When My Words Got Voice

Anup Joshi
When My Words Got Voice

As I stepped my right foot on the black-tarred road from the public bus, I felt jolly. The sun had just set down and the sky was bidding it farewell with the garlands of clouds. All red. I proclaimed, sunset is the best part of the day. I crossed the road carefully following the recently painted zebra-cross and paused. I gave a moment to inspect the newly build four-lane road segregated by an array of beautiful flowers. Everything looked grand. April was not a cruelest month anymore. I welcomed the cold-breeze to embrace my heart. It was the first time I had traveled through the Maitighar-Baneshwor road (probably the best road of the country at that time) after its completion.
I felt a big relief when Nepal Art Gallery came into view as directed by my phone-guide Anand Rai. I passed through its gate and chased the mud-laden road looking for the sign of “Prism Digital Studio” on both sides. Restaurants, grocery stores, a tailor, a school but no sign of the studio. As the narrow road split into two, I became completely perplexed which side to follow. Then, I called my guide and saw the green colored board of one Finance Company on the farther side of the road that went left, as dictated by the voice. When I reached there, my eyes could not find any board of Prism Studio as promised. So, I had to call him again. “Turn around, I am waving at you, Geetkar”, loud music was audible in the background as he spoke. Unable to find him, I became nervous and felt foolish. Only after circling thrice, I could see two guys screaming at me from the veranda of fourth floor of a house, beyond three one-storied buildings from the road.
The studio was on the last two flats of the yellow building. As I climbed upstairs, first two floors looked like rental-house as there were clothes left to be dry on the veranda and there was no board on the entrance of the flat to indicate it was an office.
When the queer, long digit caller ID made my phone ring, I was fumbling on the bed fantasizing myself as a wizard. With my first three wishes granted by God, my teeth were straight, my body was muscular and pimples wiped away from my face. Then He took me to another world for a night. In the universe I was taken, one day on earth was equivalent to six years. So, by leaving earth for a night, I could spend three years there. During my stay there, He introduced me with the best violinist, best sorcerer and best physicist of His universe. My masters taught me incredible things and when I wake up in the morning, I was going to acquire the knowledge of the world that no one has yet deciphered on earth. By writing a science fiction novel exhibiting my strange adventures and the wisdom earned, I was destined to be the successful international writer and the most powerful man on earth.
In Biratnagar, mosquitos horrify with their cacophonic buzz even during the shivering cold of February, so I had tightened the net around my bed and was pampered inside warm blanket. It was quarter to ten and we already had our dinner. A dim bulb, powered by a small range inverter was glowing in the adjoining room, differentiated by a curtained door.
Lying against the bed, covered by a big blanket, Bhinaju was scribbling something in his copy, a big bulky book in front of him. A Physics lecturer in Mahendra Moranag Campus, he was preparing for his class the following day. Beside him, my four years old niece, Nona was wildly playing her baba’s Nokia phone. Anita Didi was already asleep on the far end of the bed.
I had developed this habit of fantasizing since I was eight. At that time, a third-grade student, I used to live with my Kanchhi Didi at Bhotewodar, in a rental room. It was a three-storied cement-plastered extravagant building and we lived in a room at the top floor. A Gurung women was a tenant on the ground floor with her three daughters, Seema, Bina, China, and a son Thaku who was the youngest of all. They were all my friend, with whom I used to play. Every evening, we used to watch a fantasy-adventure series ‘Son Pari’ in the 21-inch big Panasonic color TV they possessed. Fruity, the child character had wizards Sona Aunty and Altu Uncle as her mentor. They would perform miracle in a swing of a wand and wipe any problem of Fruity away. I was so addicted to this series that I started to fantasize that one day I will also acquire a magical wand and will be able to make happen anything I aspire. Every time, when I was idle, I used to lie alone and imagine series of adventure stories with myself as a protagonist. Decade has passed, and this habit still clings with me.
“Bhai, I am Umesh Dai”, the voice proclaimed. Curiosity hit me. It had been months since we had last chatted. Umesh Dai was a musician living in Germany and was in preparation for his new album. He had heard about me from Ashok Dai and instantly sent me a friend request on Facebook.
“Bhai, I was busy last few months with the new business I have started. But the wonderful news for you is that finally your lyrics are going to be recorded. I have talked with Shiva Pariyar and he’s agreed to sing your song Timro Pyaar. Music track is also already made. He has roughly sung it, do you wanna hear?”
