Sixteen and dead, well almost dead! 

“Do you remember that one time man?????”, my friend started off in a very enthusiastic tone. The setup was pretty surreal. There we were. On the stage. I was wielding my trusty old beaten six string of a wannabe fender. It was a knockoff of a knockoff. It was the unholy child of a Yamaha and a Fender Stratocaster. It was one of the cheapest guitar that I had ever bought. It was the guitar that which I enjoyed playing the most. True to form, it had built character as I was busy building mine. I was a proud owner at that point in time. 

The stage was set, IIT madras. The audio output was pretty shabby. We paused our song halfway through. We refused to play any further. We refused to step out of the stage. For a while, we held that stage hostage to our temper tantrums. We were the bad punks and we took ourselves extremely seriously.We were forced to exit the stage, but that day we had managed to achieve a dream. We got scouted by a talent hunter. We stood at the cusp of getting recognized and our music stood to get represented. 

We walked away from it over a dogmatic illusion of principles

Given what I’ve learnt over the years, given the wasted shot at glory, given the direction that life took us from that day on, I’d still not change a thing.

Sixteen years later, yesterday, a few of our band members caught up. We had our very first guitarist with us. I was a drummer back then. As we cruised that road of nostalgia, I couldn’t help but wonder how far I’ve drifted away from what used to be me. For starters, I had traded off pints in exchange for Orange juice. I got trolled over the choice! I’m used to it now. Fruit juices nonetheless. Music serves the reminder of the kicks that went missing. 

Somewhere along the road, I had given up being a speed demon. I had given up being reckless. I had given up a lot of rage that built a persona of a frontman with a devil don’t care attitude. None of it was fake when it lasted. I was all of that with all my heart. I believed in that cause. I believed in what I represented. Yesterday, I believe I smiled at the kid who was a clueless visionary of sorts! 

These days, I’m told that I’m soft spoken a lot of times. I had never realized that. All the years of screaming my lungs out made things hard to accept that I was no longer vociferous and challenged to the ways of mellow decibel levels. It came as a surprise to me. Somewhere down the line, I think I graciously accepted what I had become. 

From trigger happy and on a perpetual short fuse to a bloke who chooses to think a few steps ahead before acting, I sure sat amused at what I had become. I must admit, I now aspire to compose orchestral melodies rather than riffs that would send the head-bangers to their head banging heaven. 

The evening was not just about me. I saw a responsible dad in my oldest friend. I saw a caring husband in my other bud. Our adolescence started on a note to make it loud , bad and against a world that we couldn’t accept. Today we were men, accustomed to the ways of the world of our making. We smiled and passed condescending judgement on how it’s way too easy for young budding musicians today. They start their garage band with the best set of gig (instruments) that daddy’s money can buy. They are masters of their learnt lessons. They play to near perfection and some(read as many) follow the way of established structures to make their sounds seem commercial and pleasing to the ears. 

Strangely that did bother us a little. I think its because we are jealous of their talent. We were never as good as the new kids are today. We know that. Yes, it does hurt at times. 

We soon grew up to be the men that we were. Of politics and careers, our conversations drifted towards the realities of our days. Yeah, to each their own and we all do fight our diverse battles everyday. We are all in pursuit of bills to pay, houses to buy, lands to explore and a life to lead. Perfect and we execute our role to that perfection. 

Along the line, the realization dawned. We were all sitting on money with a little time to spare to indulge in dreams that once kept us away from comforts of sleep and sanity. We had all made our choice. We had all accepted our fate. It was only during these few hours of playing catch up, did we realize that we once had dreams.

Not all was bad and grim. I did sign the evening off with a very happy heart. I took pride in the fact that I’m still connected to music. Not the way the 18 year old Karthik would have approved. It’s all the same to me now. Blissful music that stirs the emotions and helps me connect with myself in that road of self discovery. We are what we choose to be and that thought , that belief, found an assurance last evening. 

Am I alive today to the eyes of that 18 year old kid that I was? Was that kid living it all , the mind of a 33 year old wonders today? I guess we both just lived our lives the way we saw it fit. We still continue to live that life of doing what we please. We still don’t find that heart to live on excuses. If something’s changed, I guess it’s along the lines of what we aspire now and how we view ourselves today.



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