When You Need a Song to Recover

21 Apr

My mother has this less than delightful habit of waking me up first thing in the morning with a piece of really terrible news. It doesn’t matter if I’m in the next room or halfway around the world – she’ll always find a way to tell me something truly horrible. In the past six months she’s told me about suicides, rapes, murder, child abandonment, incurable disease and famine in great detail, generally when I’m trying to make my brain function with the aid of some caffeine. Of course, once I’ve talked to her, caffeine’s quite useless: liquor is what I need. If you ever hear that I’ve entered rehab, believe me when I blame my problems on everybody else.

I suspect a more heartless or less imaginative child would have told her off by now but since she’s always perturbed when relaying the bad news and goes off in a much more cheery mood once she’s finished ruining my day (and sometimes my week), I don’t have the heart to tell her to stop it. I’m just glad she hasn’t yet started to discuss the daily obituaries with me. No, that cheerful job belongs to my dad, who enjoys it just as much as she does.

Digression: actually, I think obituary reading is kind of great – not the death part of it, so much, but the fact that you actually know so many people that that carefully posed photograph in the newspaper isn’t somebody else’s tragedy but one in which you too are involved. Birth, marriage and death, after all, are the three times in your life that you really feel a part of a community. It’s just too bad that when it comes to you personally, two of those times you’re insensible of it and when you’re getting married, you’re so stressed you wish you were insensible of it.

Getting back to my mother and her macabre obsessions, she’ll occasionally relate the gory gossip to my aunt before she weighs me down with it. I prefer this because my aunt always has a refreshingly acerbic reaction to these stories that make me feel better about them. And ever since she fought off a second bout of cancer, she’s only gotten more no-nonsense. The downside to this is that when she does get emotional, she gets really teary eyed so you have to really pick and choose what stories you’re going to share with her. You probably already know this but it bears repeating: cancer is a filthy disease and its cure is about as bad as it is.

So Ma’s latest effort to unburden herself involved a series of really silly teenagers who were killing themselves like lemmings all over our hometown. Gone to the beach lately? Look what washed up on the shore – it’s Romeo and Juliet! Is your kid’s bedroom door locked? Break it down coz Romeo and Juliet are lying dead on his bed.

Ma told Auntie about these young morons before she laid it on me, to which Auntie said: “Suicide? Suicide?! Suicide is too good for them! They should be flogged, the skin should be stripped from their flesh before they’re boiled in oil! Idiots! Fools! If only I could have put my hands on them!”

Rather violent, yes. But totally awesome.

However, what do I do when my auntie isn’t around to threaten torture to those who transgress and make me feel better? Well, a few golden oldies will do the trick. For example:

5. O jogi jab se tu aaya

4. Beqarar karke hamein – from one of my all time favorite movies, Bees Saal Baad. And if anybody so much as mentions that Mithun ghost flick, there will be blood. Also, how weird is it to watch Hemant Kumar’s voice emerge from Biswajeet’s face?

3. Arre yaar meri, tum bhi ho gazab – I used to be obsessed with this song. Mainly because I couldn’t figure out what he meant by “Ahamanokaha”. In my defense, I was a very little girl.

2. Main sitaron ka tarana

1. Pyar hua, ikraar hua – I can’t remember a time when I haven’t known or loved this song. I still catch my breath when they sing, “chand na chamkega kabhi“.


Posted by on April 21, 2008 in Entertainment, Life, Movies, Music, Personal, Video


13 responses to “When You Need a Song to Recover

  1. rads

    April 21, 2008 at 7:36 pm

    lol@mom. Mine does relate such gory incidents much to my husband’s shock at the insensitivity, no matter the audience! It’s such fun watching his expressions as she prattles on.

    Lovely songs. 🙂

  2. sidekick

    April 21, 2008 at 10:53 pm

    sounds uncannily like my mom! in my mom’s defense though she tells the gory stories, the happy ones and the funny ones with equal alacrity. my aunt (my mom’s older sis) is also a cancer survivor and an extremely frank and no-nonsense person, who often gets first dibs on my mom’s stories. so while i was reading yr post it was eerie to see my own experiences with mom and aunt mirrored.

    i do like yr pick-me-up- i shd try yr playlist as an antidote to gloomy stories.

  3. OrangeJammies

    April 22, 2008 at 6:36 am

    My boyfriend does the same!!!! Every damn morning!!! No matter which city he’s in!!! I am woken up like clocking with some loving words and news of the stave-sleep-off kind. Aaaaaaaargh!