I was amazed to hear the news. Shiva Pariyar will sing my song? The top male singer of the time whose songs are my sleeping friends. How can this be real? Is it a part of my fantasy daydream where anything is possible in a swing of my magic wand?
I could not grasp so much of the song playing on my phone, but I recognized it really was the voice of Shiva Pariyar, the Shiva Pariyar who is the singer of my most beloved songs Alikati najar timro, Kaha thiyau, and Fewa Tal maa Saili. I was so much happy at that moment.
“I am arranging vacation for Kathmandu soon and after I arrive, I will release the music album shortly. I am searching singers for your other songs too. Despite your young age, your words are wonderful Bhai. I will also pay the usual rate for your lyrics so that it will encourage you to write in future”.
I was speechless.
Nine months earlier, I was stuck with my final examination of class 11. My results were dwindling in every internal exams and Anita Didi was furious. She would yell “What on earth are you going to do with such lousy marks, eh? All you do is play with your mobile and write poems. It will destroy you”.
I was studying Science at the Arniko College where my Bhinaju taught. With 85% in SLC, I had received warm welcome in college along with heavy discount in tuition fees in request of Bhinaju. But my performance was growing worse and was nowhere near satisfactory. Anjesh Kafle, son of his colleague who taught mathematics was continuously coming top among hundreds. But my name was descending from the rows of result lists. I know Bhinaju was upset with me. But he did not tell me anything directly. For he was striving with his own problems.
It was the exam of Physics the next morning and in the evening, I was trying hard to memorize all the theory part sitting on my bed, which lay at one side of the Kitchen. I was good with the derivation part, but numerical were the tough part for me. Out of 75 marks, 25 marks would be numerical and I was determined to skip them.
Anita Didi was cooking Brinjal curry on a frying pan. On the other side of the gas stove, daal was whistling in pressure cooker. Due to load-shedding, fan could not run and the room was overwhelmingly hot. Heat emission form the cooking was making it worse. I was reading aloud with the help of dim inverter-bulb wearing a sando and pajama, sweating. Nona was outside on the veranda, playing with neighboring kids. Bhinaju was also outdoor sitting on the bench escaping from the unbearable heat inside.
As she finished cooking, Anita Didi also went outside to feel the cool air. Alone, I logged into my Facebook via my Nokia Java phone which supported GPRS. There was a message from Ashok Dai:
Anup Bhai, I have been loving your writing enthusiasm since I came to know you through Facebook. Your poems like Urusa ma Hitler Bandaichhu have influenced me a lot. Energetic, rebellion, I find my younger self in you. When I was of your age, I was like you. But I could not heave my writing career, due to many hardships. But I want you to pursue your dream. Here in Germany, I have come across a musician Umesh Subba, who is working with few of my songs. I have talked about you with him and he is interested to see your lyrics. Can you try writing some? He is planning for an album and if he likes it, he will record your songs.
Ashok Dai was a wonderful person and he has always encouraged me. One of his music video sung by Satyaraj Acharya was recently launched and won award. A wave of excitement flowed across me. My song to be composed by a musician? Can that really happen?
Later that night, after dinner, I shared my feelings with Shrudina.
Before August 27th, when I turned sixteen, I already had penned my first two songs which were to be recorded after one and half year due to several obstructions.
I took off my sport shoes at the entrance door of third floor and put it on the rack where other shoes were kept. As I crossed the channel gate on shocks, I saw a medium height man wearing a black suit in the ladder signaling me to come upstairs. He was already climbing up before I could greet.
In the door of the room that came first on fourth floor, “Recording Studio” was written. The man pushed the door in hurry and I followed him.
Inside, two persons were sitting in chairs controlling the recording machine. I instantly knew by the long curly hair, one was Umesh Subba Dai. He was a seven-foot-tall man who looked like an European and wore a blue color t-shirt and a fancy jeans pant. I later knew another person to be Shyamswet Rasaili, who was the popular mixer of the time.
I greeted them Namaste as soon I entered into the room. Floor of the room was covered with red carpet. “Bhai, your song is being recorded. I wish you’d have come earlier”, Umesh Dai told me. I smiled back.
