsolable. The one thing that provided much comfort during those initial days was, strangely enough, film music. And in a way, the radio - which he would leave on all day long, switching stations constantly - became an object that helped amma and me smile at times. "I would get annoyed at times," said amma one morning. "Some nights he would fall asleep with the radio on, and I would have to find the remote in the dark and switch it off." The Matinee Show on Radiocity 91.0 FM, Chaya Geet on All India Radio at 10:00 p.m., and much else to fill up the rest of the day.

As I heard songs that I remember anna enjoying and humming, it seemed a nice way to mourn. At times when it felt like there was nothing left to hold on to - no diary, no letters, no last words at the hospital - film music was a balm for grief. And one song in particular resonated with much of what I was feeling: kal ho na ho. I recognize that the song may mean little to many people, and might even sound utterly corny. But I found the lyrics of the song, and the affect it produced under the circumstances, very comforting. It helped me come to terms with the idea of moving on, and reminded me to cherish relationships.


  • Aswin,

    My deepest sympathies go out to you and your family. I truly know what you are going through.

    I was only seventeen at the time. My father was in the same city as I was when my mom called and told my brother and me to get to the hospital. Before we even left the house, she had called back and said he was already gone.

    It's interesting that you listened to filmi music on the radio to help you mourn, especially Kal Ho Na Ho, which makes perfect sense.

    My father used to listen to the talk shows, often calling in to add his two cents worth. After he died, my mom ended up listening to the shows and calling in herself from time to time.

    If you ever need anyone to talk to, you know how to reach me. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

    By Blogger Simran, at 8/06/2006 8:53 AM  

  • much love and i am glad you are writing again, my southie ceenma fix.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8/07/2006 9:06 AM  

  • -s9

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8/07/2006 9:07 AM  

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