My muse – If Music be the Food of Life!

Subhash Mathur

Subhash Mathur was born and brought up in small towns in Rajasthan. During his school and college education at Jaipur, he was keenly involved in sports, journalism and public speaking. His civil services career has given him a platform for spreading his ideas about modernising tax administration to benefit the commmon man. Post retirement he is devoting his energies, along with his wife Tilak, to public and humane causes.

It's Jolly (The Good Fellow) times again.

The Republic Day morning in January 1981 was gloriously sunny and cool at the same time. The sky was clear blue, dotted with wafts of cirrus clouds thinly spread.

The Flag hoisting ceremony was at 8.30 am sharp. Followed by fun and games for children and adults. The proceedings went with clockwork precision. We were on course for 9.30 date with refreshments. Spread of freshly baked Hot Samosas and juicy Jalebis from Suchha halwai, Lays wafers, bananas and a choice of Wagh Bakeri tea or coffee! Nescafe!

Jolly inspected the Guard of Honour without much fuss, and followed it up with handshakes with a few Retirees. (How much he disliked them – parasites living off the Dept even in retirement.)

The Flag hoisting went off smoothly – in one tug the National Flag opened fully. The Rose petals floated down gently on Jolly. Everyone clapped. The gentle breeze added finesse to the singing of the National Anthem! Attention!

For me it was all going too well for my unsustainable comfort levels.

Addl Commissioner: let's name him Mukhota. Waddled up to me in a blue Three Piece Suit with a Flaming Red Tie. "Subhash, Congrats! All nice and smooth eh!"

"Sir, you know, something is bound to give!"

And give it did! In just a while.

Mukhota – take care and fingers crossed! And, Mukhota walked off to attend to, something more important.

And soon we approached the Finale of the morning show. The Musical Chairs for Adults – truly a master piece thought! Needed some imagination on my part to come up with such an innovative idea![No funding from VCs.] But to my surprise the adults welcomed the announcement with a whoosh! Enthu ran high as everyone wanted to participate!

Jehangir The PRO hastily arranged for more chairs from the office! The count stopped at 26 like Special Chabees! Akshay con! Vying for the big prize! A Top! (Lattu, yaar). But neatly wrapped up in bright colours and ensconced in a big box! Sort of camouflage!

I was unanimously voted to be the Umpire. Senior but not that senior! I liked that.

Games PRO Boohoo blew the whistle and everyone fell in line around the chairs! Anticipation, excitement and expectations were running high! Everyone wanted to lay their hands that Big Bright Box!

Without a warning the music started 'बाग़ों में बहार hai फूले main' ... and the shrill whistle went off. Aaur kaarava chal pada! The Wheels of the Bus Go Round and Round - like that.

Stay near the chair. Touch every chair. Take the corner quickly. Listen to music closely. U can Win! Sure!

Jolly was also in the queue! And so was the Missus!

Round one. The music went on forever! Ensnaring the Chair was becoming tenuous by the second!

Suddenly the music stopped! Frenetic scramble for a vacant chair! Run and grab! Run and grab! Whichever way! Right or Wrong! Why bother. No matter how! But get a chair! Who wants to go out in ROUND ONE?

Minders quickly resolved the disputes. Yet one participant HAD to be OUT! Rules of the Game. All seats taken! But who’s the last man standing!

Horror! Calamity! Holy Mackerel! Hey Bhagwan! Not Jolly, you Bums! The Missus! First Lady herself!

Over to me. The Umpire!! How tricky it could get! So fast! No referral! No replay! No snicko! No stump cam! No camera mike! Field Umpire: take the Call! And I sure did! After all I was the umpire with no Oversight!

"Out!", I bellowed! [Off with Her Head!]

The wind dropped. The sun hid under the white cirrus clouds. The chill spread. Consternation! ewilderment! Shock! And awe! On every countenance!

I stood frozen! Having shouted Out. Why didn't the earth swallow me! Like Sita Mata?

Out of the blue, Wifey marched up to me with face Red Hot and bristling at the ears, stood tall in her heels and unleashed "Subhash Mathur, u r a Nincompoop." And the unprintable! And banished me to the Dug Out!

Wifey then marched back to Missus: "Mam, this was a trial run! The game will begin Now!"

PRO "Boohoo: Let the Music play!"

Again! "लाल chaadi मैदान खड़ी........!"

Eventually, Jolly and Missus went out in the round of four and three! But happily! Reputation intact! I watched helplessly from the dug out!

And the glorious Republic Day turned out to be not so much about Constitution but more of sheer Unjoy.

We did become EVEN STEVENS but that is for another day and another time.

Ciao! Till then.


Excellent ...

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