“You are so young. Yet your song is so new and beautiful”, I knew by voice the man speaking to me was Anand Rai. He had called me to inform about Umesh Dai’s arrival the previous day. Anand and Umesh Dai were relatives. Anand’s brother had married Umesh’s sister. Anand Rai was a renowned musician of the country. He also joined them by taking a chair. Behind them, there was a bench, I got seated there.
There was an inner room separated by glass window.  A person was singing song, but I did not know him. But I knew by the words that it was mine. Harera lagyeu man aaja, najikai bhayeu jhan aaja…
Shyamswet Rasaili was recording the audio in a computer. On the screen, I could see the sound waves flowing. Anand Rai was continuously insisting the singer to sing as directed. The singer was made to sing the same line time and again until the composer was satisfied. Umesh Dai was making the singer remember the tune of the song continuously.
In few minutes, the singer came to us from his recording chamber. Anand Dai introduced me with him as a lyricist of the song. He smiled at him, I too smiled back. He was Bishwa Nepali, whose name I had never heard before. At that time, I was disappointed that a new guy was given to sing my song. But next few years Bishwa earned his position in Nepali music industry and became a popular modern singer.
My mother has ocean of stories. I concluded after I had heard hundreds of stories from her. She was a mother who fed her children in their mouth, a wife who did everything her husband asked for. She worked all day long and never stayed idle for a second. Whenever I denied to eat, she would stir the lousy food with a story and it would become the tastiest food on earth.
She used to tell me the stories of birds, animals, kings, prince, princesses, of giants and ghosts. I used to love them all. They were filled with curiosity and suspense. She would instantly create a story by herself without any brainstorming.
Inspired from her, I would gather my friends after school, and tell the stories I heard from my mother. Sometimes, I would mix many stories and make one. I had determined that after I grow old, I will also have oceans of stories and be a story teller like Aama.
I am the sixth child of my parents, the most awaited son after five consecutives daughters. My third sister born after Ambika Didi and Anita Didi died of unknown disease when she was three. My eldest sister Ambika is 16 years older than me and youngest Kanchhi is 8 years older. I got raised up pampered by the love of four sisters. I got many things which they could never get. For my mother, I am her Messiah, the chosen one who saved her family. Rumors were that my father was going for second marriage, hadn’t I cared to burst from her womb.
I spent my childhood at the backdrop of Maoist arm based revolution. A primary boarding school was recently open in Tilahar, the capital of our VDC which lay an hour uphill from my village Ramchowk. The most awaited son of a social man, every student who studied in government secondary school in Tilahar from our village was eager to carry me when I went to school. I never had to suffer one hour walk when I was tiny person.
After I studied nursery and UKG, the boarding was hacked by Maoist. The next two years, I studied grade 2 and 3 in the primary government school near my home, then I joined a boarding school founded in Tilahar again. Maoist bombed it down in three months and Buwa sent me with Kanchhi Didi to Bhotewodar where she was studying plus two commerce.
When I was studying in class three, my father bought Muna Madan for me and read aloud all the lines from it. I was so much touched by the suffering of Madan that I memorized couples of lines from it. Those line stood with me forever in my life.
In Bhotewodar, I felt homesick. Kanchhi Didi’s classes were on morning and she would leave early at 5, already making lunch ready. The whole morning, I would be alone. I would descend downstairs and play with the other kids in the house. We would play police-thief and I would carry a wooden gun and chase the enemy. At that time, we were so much fascinated by wrestling. We would also think ourselves as wrestlers and fight each other imitating what we see on TV. Around 8 am, I would eat the food already prepared, lock the room and leave for school, which was 10 minutes away from my place.
I had joined class 3 in the middle of the year(after Tihar), so I had very difficulties adjusting there. The course was already in the verge of completion. Teachers were so cruel that they would roam around carrying a long pipe-stick, which wouldn’t hesitate to strike the soft hand of small kids even at the small mistakes. You would have to memorize everything on the book and if you forget one, pipes would slam on your palms. There was no skipping to it.
Finally, I found a way to be saved from the atrocities of my teachers. From then on, I would usually be sick. Sometimes headache, sometime stomachache, I would resist going school for the whole year and the next one. “I won’t go to school. I am not feeling well” I would proclaim. Kanchhi Didi aware of my pretension, would drag me to the school anyway. I would fight with her, curse her. Crying alone, I would sing songs expressing my suffering. The words would be mine.
