In sickness and in health

It’s a little strange that after 4 months of writing for a Delhi-based newspaper, I’ve finally got the chance to write while in the city. It’s the middle of July and there’s no sign of the rains. Even the stray clouds which greeted me the day I got here seem to have been banished by the mighty sun.

It’s as though summer has gotten a little too comfortable and decided to make Delhi its permanent address. Now, I’ve never been hugely fond of this sun guy. From giving me prickly heat in my childhood to causing me unending embarrassment via damp armpits in my adolescence, the sun has been quite the devil. Also, the fact that in school I couldn’t hide my unwaxed legs under trousers while hemlines around me went higher than ever during summers made it all the more unbearable. 

Delhi’s hasn’t proven to be too welcoming this time around. Yes, the neighbourhood chhole-kulchewaala continues to make profits feeding hungry schoolchildren who prefer greasy, unhygienic street-food to their ghar-ka-dabba, the Labrador next door has reached its full size and threatens to turn into the biggest dog I’ve ever seen, the neem tree right outside my balcony still tries to guard me the best it can from the unrelenting sun, but something seems amiss. Perhaps it’s the fact that this city reminds me of my last heartbreak. Or, perhaps, a slight fear of losing my voice. The latter seems like a more plausible explanation, and deserves to be written about.

I’ve been here for about a week now. And, I’ve stepped out of the house exactly once. To visit the hospital. Hospital visits are a nightmare. Needles, blood, weighing scales and such scare the daylights out of a faint-hearted person like me. So, it isn’t an easy battle to fight when one has to face her worst enemies all the time for a long time. And, certainly not when it is to save what is most dear to her- in my case it’s my voice. The past few months have been a constant struggle- a struggle to ensure the well-being of that which is most precious to me. Physically, I and my voice have not been in the best of shape, yes. But, mentally, this struggle has made me a lot stronger. Here’s why.

Music didn’t just casually walk into my life. My folks pushed me into it right from my childhood, but I guess everything is pre-destined. It only happens when it has to. I went through major upheavals- professional and personal before finding peace with music.

I spent years searching for happiness, like everybody does. From switching jobs at the drop of a hat to breaking hearts, from disappointing my parents to running away from my dreams- I reached the nadir of my existence, and had it not been for the timely intervention of music I’d probably have stayed right there and rotten away. So, there’s no chance in hell that I’m letting it go. Haters, jealous-types can try all they like, but music shall remain with me for as long as I live.

Like Ray Charles had said, ‘I was born with music inside me. Music was one of my parts. Like my ribs, my kidneys, my liver, my heart. Like my blood. It was a force already within me when I arrived on the scene. It was a necessity for me - like food or water.’

Malini Banerjee is a snotty single child, mountain junkie, playback singer, Austen addict, hopes to soon finish writing her debut novel, and dreams of singing alongside Buddy Guy.
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