official. Stage, no stage, I have stage fright, and looks
like there is no way I can get over it.
we were at a friend's place, and as happens when people with
musical pretensions decide to come together, I never realised
when a perfectly normal get-together transformed into a stage
establish at the outset: I cannot sing to save my life. I
don't croak, but I could never woo a boy with my singing prowess.
Besides, I never pay attention to the lyrics of any song.
Give me a tune to hum, I'm fine; ask me to sing the song,
I'll still hum and be fine. But the others around me may not
be. And, I have never sung in public. I don't even sing behind
of the classic literary Proviso settings, when, before we
decided to get married, The Hubby and I were having a frank
discussion on what we looked for in an ideal spouse, the fourth
point on his wish-list was that she should sing to him, sing
for him. He said he was used to having his mother lull him
to sleep with her mellifluous voice (even then, he insisted!).
It would have been rude to laugh, or let a reckless comment
pass from my lips at such a moment, so I didn't say a word.
He misread my silence.
the inevitable was requested for. You can't avoid these things
for long. A man's gotta sleep when he's gotta sleep. The day
the withdrawal symptoms (with a new bride around for her son,
the mother had stopped singing her son to sleep) got the better
of him, he woke me up in the middle of the night and said,
dead brain took it as a nightmare, and didn't care much. Moments
later, a gentle jolt woke me up again, "Please sing."
So I sang.
I sang my school song, the only other song besides the National
Anthem that I know by heart, and know without a fault. It's
been nearly a decade since. The Hubby had never repeated his
request until last evening. And we both have been happier
it doesn't mean that I have ever been scared of singing. Far
from it. If the world were to be divided into singers and
non-singers, I would probably lead the pack of those non-singers
who would be most willing to defect to the other group. It
is just that I don't want people to suffer me.
night, I found myself in a tight spot. I don't know why, but
for the first time in my life, I froze when I realised there
was no escape. With a little presence of mind, I could have
excused myself, said my child is allergic to songs, or that
singing late in the evening gives me insomnia, signalled to
The Hubby, and left the place. Once gone, no one would have
missed us in that musical soiree. But he seemed happy sitting
where he was (to the point of completely ignoring my visible
began. As the melodies floated round the room, I did my best
to not think about what it would be like to hear, "yes,
yes, bhabhi, now it's your turn. Sing us your favourite number."
Favourite? My mind spinned. The only song I could recall then
was the Madhuri chart topper "Ek, do, teen, chaar…".
It is one of the most avoidable songs that I have heard in
my life, and here I was stuck with the only one tom-tomming
in my mind. Place it in the context of an evening where only
the grand masters of Indian cinema were being paid tribute
to, you can imagine how jarring this song would sound. Five
to go before my turn would come, four to go…if only
I could melt, three, …why didn't they have a more powerful
air conditioner in the room, two…I was about to have
a black-out, one…and sure enough, the dreaded moment
was upon me.
pairs of twinkling eyes trained on me; thirteen faces looking
at me, each with a peculiar grimace that said we've got you!
I was looking at them, yet not quite. The silence could have
drowned me had it not been for the constant nudging from my
son, "What mamma, why don't you sing? All aunty uncles
have sung. We are waiting. Sing Dhoom."
don't know that song dear," I told my son.
then you sing Twinkle Twinkle," he offered helpfully.
At least he was trying to help. The others sat there mute
watching me squirm.
to sing. Honestly, I did. But every time my brain wanted to
sing, my mouth wouldn't comply. Each time my mouth was ready,
my brain went dead, resulting in all of an embarrassing gurgle
that came out. I could count my breath. I knew they could
count the strands of grey hair sitting pretty on my head.
I knew they could notice my mismatched saree and blouse, my
unkempt nails, the sandals wearing off at the sides…
sense the restlessness in Hubby's body language. "Sing
Wifey, sing anything".
"I can't think of a song,"
what you like…just start, you are holding up the others…"
the firmness of tone, the annoyance, and the feeling of being
let down, was hard to miss. I was equally put-off by his behaviour,
and for having aided others in pushing me in a corner. Couldn't
he just have said, "no, actually, she doesn't sing. Let's
move on…" and everything would have been fine.
I tried my best to avoid his direct gaze, but my eyes would
find their way back to him. It was, undoubtedly, the most
embarrassing moment of my life.
The evening went by without my song. I couldn't have
sung "Ek, do, teen…", could I have?
Last night I dreamt of a furious Hubby walking out on me and
taking a Sultan's daughter's hand in marriage instead. Why,
because she agrees to make a public appearance with him by
walking up to the stage with him, waving at the crowds, singing
Ek, do, teen (what else?)!
second thoughts, even if in a nightmare, good riddance never
came any easier! And guess what? Now I am determined never
to get over my stage fright.
(R) thedailystar.net 2004