Word Count: 1217 | Estimated time to read blog: 10 minutes
Gonu was a mouth-organist who played popular Bollywood songs on the beach to make ends meet. Being dumb since birth, his only form of expression was his mouth-organ and each evening he spent his time on the beach entertaining kids who would generously hand over a rupee or two from their pocket money in return for his melodies.
He stayed alone in a tumbledown jhompdi by the beach. His income was paltry and the fact that he was disabled in a way also added on to his continued bachelorhood. And life wasn’t a Bollywood story in which a smiling heroine would embrace him despite his penury. So he was happy living life on his own.
But like all artists who listen to their inner voice, Gonu had realized that he had a streak of originality within him. He had an irresistible creative urge to vent out his inner self and each time he set his lips on to the mouth-organ, he played it with a panache that left the listener enthralled. He always wanted to play something original but he had to oblige to ‘popular demand’ to earn his pennies.
“Let’s hear that song from Rangeela”, the kids would say and he would agree with a smile.
After counting the day’s earnings, he would decide his meal accordingly and return to the beach. The crowds would have left for the comfort of their homes and the beach would be desolate but for the company of the sweet sound of the waves crashing against the rocks once very often. He would settle himself at a spot overlooking the sea and play his original compositions. There were no notes to guide him – only his creative instinct. This was his ritual each day and only after venting out this accumulated creative energy could he sleep for the night.
At evening time the beach was frequented by joggers, lovers and kids. Others would come for a helping of pav-bhaaji, the light breeze, the warm sand and the kaleidoscopic canvas of the evening sky. Gonu moved across the beach playing his mouth organ and soon he was surrounded by kids with myriad requests.
“Play Bhool-Bhulaiyya”, requested an obese kid, munching on a vada-pav.
“Don’t you think it’s just the moment for Hum Tum”, murmured a dreamy Romeo to his love.
Several such requests were granted in return for a rupee and if the listener decided to pay more, it was Gonu’s luck. Darkness had fallen and it was Gonu’s time to count the day’s earnings under the street lamp. As he stood counting he was approached by a man whose oversized tummy clearly indicated that he was affluent.
“I heard you play filmy tunes on the beach today. I liked it. You seem to have a way with kids and your music is quite good”, said he.
Gonu gesticulated his thanks indicating that he couldn’t speak and the man took the cue.
“I am celebrating my son’s birthday party day after tomorrow and thought you could come and play the mouth-organ to entertain all the kids. I will give you Rs 500. Will you come?” enquired the man. Gonu was overjoyed! He readily accepted and took the man’s visiting card.
Gonu arrived at the venue on time. It was a lovely party. There were kids all around and Gonu played all evening to entertain them. He was very much liked by the kids as he knew a few of their nursery rhymes as well and his film songs were just amazing. They piled up their requests until there were no more songs in their mind and then it was time to leave.
The servants were busy cleaning up the place and moving things away. The birthday boy’s father eventually came over to where Gonu had been waiting for some time now.
“You weren’t all that good as I thought you are. I didn’t quite like your performance today. Anyways, here is Rs 100 for your time and be done with it”. And he was gone. Gonu tried to protest but his dumb cries fell on deaf ears and he returned to the beach with a heavy heart.
He lay on the beach, filled with remorse at life’s inequities. The night was still and the waves too were morosely silent today. A hunchback moon glistened on an otherwise inky sky like a cut on a black velvet curtain held against a light bulb. He placed his mouth-organ to his lips and closed his eyes. What followed was an unrestrained rhapsody that was a result of his feelings, subdued emotions and his creative urge. He played his original tune with a masterly instinct and at the end of it, was very much relieved.
As he opened his eyes, he saw some movement in the distance. He soon realized that he was being watched by a man and all this time when he thought he was alone, he was mistaken.
“That was a fantastic tune”, applauded the man from the shadows and came closer.
“Why don’t you play it again? It was amazing”, he urged.
Gonu yielded to this request, glad that someone found his original composition worthy of an encore. The man thoroughly praised him for the rendition and walked away, leaving behind a glowing Gonu who forgot the day’s woes.
3 months later:
It was business as usual but owing to examinations, the turnout of kids was pretty low. So, instead of spending yet another fruitless evening by the beach, Gonu decided to take out a few rupees from his savings and go for a movie. There’d been much talk about the latest musical blockbuster and he decided to check it out.
After the initial few minutes the much awaited song, Saatvan Aasman was screened. Gonu was shocked to hear one of his own original tunes being used in the movie! Rent with anger he cried out incoherently, only to be rudely forced to stay quiet by the other movie-watchers beside him. He tried to think about the possibility of a coincidence but the memory of the stranger he had encountered on the beach a few months ago suddenly leaped to his mind, making things clear. The others all around were singing along and praising the genius of the music director to have conceptualized and composed such a master piece.
The song, Saatvan Aasman, became a big hit and the music director, the man whom Gonu had met on the beach, was hailed as one of the best composers of all time.
“Play Kabhi Alvida na Kehna”, requested the girl in a pony tail and pink skirt and the other girls in her group smiled and waited for Gonu to begin.
Just as he was about to begin, one of the girls interrupted-
“No, no wait. Play Saatvan Aasman instead. I love that song and it is so different”, and all the girls giggled and agreed. Gonu played the tune that he was so familiar with and the girls were pleased.
“It was good but not quite as good as the original in the movie”, said one of them and they ran away to where their parents were, after tossing him a coin.
Gonu looked at the rupee coin and blinked away tears as he pocketed the price for his original composition.
|My first attempt at short-story writing. Inspired by a true-life incident|