Thursday, 12 April 2012

The 7th Symphony of Beethoven

This piece of music reminds me of my death.

And if that confuses you, let me tell you I did a very good job of writing my obituary and read it aloud over my coffin, just after they had finished scattering my ashes in the Ganges.

But it is really strange- since childhood, I have felt impending doom at every step. As if I will die very very soon. As if nothing nice is supposed to happen. This is why I am strange and bitter and an infidel and an ingrate at times. Because I can hear the seconds ticking near my ear, telling me that the sands run dry, making my throat run dry.

A long time ago, in a lonely house in Oxford near the meadows, my father played the second movement of Beethoven's Seventh Symphony. And staring at the vast greenness outside, I knew things would never be so peaceful and easy again. That life would unfold less tranquilly, that ma was going to sacrifice something, that baba's forehead creased and nose crinkled when he sat down to read- he was not going to be a scholar. I knew it. Ma was not happy when she was alone and I had pneumonia. That night I saw my father standing near the French windows, illuminated by a smiling moon. He has come, mummy! I said, but he hadn't. He was away, and we were alone to cope. I also heard the 7th Symphony, but there was no music in the room. My mother chose to leave soon to join her husband, and hence gave up on what could have been a prolific and beautiful career.

And perchance I heard this music again, stumbled across it much later. It reminds me of profoundly uneasy things, both personal and political. For one, it was used in
The King's Speech, and it fills me with a sense of what England is: a magnificent civilization in perpetual decline, sad because it's like the monarchy; grand and impotent and yet significant because of its beauty. Senescence is sad, but the end must always be elegant, and England is elegant, isn't it? Elegant and elegiac like a pastoral, and in my life it has acted like a pastoral (albeit an expensive one).

I miss my father so much at times, and when I talk to him, I try to explain to him that he shouldn't have left England and academia, but his hair is so silver, I can't bear to reproach him. I wish he would concentrate on things more though: his brilliance is so spontaneous and ephemeral, he could have made it lingering like mothballs, but he didn't- it's always a whiff of Chanel 5, always.

And mother, I miss her too. But she kept telling me the sense of doom and the premonitions were rubbish. But I know she gets these strange feelings too. And hers are more acute, and mine aren't. Mine are vague premonitions of self destruction, I feel stifled and heady from the feeling of disaster at times. And sometimes this music used to play in my head, along with the 9th symphony, and Madhu malati, and Tartini's The Devil's Trill and the voice of Begum Akhtar.

But this music, this music is so apocalyptic for me, it reminds me of my death. Every time I hear this, I stage my own ending, an intense self-execution, not suicide, no not that, but an enactment of release, of passion and of delirium.


Strawberry Amma said...

And if that confuses you, let me tell you I did a very good job of writing my obituary and read it aloud over my coffin, just after they had finished scattering my ashes in the Ganges.

Are you Hindu or Christian?

Thank God, you're not dead! :)

Strawberry Amma said...

Learn to live, live with me!

Strawberry Amma said...

Wait, or are you trying to prove that your passion of having one common god or multiple religions coexisting within a same individual is a delusion? If that be the case, I forbid - that passion can still coexist among other passions if you're true to every other passion and intellectually honest. You'll find yourself amidst multiple religions and serving many forms of God by being honest and true to your fellow beings and other objects that they create, which also includes your subjects, responsibilities towards others and that one common objective of serving God.

Be happy.

Arse Poetica said...

That's exactly what I tried to say, that in this life I think about death all the time, but it doesn't matter to me what I am-Hindu or Christian or Muslim, but I am also all these, and I am more. I am looking for various ways to feel, to experience life- and one of the greatest ways to feel unquestioningly is religion. In that sense, I am not modern. But see how many times I have used the personal pronoun? I cannot escape.

Arse Poetica said...

And thanks Strawberry Amma, please-will you be happy too? If reading what I write gives you happiness, then wish me all the best, I am writing a novel. Being a writer is what I want to be with all my heart. Indeed, without that, I am nothing. I might as well be dead.

Strawberry Amma said...

Yeah, you're not modern in a way. But every religion is considered modern with respect to future aspirations of humankind in general. It automates us to be more perfect to obtain a common and singular good, but through different traditions, practices and responses to the evolving society, but make no mistake - all religions obtain a common goal of achieving a greater objective in mind, that is homeward bound.


Strawberry Amma said...

And just so you are not confused - by 'homeward bound', I am referring to what our souls seek to achieve at the end of their journey on the planet, Gita or the Bible or the Quran (haven't read the Quran, so can't be specific).

Strawberry Amma said...

Also, so I don't fail to ask - can you please ask your friend to stop acting like a bummer and stop flirting with white people, who display their teeth at the slightest feel of their sexual glands.

Strawberry Amma said...

And just so I am not missing out anything, I purposely did not insert a question mark 'cause you HAVE to do it.

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