Monday, December 13, 2004

M.S. - a tribute

It was mildly nippy when we groggily jumped off the train at Pallakkad railway station. It had not been a pleasant journey, the last minute rush from the office, managing to catch the train just about on time, not a wink on the train.
Naturally then, when we got off the train, I was hanging by the very edge of a very frayed temper. As we waited, for another bunch of people coming by a later train to catch up with us, it was not pleasant. All I wanted was a wash and maybe a few minutes of shut eye. Instead, here I was trudging across the tracks, heavy bag in hand.
That is when it happened.As I remember it.
Suddenly, from across the tracks, came a clear voice piercing through the nip in the air, rendering the Venkatesa Suprabatham. It was a voice I had learnt to recognise even before I could read the two letters that went with it: M.S. In that moment, and as I listened on, that divine voice rained on me, drenching me entirely, chasing away the irritation, soothing my nerves. Unconsciously then, head lifted high towards where the sound came from, I drank in the voice along with the cold February air. There was just me and this divinity.. this bhakthi.
That then, is what made M.S.- M.S. Her complete devotion, mellifluity entwined with bhakti, impressing even non deists like me. But you don't have to be a believer to admire her - because when she sang, you FELT a stirring deep inside. Being weaned on a diet of the greats of Carnatic music, M.S. for me, was a divine world all by herself. No one could sing "Bhaja Govindam..." or "Maitreem Bhajatha..." as she could.
The other day, one Friday, at Isabel Hospital, a seminar organised on the occasion of World Disability Day, began just as the strains of M.S' "Kurai Ondrum Illai..." played on a sound system faded out. Only a few feet away, in the same hospital, M.S. reclined on the bed, recovering from her viral infection. The doctors had assured us, indeed, "Kurai ondrum illai."
But then they were just doctors, not the Gods she sung so fervently about. They could not extend their assurances: her immortality was beyond them.
It was within her. Her voice will play on...



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