I have never been fond of the renowned singer, Saigal, with
his nasal voice which reminded me of a man struggling with his ablutions! More
so, after I was told and then heard with my own ears, my dear father’s voice which
was just like him.
The man sat with his harmonium in the company of his
friends, all playing different musical instruments. The saga started with the
musicians first, tuning up and then setting forth with a medley mix of sounds
that blended into each other, to make some musical sounds, until my father let
out a sound emanating from somewhere deep, which probably was his large
intestine and allowed it to find relief in the vocal exhalations, punctuated by
a few ups and downs, like the choir singers at the Vatican.
This practice made me ponder on the meaning of deep itself,
as to the physiological origin of the word, in a man’s biology. Arising out of
this contemplation, came the realization that in so far as anything is
concerned, which has to do with my father, my efforts would match his voice, to
produce what I termed as the ‘SaigalEffect’. This meant that I would have to
let out a similar pained sound out of my gut, or wherever, every time, I dealt
with anything to do with him.
Now, I am not exaggerating I can assure you. Most of the people who know me,
are aware of the strained relationship between my late father and mother and
how there was no taalmil,
compatibility between the two which resulted in one writing her own story and
the other singing his own song! I stood on the periphery watching the tamasha, circus, as most children do in
such cases and decided to take to my mother’s passion, which was words of
poetry and story, precisely why I am here now to tell you the story of the
latest version of the ‘SaigalEffect’ which took over my life, only recently.
On my way to visit his place to sell a plot of land, which he so kindly left
behind for me, only in his death, I was told at the eleventh hour, that the
sale was not going to happen after all, because, the buyer, a man of the soil,
who had been working on many other acres of my father’s land, when he was
alive, did not have the money ready. But had he not told me, only in the
morning and many times over in the last two months that the money was ready?
Yes, of course, he had, but who can ever escape the long term adverse results
of the ‘SaigalEffect’? Plans must be foiled; the family must do its bit to
protect the land from going out to people who were merely labourers on my
father’s land; how could they become owners; I who grew up with other pursuits
of life must learn the hard way, that the zamindari
system, the private ownership of land, is here to stay, as much as the caste
system is, and that all efforts to sell the land, will meet with negation. And
I must pay with time and money for being challenged enough not to understand
that even my inheritance from my father, is necessarily, not mine, but belongs
to my paternal house and all or a few male members of the family.
Yes, at these times, the ‘SaigalEffect’ does hit me hard and I know,
where the frustrated, constipated sound came from – not from the gut, nor the
intestine, nor what one might have held sacred as to cause anal retention, but
way, way beyond that. The ‘SaigalEffect’ has its origin in a lost battle
with sense and sensibility, fought by me and my mother, our whole life, with
our counterpart, that being my father and his family.