Being happily unemployed isn’t a state of mind one can convey to one’s mother expecting successful results. She can’t fathom how someone like yours truly could give up a sanguine life and turn to one of near hippiedom. Her devout self fears a life of sin and ruin for her eldest daughter who has wandered further and further away from what she deems to be my fraying clasp on reality and pragmatism.
But lo and behold, I have overcome or am overcoming, to be more precise. She is quite surprised from what I hear. Back at the ‘rents place, my sister flips through my facebook and flickr and hollers “Ma! Come see this!” when she comes across a new album or photograph I’ve posted. I’m told that my mother looks grudgingly impressed. Well she had bloody well better be! I’ve never even owned a camera until 3 months ago. But that didn’t mean that she would ever let me know.
My articles began appearing in the papers. My photographs started getting published. I have a sneaky feeling that she’s already started putting a scrap book together, but again, she’ll probably never let me know this.
Three decades of a mother-daughter squabble had taught us that we will never completely get along. That we will never get eachother. The plan was to never tell her that my love for music, the very music that she will never understand, came from her. She is never to know that I listen to Beethoven with as much passion as she does. That my love for rock n’ roll (thanks to the Beatles that was playing in our house most of the time) and its natural evolution into metal all came from her.
My sister turned 18 a few days ago and as each year passes, the 13 years between us seem to matter less and less. Her taste in music is evolving and we’ve embarked on a journey together, sharing music, playing guitar, singing. A bond of sisterhood is finally starting to come together. On her 18th birthday, I paid a rare visit to maha gedara. My gift to my sister were the Psalms. Not the biblical ones, the Sri Lankan ones. Hot on the heels of the launch, I haven’t been able to listen to anything else and in expected fashion, I burst out into what turned out to be a longer than expected conversation with the maternal unit.
Like a proud parent myself, I went on and on about the boys and their latest album as though they were my own children. I talked to her about the bera and the baila beats and the moments I almost thought I was hearing the Sunflowers, instead of Stigmata. I told her that she can almost feel the classical movements in the songs. I told her of Suresh’s impressive vocal control of his vibrato. I told her that Tenny reminds me of animal on the Muppet Show – that he can’t stand still – that leaping 5 feet into the air, he still plays some of the most complicated riffs I’ve heard. I told her about Andrew and that he lectures classical guitar and how if my sister’s guitar playing were to become more than just a hobby, she should consider sending her to him for lessons. I told her of the complete sense of Sri Lankan-ness that you can’t deny but feel throughout the album – that it was more than just the instrumentation – that the boys had got the feel of this album down to a pat. I told her of the concept behind the Psalms which she actually understood and acknowledged. I played her a few bits and pieces here and there to prove my myriad points and the look of surprise on her face was anything but grudging this time around.
I don’t think Ive ever connected with my mother like that ever before in my life. And so I told her, in not so eloquent a manner, that it was because of her that music as powerful as this was in my life to begin with. This album seems to breaking barriers in the most unexpected spheres of our lives. One would have merely expected it to become one of the most talked about pieces of music in Asia and even the world at large. But no, its doing even bigger things. When the billboard of the album went up on Union Place a few weeks ago, I went there to photograph it. I talked about metal music finally going mainstream. Little did I know that its effects would be far more than what I assumed.
So now, my mother, a music teacher with the most conventional music sense one can imagine a mother to have, wants me to have a listening party for her. And I have a sneaky feeling that when she hears papare meeting Paganini, she’s going to be a firm fan in moments. I think this one hour album is about to negate the effects of a thirty year feud. For that, I thank you.