Bashyam Narayanan

The Music Teacher - Poem by Bashyam Narayanan

Music teacher

Long long ago
So long ago
No one knows how long ago
But I know it was
More than fifty years ago
There was a music teacher,
A beyond fifty years old widow,
Would come to our house
Almost every other day
To train my cousin sister
In presenting a set of carnatic songs
This was a requirement those days
That a girl to be married
Should be in a position to sing
Before her would-be husband
And his accompanying relatives
There were also occasions
When girls got rejected for the reason
They did not make a pleasing presentation
Of such songs
Our music teacher was focusing
On three songs only
So that my cousin would
Perform well at least one of the three songs
When she presents herself
As a prospective bride
This particular teacher had fame
That when she taught a girl
The girl would soon get married
We boys in our early teens
Used to make a fun around her
That there would be a girl waiting to be married
In that house
Which this teacher would enter
The teacher was well ahead of times
As she defied the prevailing norms of those days
With regard to dressing by a widow
Widows of those days would normally be seen
In white or very light colored attire
But she would ever be seen in dark sari
Well attended hair, just enough facials
And a less prominent forehead mark
Ever in swift gait
Holding an umbrella
Walking distances in afternoon sun
While most of our lady folks would be
In an afternoon nap
At times, it would also happen that
The girl, who she would train,
Would not pick the tunes right
But daughter down the line in the house
Would pick up the lessons better
Than the one for whom it was meant
My cousin did well in her first presentation itself
And got married immediately within months
The music teacher never came to our house after that
Though she attended the wedding
The beginning of married life of my cousin
Marked the end of visit of the music teacher

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Poem Submitted: Sunday, March 31, 2013

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