My jazz teacher wrote the most wonderful words for me in a mail two days ago. Not like ‘you move like a gazelle, my love’, more the sort that could only come from him. For my poems, for my words, for me.
Allan is on the mailing list of my poetry blog along with only 9 other people since quite a while. From time to time, when my verse strikes a chord with him particularly, he responds on email. I don’t know if the personal note is a conscious effort to not make too much of a footprint on the public web, or just his way of showing he’s not flippant.
Either way, his mails have always been thoughtful. Barely a few lines. Usually one or two, Allan would never end at just one empty word though. 'Nice's and 'good read's are not his thing.
But this time, his mail was not only different from usual, it became something of a short conversation. He asked if I wrote what I felt or just random thoughts. In my response, I told him that usually it's just collated thoughts - ideas of which one may think, thoughts others voice or just words I may have read somewhere.
He replied with appreciation for my 'capture of emotions'. He said they are 'the kind of thought that one thinks, staring at the ceiling or when silent tears soak the pillow' and signed off with this line "Lie, that you want to lay beside me".
When someone writes to you and chooses also to add just one more simple thought, can you help but sit back and recall your favourite memory of such a being?
Allan had taught me my first jazz number. When I was barely quitting teens and in the middle of my first college play (managing music, and still in school myself), Allan and I met a second time and spent much time bonding over my lack of any awareness of Western Classical music and his expertise in it. Not only did he teach me the basics, but also tested my voice right then.
There are few people in the midst of whom I feel rather small. My music teacher is one. Singing to Allan Rodrigues was only the second. And then it happened. He taught me Summertime. I’ve probably heard more versions of the song since than I can remember – Sarah Brightman, Louis Armstrong, a Latino version, and more.
In my following mail, I told him of how this thought keeps visiting me from time to time – I don't see him for such long interims, it's not funny. But I feel honoured that despite his utterly reclusive disposition, he chooses to stay connected – and I don’t mind the seeking of an appointment the previous night on text or early morning on mail. His presence at my sister's wedding, all the music sessions with him at King's Circle...
I also told him how much glee I still experience when I sing my version of Summertime with a Malkauns bandish to those who will care to listen. How much surprised they look, and how thankful I am to him.
Somehow, the line he had signed off with fit into my poem harmoniously. I felt compelled to weave it in and asked if I could flick it. The beautiful soul that he is to me, here's what he said...
"Your writing moves me and makes me want to respond. Strangely, whenever I am at my busiest, your writing appears in my inbox. Am at a day long workshop and here's the lovely poem...
Sing away. Summertime was my gift to you. Your rendition of it is your gift to me and others who hear it.
And to think that you want to use my line... feels nice inside. Didn't think I had an atom of writing in me.
Remember the time I used your line that said 'And some midnights,/ Many miles away,/ A text stirs you mid-slumber.'
I often hear your voice in my mind and think of songs you'd sing. I'd love to hear you again..."
Here's Lie on Mush Room, my poetry blog, with Allan's line incorporated.