Amaan and Ayaan Ali Khan at Kala Ghoda Arts Festival, 2014 (By Ankita Shreeram)
The trees have ears too. They grow attentive, when there's something magical in the air. Like the sound of the sarod. And the tabla keeping pace with it. And the cheers of an adoring audience. Some of whom are hearing these instruments for the first time. And some for the millionth. For some, it's the first time their soul has been touched this lovingly. For others, it's like coming home. But for all, it's something more sublime than the everyday living experience. Something that transcends daily trivialities and makes that moment the only one that matters. Something that makes the hair on their arms stand to attention (perhaps they have ears too) and the moisture collect in their eyes in a way that's neither happy nor sad. What the moisture does is to make you feel connected to your own life force. Most times, I feel like I'm leading a stranger's life - performing actions on autopilot while my true essence lies restlessly elsewhere. But back there on the steps of Asiatic Library, with Amaan and Ayaan Ali Khan performing for me in flesh and blood, I didn't feel that way. My fingers strummed the air as though they'd always been familiar with the movement of the sarod. It seems almost impossible to believe that this music did not always exist. That someone actually crafted the instrument and divined the ragas. Because why else would my body, mind and soul recognise and sway along with it as though re-igniting a friendship forged through the ages? The trees maintained an unearthly stillness, even in the cajoling breeze. Even the light of the setting sun seemed muted, as though paying homage to the magnificence of the sarod and the tabla. And I felt timeless. Ageless. Care-less. For once, everything made sense. Everything was perfect. Nothing was amiss. The ever nagging doubts and fears at the back of my mind lay subdued. And nothing could have convinced me that the feeling wouldn't last. I'm convinced afresh now as I write, with Amjad Ali Khan infusing magic into my ears. What is time after all but the space between two strums of a sarod or a sitar? Eternity lives on, in the endless alchemy of a single note of music.