The way we document our lives has always fascinated me. Some of us take photos, some journal, some collect and there are some who just don’t bother. We’re all so hyper focused on creating and documenting these moments in our life, that we don’t realize that there are certain memories we unknowingly collect our entire lives. A secret pensieve, that we can dive into anytime. These memories are stowed away in the art we consume — in the music we listen to, in the movies we watch, in the shows we binge and the books we devour.
We don’t create such memories, they happen to us. And, because they are intangible, they take a more pure and permanent form. In fact, they aren’t really memories, they are time capsules. Time capsules, when uncorked, have the power to consume you. In the next few weeks, I’ll be uncorking some of mine with you.
The summer before I left for college was an interesting one. Our schooling had ended, but school life hadn’t. The textbooks, uniforms and teachers were cast aside, but the school drama, all night FIFA sleepovers and one beer buzzes were rampant. Low key wasn’t really a concept — everything took place in big groups. There was a ‘scene’ almost everyday, and time spent at home felt like time wasted.
I think a reason for this was that somewhere deep down for all of us was the realization that this chapter of our lives was coming to an end. On one hand, there was the unbridled excitement for what people told us would be the best four years of our lives ( they were right), but there also existed this trepidation of moving to a new place, starting over and making new friends. This fear solidified the bond we shared with our people and places. It made us very conscious of what home really meant and what we’d be leaving behind. But the time, none of us had had really understood or processed these emotions. We are far too busy having fun.
Sometime in mid June that summer, there was a charity concert held at Hippocampus, a prominent library and children center in the city. A lot of people from my school, including the school band TMLO, was going to be performing at this concert. The first departures were around the corner, and there were the slightest hint of a farewell in the air. The fact that the school band, TMLO, was going to be performing together for the last time added to the poignancy of the night.
When I entered Hippocampus that evening, I had one of those rare moments of bliss when I looked around and realized that I knew almost everyone there. There was this overwhelming sense of belonging I felt when I re-connected with a guy I hadn’t seen in years who I used to play football with, when I caught up with a girl I’d briefly interacted with at a school fest and when I just horsed around with my tribe.
TMLO were the last performers of the night, and belted out all their past hits as they finished off their last hurray with a bang. After completing their set, the lead singer told the crowd they had one last song they were going to perform; it was a Hindi song they’d never performed before called Nayi Khushi that had been written by the lead guitarist’s music teacher. He turned off all the lights in the room and switched on these small red stage lights; a ripple of expectancy spread through the room.
I still remember everything about the moment — the darkness, the silence of the audience, the trance my friends and I stood in and the lump in my throat. The soulfulness of that song stirred something in me. Have you ever experienced something you wished never ended? I was completely lost in the moment — I felt this strange connection with the music, as if it had been made just for me . I simultaneously felt the intense joy at being able to experience this song surge though my body and also this gutting sadness that it would end soon and I’d never experience it again. All the emotions I’d been feeling through that summer crystalized in those few minutes in the darkness.
The song ended, the lights came back on, and when I looked at my friends I instantly knew they’d experienced something similar. None of us could quite put into words what we felt at the time, but there was that unspoken understanding that comes with sharing something special together. Even today, Nayi Khushi is an emotional cornerstone for us.
It’s interesting how the human mind makes associations. Sometimes, the setting and environment in which you first listen to a piece of music have such a profound impact on the way you imbibe it. Nayi Khushi is a song I will always associate with goodbyes and the bittersweet feeling of nostalgia. It’s a song I listen to on every single cab ride to the airport. It’s a song I listen to each time I miss home. It’s a song I listen to in those quiet moments of reflection.
It’s been more than four years since that concert, but Nayi Khushi still instantly transports me back to that time. Back to those innocent evenings. Back to that summer. Back to Bangalore.
That summer was like a prologue to my childhood, and it feels like all the memories and emotions from those months are wrapped in this song. I don’t just listen to Nayi Khushi, I tap into it.