  4. OrangeJammies

    April 22, 2008 at 6:37 am

    My boyfriend does the same!!!! Every damn morning!!! No matter which city he’s in!!! I am woken up like clockwork with some loving words and news of the stave-sleep-off kind. Aaaaaaaargh!

  5. Gagan

    April 22, 2008 at 6:37 am

    Not sure if its a uniquely Indian thing. Woody Allen has made a career of it. In my family it’s my father. We all scatter like crows now when he starts to unload. Think we have conditioned him to be more self contained but we must always be vigilant, on alert for when it might happen again. My mother says it was passed down from his mother but it appears to have skipped a generation this time. Touch wood. We might still up in rehab out of some sublimated guilt over it . Either way you pay hey Amrita. Nice vids. just hit me about Nargis, she’s not acting its like she is actually becoming the person. Leaves you feeling like a voyeur, she’s so good. Smita Patel was like that too. Amazing actresses

  6. M

    April 22, 2008 at 10:48 am


    I think I *like* your mother – my husband insists I am a similar kind of person! (and yes, we’re still married :-))

    Love the playlist, but of late, everytime I watch a B&W movie clip, all I can focus on are eyeborws – surely threading existed then! (yes, I’m shallow!)

    Another good pick-me-upper – Any Dev Anand song, his head bobbing always makes me laugh!


  7. Amrita

    April 22, 2008 at 11:18 am

    Rads – hee hee, everyone’s got someone like Ma at home, right?

    Sidekick – my auntie is my mom’s older sis too! what’re the odds huh? 🙂 Ma will tell me the cutesie stories too but our local paper at home is all about the bad news.

    OJ – lol, poor you! maybe he just wants you to get to work on time 😀

    Gagan – reading about your mother’s reaction made me immediately think of my own parents! The moment one of them does something wonky, they’ll instantly blame it on their parents. they should do parties… Nargis in black and white is magical. she’s so underrated for her pre-Mother India performances but i think her real genius showed in her earlier roles rather than MI which I frankly can’t stand.

    M – hahahha, are you really?! And hey, i’m just as shallow… I dont know what the deal is with eyebrows: i think they tweezed or something. or else they liked them bushy and resembling question marks. With you on Dev Anand – i nearly posted one very head wobbly vid. will do next time for you 🙂

  8. narendra shenoy

    April 22, 2008 at 11:39 am


  9. dipali

    April 22, 2008 at 1:04 pm

    Loved the post and the comments:)

    We’ve decided that newspapers are good only for the Sudok and the crossword, otherwise they are just too depressing(:

  10. Rada

    April 22, 2008 at 2:18 pm

    For a moment, I had the sinking feeling you knew my mother-in-law, the queen of horror tidings..

    May I add to the playlist?

    – Woh shyam kuch ajeeb thi (Kishore)
    – Yaad na jaaye..(Rafi)
    – Poocho na kaise (Manna Dey)
    – Sham-e-gham ki kasam (Talat)
    – Aao huzoor tumko (Asha)
    – Rangila re (Lata)

    And these are just off the top of my head!


  11. Gagan

    April 22, 2008 at 9:38 pm

    similar story here, although its not straight back to their parents, some early losses there, more to that extended network of aunts and uncles and cousins. cookie cutter analogy a little trite but it does apply to desi families. On the good side it makes for a huge audience for raconteurs like yourself.
    Will have watch more of the Nargis oeuvre. Still an impressionist of Indian cinema. Need to see more.

  12. Aspi

    April 22, 2008 at 11:08 pm

    Hey I love watching bhule bisre geet. Although they get wrapped up in a show around here called “Abhi to mein javaan hoon” which has a host that scares the daylights out of me for some reason.

    But I long for something really obscure – like Raj Kapoor’s Chino Arab Hamara. Still one of my favorites.

  13. Amrita

    April 25, 2008 at 1:08 pm

    Narendra – welcome to the blog 🙂

    Dipali – you might be on to something. and omg, how much do i love sudoku?

    Rada – LOL!!! those are some great songs btw. dont you love the internet and Youtube?

    Gagan – really, you think of me as a raconteur? It sure sounds better than anything else anybody’s ever called me 😀 and yes, there is most definitely a cookie cutter-ness to desi life. thank god for it too coz if we didn’t have that then we wouldnt have anything to break the ice with!
    You should try the early Nargis (with raj kapoor) – she’s hugely enjoyable. and surprisingly modern.

    Aspi – i had that song! and then i lost the disc and havent replaced it yet. Come to think of it, i dont know if it CAN be replaced. def one of my faves. “Abhi to main jawan hoon” sounds totally pervy and awesome 😀

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