Happiness would come on Friday when we go home, stay for a night and return the next day. I would buy so many marbles to take home. I will play with my friends Amrit, Sushil, Sujan, Kale, Gauli and all. I will give them a drop from my oceans of stories. Everyone would follow me, everyone would envy me.
Crickets were expressing their grief in multitude followed by the cacophony of frogs. After six hours continuous load shedding, electricity had just arrived. The spinning fan gave some relief from the unbearable heat inside. I was sitting on my bed, supporting my backbone with pillow and was browsing internet from my mobile. Books were scattered on rest part of the bed. In the adjoining room, Anita Didi was pleading Bhinaju to take the mind-comforting medicine which he was refusing.
“Did you finished reading all?” Shurdina texted me on Facebook chat. “Chapter on electricity and magnetism could not go inside my head. I don’t know what will happen to my exam tomorrow”, I replied.
My eyes had found Shrudina for the first time in the orientation class. I was on the third bench of the left row and she was on the fourth bench of the middle row of the class. Once I saw her, my eyes were continuously following her. Less than five feet, she was shorter than me. She had round face like mine, her eyes were bigger and beautiful, hair long enough to reach the bench she was sitting. She was the most beautiful Newari Girl I had ever seen. I was observing everything she was doing. The way she took out her copy from her bag, the way she scribbled something in her copy, everything was so soothing to me. When she laughed at the silly joke of the instructor, I was smiling at her.
Soon we became good friends and would exchange notes with each other. When I proposed her in the second week we started to chat on Facebook, she thought I was flirting and did not treat it seriously.
That night when I told her musicians are asking me to write songs, “Really? then write a song about me” she suggested. During the course of months, we had become so intimate that I had written couple of love poems and letters addressing her. She had always appreciated what I wrote and motivated me to write more.
Before going to sleep, I wrote a song thinking about her, describing how she has succeeded in occupying space in my heart and when I shared it with her, she was so much happy and gave kisses.
When I sent that lyrics the next day after I returned from exam to Umesh Dai in his inbox, he said he liked the song. It was my first song which Bishwa Nepali sang after a year.
Shiva Pariyar arrived at studio as soon as the recording of Harera Lagyeu was done. He had long hair and his lips were exceptionally broader. Average height, slim body, he really looked like a celebrity in the leather jacket and jeans he was wearing.
Anand Dai introduced me with him as a lyricist of the song Timro pyaar. In response, he said “Bhai the song is very literary. It’s hard to believe that you wrote it at such an early age.” His voice was very humble and lovely.
Umesh Subba was preparing two albums. One was a solo album Tadha ko sathi with Shiva Pariyar, which would be the ninth solo album for the singer. It would consist of six songs, among them one was penned by me. In another collaborative album called Ranga, four songs will be under Umesh Dai composition and rest four under Anand Dai composition. My song Harera Lagyeu would be collected under this second album.
            It was around seven thirty and from the window of the room, I could see the lights glowing in the houses of Kathmandu. Shiva Pariyar went inside the recording chamber, whose wall was decorated with silencer. With directions of Umesh Dai, he gave voice to the title song of the album Tadha Ko Sathi which was penned by Ashok dai. The song was fast and melodious. It expressed the jolly feeling of two friends who meet after a long time crossing the barriers on the way.
Umesh Dai informed me that my song by Shiva Pariyar was scheduled to be recorded the following day. They had already recorded the song few days ago, but still it asked for a final recording.
            When we got out of the yellow building, it was quarter to nine. The fresh air blowing outside thrilled me. The weird experiences of the day would be crafted on my minded forever. Umesh Dai went with Anand Dai on his bike. Shiva Pariyar proposed me to drop my place as it was already night and I would not get any public vehicle. Though he lived around Ghattekulo, on his Pulsar bike, he drove past his place and dropped me near Ratopul. Walking five minutes from there I reached my room.
            That night, I was so happy. Something I had never imagined in my life had happened. My song was to be released soon. After the release of the Album from Amber Gurung, the legendary singer and musician of Nepali music industry in May 1st 2013, my song hit Nepalese media and did good. It stayed top in the hit list of Image and Kantipur FM. Radios throughout the country played it with priority. 
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About Anup Joshi

Anup Joshi is an emerging young writer searching for space in Nepali literature. He writes poems, stories and lyrics for songs. As a student of English literature he loves reading books. He is also a passionate photographer and enjoys travelling.
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