My brother downloaded some music and sent me a CD full of our family favourites - of the sixties and seventies. I played them and ---
Do you know that music can transport you through time and space? And then soft land you through mists of oblivion into forgotten regions in the vast realm of memory?
Yes. That’s exactly what happened for more than an hour when I sat in the room of the staff hostel listening to the songs we used to listen to as children, sitting before the Telefunken radiogram or the Grundig spool tape recorder. The first number was Cliff Richard’s Young Ones - and the mists begins to clear. I saw us siblings (we were quite a number) sitting together around these gadgets, listening, talking, arguing – S Janaki is better than P Leela, Jayachandran is a better than Yesudas in certain types of rendition(my music savvy brother), Jayachandran potta potta potta ,(my youngest brother –too small to take on the senior one on one), MGR is a hopeless actor (the youngest one takes a swing at the speaker), Umrigar is the greatest - none like him(that was the last but one), stories of the ongoing tussle between Minnal (nickname of an upright and uptight SI) and Sarkar Mohammed (a dashing dare devil , I think), I’ll tell amma you are actually playing book cricket when she thinks you are studying(the youngest). Then I’ll tell her you ate meat cutlet from the fridge on Friday (The last but one).
Yes. Music, more than anything else, can stir up memories of distant days and breathe life into the hazy shadows which never desert the mind but lie inert in some uninhabited alcove of that region. Scattered bits of memory fall into place like a jigsaw puzzle and images flit thru the mind, one after the other, images which move, speak, laugh and quarrel. Delicious smell of olath Irachi or chemmen frying come wafting in from our kitchen on the other side of three/four decades, to complete the images regrouping themselves in the mind with every song.
And then, one after the other, came the numbers Atlantis and Foot Tapper – both by Shadows. I got a jolt. For I was flung far far away from my childhood into the imaginary(?) city of Camelot. Images of King Arthur and his knights sitting around the round table, with their metal helmet and metallic woven armours (forget what they are called) riding leisurely through the streets of Camelot, the Excalibur, the Holy Grail. I stretched my memory to include Knight Lancelot and Queen Guinevere but couldn’t. Possible that the children’s version of The Knights of the Round Table that was gifted to me for my birthday was a sanitized one with no space for romanticized adultery. On that same birthday, my brother brought home the small turntable record of Shadows with Atlantis on one side and Foot Tapper on the other. These days, I listen to those numbers often, now that I got them with me once again. I think they are the best pieces of instrumental music I’ve ever heard. And, I guess their power to transport me to the chivalrous, idyllic world of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table through childhood memories, has something to do with what those numbers do to me.