Living a mother's dream

By Sudha Jagannathan
Chennai: 17-02-2020 9:43PM
Last Updated: 17-02-2020 9:43PM

When I was a kid, my mother used to sing songs on our Gods. I used to listen to her with rapt attention. She had told me that she had learnt Carnatic music since she was just five years old.

In those days, her father (my grandpa) was teaching in the Hindu Higher Secondary School at Triplicane in Chennai. Once he was invited to teach English language for a few days to the legend M.S. Subbulakshmi. My mother had then expressed a wish to learn music from her but was denied permission.

Our mindset was so inflexible those days. To think of a girl from an orthodox Brahmin family taking up music as a profession and give concerts on stage was taboo. Even the very thought on this sort of an endeavor was frowned upon.

So, my mother's singing till today is restricted only to singing at home in front of our domestic Gods and Goddesses in the pooja room, and sometimes at minor household functions. But she has no regrets and spent most of her time in home-making and looking after us. 

For one thing though, I am eternally obliged to her. She has always shown a keen interest in making me learn music. Since I had not developed any great interest in learning music, her aspirations mostly remained a forgotten dream.

While I was living in Bombay many years ago, M.S. Subbulakshmi gave a concert at the famous Shanmukhananda Hall. My mother had gone to that concert along with her friends. Since I was having my school final exams, I couldn't make it to that concert.

I remember my mother telling me that day how MS had sung with such great dedication and bakthi. Even today, I feel bad for missing out on that concert. Since then, years have rolled by before my very eyes. And, my desire to hear MS live on a concert platform never got fulfilled.

The advent of the new millennium somehow helped to bring me back on the musical track. Listening to this particular musician during a December season in Chennai made me feel enthusiastic and drew me completely into Carnatic music. I could sense a change coming within me.

I hardly knew anything about music before. I was doing a software job then. My entire time was absorbed in the job, and I didn't even have any time to appreciate music. Suddenly, I felt bored with my job. And, I quit.

You learn that you lose something to gain something else. All of a sudden, I began to learn flute. It all happened not by choice but by sheer chance. Since then, my life has taken a new meaning. Actually, many positive changes have taken place. Now I not only hear music but also play it. And, music has given me an opportunity to write as well. Today, a sense of peace and tranquility fills my mind. I am, of course, very happy that, at long last, I am able to live my mother's dream.
(This article was first published in 2008)

Jyothi Mohan - jyothiarjun@vsnl.com
I do not know if it was the same concert. There was one by MSS, a fund-raiser for Shankar Netralaya by the Chinmaya Yuva Kendra. I was present in a packed auditorium, seated in the last row of the 2nd balcony. There was a power failure half-way through the concert and we had the privilege of listening to that divine voice minus microphones! There was pin-drop silence in the hall despite a 3000-strong crowd. It was an ethereal experience watching her radiant face illuminated by two kuthivizhakkus and her voice carried through the hall crystal clear! It was a truly unforgettable experience!


Name: mandayam gomatam krishnan    Place: oakland california  
Comment: do you remember the year as I attended her concert in shanmukhananda hall some where between 1965-1970?