Flash by M. Kaur
They say music has three parts--Naad (sound), Anaad (silence), and Anaahad (emotion). As a weaver threads weft through warp to create patterned cloth, so a musician threads Naad through Anaad and creates music. But Anaahad is more elusive. It does not bend to the will of the artist alone. Those who believe in such things say that Anaahad comes from Saraswati--the goddess of music. A musician is merely the vessel through which her blessings flow to the audience.
I take my seat just as the lights dim in the concert hall, drawing the pallu of my sari over my shoulders in anticipation of the air conditioning kicking in. As the curtain rises, it reveals a semi-circular stage where two performers are already seated on a cushioned mattress. In one corner, I notice a tall, traditional oil lamp--the sort I’ve only seen in temples before. The aroma of ghee warmed by the lit cotton wicks wafts over to me, mixed with the scent of burning incense. Red, yellow, and orange marigold petals, arranged below the lamp, glimmer like tiny flames in the lamplight. The musicians bow to the audience. They are to perform a piece arranged in Raag Megh Malhar, a traditional composition that celebrates the monsoon season. According to legend, a really accomplished artist can make it rain by playing this Raag.
The sitar player starts to pluck the strings of her instrument. The rising and falling notes sound like the wind, gusting just before a storm. Suddenly, the tabla thunders into the performance and then fades into a rhythmic percussion--like the rapid patter of water droplets slapping the ground. As the torrent of sound washes over me, my skin absorbs its vibrations like thirsty soil. I get a whiff of the gold thread that embroiders my silk sari--it tastes like petrichor.
M. Kaur (she/her) @manjitsekhon is a learning strategist turned creative writer. She is writing a collection of short stories based on her family’s experience during the partition of India and Pakistan in 1947. Her flash “The Red Scarf” was published at Apparition Lit, and her short story “The Healer” was published in Community of Magic Pens at Atthis Arts.