Can we love humanity like we love music?

(Khaleej Times dated 14 Feb, 2022)


The day Lata Mangeshkar moved on, it was as if a whole generation of Indian music lovers had lost their melodic moorings. It was astounding to see the deluge of sadness that descended on them. From nostalgia and gratitude to sheer devotion and love, the overwhelming sentiments that was made public by people who loved her singing made her immortal in their memories. Some merely wallowed in the dismal thought that the nightingale would sing no more. Some others considered it an irreparable loss to humanity.

What amazed me in particular was the fact that not all those who mourned her passing were connoisseurs of music. Not all had practiced do-re-mi nor had a major understanding of raga and rhythm. Yet there was something that united them all, and it was their love for the beautiful voice and the mellifluous strains it produced.

What brought an entire legion of music lovers together was not their understanding or knowledge of music but an unconditional acceptance of its universal appeal. It was a great moment of connection and coming together of human souls, not based on refined tastes and discerning, but of finding a common spot that defied logic.

I am a mammoth music lover, but I cannot decipher musical details, except identifying a few favourite ragas. I meld into a symphony like ice in water but haven’t the slightest clue of its grammar. What then connects my heart with the soul of music? How do I appreciate something that I do not understand? If I can absorb music into my life without knowing what it entails, why then can’t I connect to people without trying to know or deconstruct them?

I am prompted to compare this link between music and men with the connection between people and wonder why we depend gravely on understanding people to establish human connections. Despite our best efforts to know what is on our minds and communicate it to our fellow beings, we have ended up grossly misunderstanding one another, jeopardizing human relationships and causing mayhem in our lives. Is language and misplaced social intercourse to blame for this slow disintegration of relationships?

It makes me further deliberate if it is because of our dissection of human nature that we have ended up at logger heads with each other, picking up quarrels and sabre-rattling at the smallest instance. Do we try to read beyond what is apparent, find meanings that don’t exist, transmit ideas that we don’t genuinely believe in, speak when it is not necessary and attempt to establish authority over the other, when all we need to do is acknowledge that the other person is an entity just like us, whose anatomy need not be understood nor his mental fabric be scrutinized.

With the evolution of language and the growth of communication channels, we have probably become more adept at analyzing human beings than accommodating them in our lives. And that, in my view, is an irony. We often use our speech to disagree and punch holes in one another’s emotional fabric. Our words are often our nemesis.

Before we cement an association, we tend to put people under the scanner, read their cellular structure and judge them one way or the other. Eventually, the connection either sets or dissolves based on perceptions than on a natural propensity to accept. It has been the way we have built our equations: using our brains. The love that we speak of in glowing terms has slowly begun to move away from the heart to other practical territories, perhaps.

Our predilections are finding newer ways to consummate. We are trying to understand and infer more than to accept and attach. It is nothing like the abiding sentiment we all harbour for music, where the strains are subtle and spiritual, and the affinities are non-cerebral. We don’t try to know what goes into a song as long as it takes us on a flight and puts us among the clouds. We merely allow ourselves to capitulate to its all-pervasive ethos.

If human language will be a barrier to loving unconditionally, of what use is it to our life’s fulfilment? If our communication will only create chaos, of what purpose is such speech? If our relations are aimed at decoding one another, of what value are our affections?

If there is anything that I have learnt from my embracement of music of different genres without mastering it, it is this: only when we anchor ourselves to a seminal connection that transcends our limited comprehensions will we find true love – both in ourselves and in the other.



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