On the 25th anniversary of Azhagan, a contemporary word-cover of the classic ‘Sangeetha Swarangal’
– Mani Prabhu
Don’t you think that this ‘falling in love’ thing is tricky business? One day, before you could make any sense of the storm that had silently struck, you wake up realizing that nothing is the same, ever. Perspectives had taken an electrifying turn. You aren’t even sure if you were ready for it, but you sense that euphoric dyspnea inside. Somewhere down the lane, a butterfly had flapped its wings. And your whole world had been rewired. It’s been keeping you inches off the ground for days now, and you don’t seem to want to land. You are happy, and you know it. Why wouldn’t you be? You had found that one person you wanted to spend the rest of your life with. It feels good. Everything makes sense, and totally doesn’t, at the same time! It’s exciting, beautiful, warm…
And engulfing. But you didn’t literally jump to this state, did you? Wasn’t it more of a journey or a fuzzy process? Even if it was some kind of spark at first sight, what was it that got you to this freaking moment, where everything seems so conveniently destined? Thinking about it, was it actually? What, precisely, was the point of ‘kairos’? When exactly did you fall in love, so irreversibly, that nothing else mattered?
If you can trace the ‘crossing of the rubicon’ back to that fateful night, when time froze, and you couldn’t stop that bloody heart of yours from pouring itself out into that phone – like cappuccino from a coffee-machine into a paper cup – you, probably, wouldn’t be alone! You didn’t, frankly, mean to spit it out like that. In fact, thinking of the herculean efforts it took late that Sunday evening to get that “Feelin good. Don’t know why. Felt like telling you” out of your whatsapp keypad might instantly usher in that grin now. But back then, it was a different ball-game. What was that forcing you to make contact with a ‘nice friend’? When clearly what you could see was just a casual acquaintance! “I can’t believe I’m doing this, what the hell was I thinking, maybe this isn’t such a good idea…why.. why?” Insanity almost takes over, except at some point, when you realize that it’s too late now for backing out, especially when two glowing blue ticks had started chuckling sarcastically at you.
Holy cow, what horror! In that one eighty seconds of bated waiting. Almost evoking more terror than what Stanley Kubrick could when he made Jack Nicholson break through the bathroom door. Until that phone finally signaled a call. A god-damned call, right upfront! Making your heart skip a beat. An instinctive shiver. And an awkward scuffle later, when you could finally swipe the screen and blurt out “Hello…”, somewhere in the neighbouring flat, Gopi was nudging a self-proclaimed orator to pass the mike along. No, I wouldn’t blame you for having not heard it. You were in seventh heaven, contemplating your next response.
Do you think the universe not only conspires, but also fights for the right souls to be together? If so, the next nine hours, where both of you first blush, slowly start to laugh like crazy, crack lame jokes, start sharing random things, warm up magically to that comforting silence at the other end, finally ending up as two bare souls rushing to make out madly, this phone call and all the things it brings with it cannot be mere coincidences. Can they?
To start with, it’s a little too scary to be ‘fun’. But then, as you slowly start to let go and trust, you start to believe that this person deserves a frank conversation, if not anything else. And the subsequent allaying responses from that person help. You gently settle in. It’s not anything sensational now. But you can sense the vibes. Something is there, filling the air as you start musing about what could be rationally labelled as ‘boring trivia’. Life seems a little brighter. Gopi had invited a guest to broadcast his apparent ignorance about the subject to the world. You are least bothered.
As things had already started getting a little more exciting. You spend a lot of time thinking about what you’re going to say the next moment. At most times, just stupid chatter. But those words seem to mean a lot more than what could be linguistically made sense of. You want to know more. What about that friend who got shit-drunk in that party? What does your dad read in the mornings? What do you eat for Monday breakfast? Sometimes, you sigh, thinking of all this apparent nonsense. But then, again, you smile. You know they are all important. As important as the teleshopping thing must be for that random neighbourhood aunty, who for some reason, didn’t seem to bother about the loud volume. As you get up from the bean bag, and lean on the bed, you would have ideally noted the time to be 12. 20 AM. But when you are busy, dissecting the third dream level of Nolan’s Inception, I think there is a possibility that it might have skipped your mind.
That hilarious hang-over. That nosy, over-protective uncle. Rocky, and the fact that he eats smoked-tenderloin on second Saturdays. Those exams you managed to scrape through, with a mini-xerox opened on your lap. The curiosity-inventory keeps stretching. “What keeps you up at night?” You blurt out. “Well, apart from me”. You smile. You feel so comfortable. And suddenly, there seems to be no dearth of things to know. Things to smile at. Things to worry about. Things to explore. You feel like telling almost anything that pops up in your memory. It’s almost like brain-storming. With your heart beating at twice its normal rate. Somewhere nearby, Vijay could be heard shaking a leg with Mumtaz. What. The. Hell? You instinctively shift focus to the clock in the corner. The fact that it read 01.40 AM and this song playing in the hall in your absence might have meant something to you on a normal day. But today wasn’t that day.
You move on to the more personal specifics. 2 AM and the mind wanders. Something personal that occurred five years ago, or something embarrassing that happened two hours back. There is no caging the flight of thoughts and their oral repercussions now. There is a lot of fun-flirting going on, and you both start to feel as though you’ve known each other for quite a long time. 3 AM and you start reflecting on something that could happen ten years from now. Your mind is literally a hurricane. It’s totally hyper-functional, and yet a wreck. Questions and subjects come flooding. “What would you like to do when you are done with your bucket-list? What do you think of experiencing something like ‘Before Sunrise’?
Deadly silence. Just the buzz of the AC machine eating into your privacy. 4 AM and you start getting into stupid arguments; those, if overheard, would sound like two lunatics communicating between the walls of locked-up adjacent cells. Sometimes, it’s not like you have known that lunatic any better. Just that they have helped you understand your lunacy a little more. And to add to it, that dope feeling that you are ‘wanted’. It’s bloody intoxicating and terrifying at the same time.
But before you can soak in it, you hear bustling noises outside. Of rumbling buckets, splashing water and sweeping brooms. Shocked, you stare at your mobile to see the clock ticking towards five. And this is when, you first panic. You feel like hitting the pause-button, so that the night could stay on, forever. All you can think about is how amazing this person is, and how you can sit in silence, hearing them talk in periodic bursts, and yet feel like it’s the best conversation that you have ever had. The milk packets arrive. You instinctively know that its past five-thirty. The mind continues to wander. Filled with beautiful, yet awful thoughts. Conversations at this hour, when the sun slowly starts crawling up, are the best, you know! The heavier the eyelids, the sincerer the words.
You start confiding. Nothing needs to be a secret, tonight. You talk about that failed relationship. That cruel betrayal. That guilty baggage, you had been carrying for years. You send each one of those inner-demons scurrying out. You let go off the wounds, and the resentment that has since plagued you. You feel light. You feel composed. You feel secure. Somewhere from one of the flats, the subrabharatam starts. The first fingers of sunlight poke through the windows to faintly light up the room.
At times when you least expect, something happens that completely turns your life upside down. This night is that something.