Gramophone

It’s never the end.

Amar loves Jazz. He can relate to it.

Rhapsody of pain covered in layers of sweet music. It’s perfect.

The happiness in it is a façade. The real meaning is something else. Something only a person who looks for it can find. And he needs to look far beyond the words in the lyrics and deep within the corners of his heart.

Amar’s whole life has been a tragedy but only he knows that. He puts on a smile for the people outside the four walls of his dimly lit house. He never gave them a chance to look deep. His pain was his own.

He is proud of his vinyl collection. A vinyl collection with no gramophone to play them. He spent five months collecting the digital copies of all the songs on those vinyl recordings. Still, he missed the monophonic sound of a gramophone. No digital format can replace that. He can just close his eyes and stay there in that bubble, right from the sound of static when the pin drops on the vinyl till the mechanical pop in the end. The last time he ever heard a gramophone was 20 years ago. His grandfather had one and he used to play music for Amar when he visited. Ever since, Amar had always wanted a gramophone. He searched towns, cities and even countries but in vain. Vinyl piled up but the gramophone never came. And then at one point, Amar grew up. Life, as he knew it, changed. Suddenly there was an increased concentration of pain and loss. He found comfort in shiny, brown alcoholic liquids and tobacco. Before he knew it, his left lung was fried. Cancer was eating him up. There was nothing much left to do so he strengthened his search.

Pain would shoot up in his chest and he would grab on to music for support. But still the pain took over.

He needed something. Something he might never find. And that was eating him up. That, and the pain.

Amar was not religious. Spiritual, maybe. His mind never really understood the concept of religion, deities, different scriptures that had the same messages to convey and why people thought their book was bigger and better. He believed in some power. A power which he believed had the answers to everything. He never believed that power was capable of miracles. Maybe we all do. That is why when something strange happens it’s always unexpected. We fail to notice that our heart would ache so much for something and from somewhere that power would bring us close to that. We call it science, faith, god…so many names. So, when the door bell rang one day, Amar just opened. He wasn’t expecting something big.

Outside the door stood a fakir. He looked strange not by his facial features but because of what he was wearing. He was dressed like a Muslim, but with a Christian rosary around his neck and a pinch of holy ash on his forehead.

Mad man, Amar judged him in one look because he did not have a religion. Or maybe he had too many. The man just stood there with a smile so familiar Amar forgot when and where he had seen it before. Then the fakir looked down and Amar followed his gaze. There was a neatly packed cardboard box from a courier service with his name on a piece of paper, printed and stuck on one edge, sitting there on the verandah.

‘Courier? For me?’, Amar asked. The man smiled and nodded. ‘Okay. Do I have to sign somewhere?’, he asked suspicious about the man’s peculiar way of answering to a customer. ‘No. You just take it. It has your name on it. You don’t need to sign anywhere. I know it’s you’, the man said. As Amar stared at him the man turns and walks away. A voice rose in Amar’s throat to call him back but it died there. He stands there for a while before taking the package and walking back inside. The package was heavy. And huge. There was no proper address on it. Just his name. He was slow and careful while opening it. I should call the courier service and talk to them, Amar thought as he cut through the cellophane packaging around the box, ‘they can’t be this sloppy with deliveries’. But the moment he opened the box and looked inside, he knew that wouldn’t be necessary. He knew the courier service wouldn’t know about this courier or the man who delivered it. Inside the box was an old gramophone, it’s pavilion looking up like a golden flower. Amar could feel the pain easing up inside him. He wasn’t even trying this time. As he stood there, with a tint of disbelief in his smile, he tried to remember the fakir’s face. Such a strange man. Why didn’t Amar think too deep about him when he saw him? Where did he come from? Why did he look like that? Amar knew the answers deep down but he still kept questioning himself.

And the way that man spoke. ‘Just take it. I know it’s you’. There was clarity in his vagueness.

Just like Jazz.

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