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Last Tuesday, when my roommate came and told me that the cab was waiting, all I could manage was a “I’m not well, I can’t even open my eyes. I’ll give you a call later.” When I woke up again a few hours later, I was feeling much better. Tired of lying down on the bed, I dragged myself to the living room and plonked myself on the sofa. Usually, when I’m home on a weekday, the choicest of bad movies play on TV.

Cursing my luck, I was channel surfing and came across a movie called “Music of the Heart.” It seemed interesting enough even though half the movie was over. I decided to watch a coupla more minutes of the movie before declaring my verdict. Half an hour later, when the movie got over, I was sitting on my couch and there were tears flowing from my eyes. Tears were pouring like the dam had broken. There was no one else at home and I was not bothered about anything. I gave up trying to wipe my face.

Music of the Heart is the true story of a violin teacher (Meryl Streep) trying to save a violin program in a small school that was cancelled due to lack of funds. After 10 years of teaching these children, she refuses to accept defeat and decides to reinstate the program by raising funds for it themselves. She children end up performing in the Carnegie Hall and the violin program continues. The reason this movie moved me to tears is because of my school.

It my first day in a new school. I was a little scared because I knew no one around me. But excitement overtook the fear. I had already heard a lot about the school’s choir. I wanted to be a part of it. Luckily for me, they were taking in some new voices that year. I went for the auditions and got selected! I was overjoyed. But I had not the slightest idea about how “Anjali” (the name of our choir) was going to change my life. When I was in X std, we qualifies for a national level competition that was to take place at Indore. We were a team of 20 girls in classes VII-XI. It was a very prestigious competition and we wanted to crack it one way or the other. Unfortunately we had almost no support from our school.

This meant no practise during school hours. We could not miss classes. The teachers would fly off the handle if we did so much as to mention ‘choir practice.’ We ended up staying back in school everday atleast till 5.30. I would rush back home and sit down to do the pile of homework and the if possible do some cramming. We had to also think about costumes as visual medium always made a big impact on stage. The school was not paying for our tickets, we were. So we didn’t want to ask our parents for more money. Though most of the parents were willing to pay for the costumes, we didnt’ think it was right. There had to be another way out. Then we thought of collecting sponsorship from corporates. But who would give us any money when we could not put up their banners or stalls anywhere! In the end, we did collect the moeny that was necessary for our costumes. Since I was in the X std, I was missing a whole week of cycle test because of the travel to Indore. My principle was willing to let me go only on one condition. I was to come back and write 2 cycle tests everyday when the rest of my class was writing only one. I thought I was going to die. But I had no choice but to agree to her conditions. Am I complaining?

Absolutely not. Those are amongst the most memorable days of my life. It was so cold in Indore that we all huddled together every evening and drank tea at the road side tea shop. We used walk along the streets singing loud tamil songs. But most importantly, we went, we sang, we conquered. Even if we had lost, I would’ve felt the same way about the whole journey. The joy of music and the pleasure of singing can not be described. The adrenaline rush when you get on stage and hear the guitar strumming, knowing that it is your que to start, is the biggest high. When you finish, the audience appreciation and when you walk down from the stage, people walking up to you to tell you how well you sang makes you feel like nothing in life is unattainable. Music taught me the will to go after anything with grit and determination. The person who taught me this music taught me the meaning of dedication, hard work and love for music. At times, when we thought we had reached a dead end and that there was no path, this man’s undeterred focus and faith in us gave us the strength and the enthusiasm to go on. He stood by us when we needed him the most.

When we all came back to Madras, we were better singer, better students and most of all, better individuals.

PS: Happy birthday sir!

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