Other Doors
Published in

Other Doors

On Music: Melody and Lyrics

The Power to Heal

Jimmer and Juhi, yukking it up after one of his shows in 2014, 3 months after coma. I’m wayyy shorter than Jimmer, he’s just being gentlemanly.

Excerpts from The Soundtrack of My Life, the book it is still too painfully early to finish writing, as I found out when writing this essay for Other Doors.

Unknowingly, music had a big part in my life and the stringing together of memories otherwise too painful for my primary consciousness to track. These last few years I have had to untangle the memories from the music and judge the music I listened to on its own merits, especially the earliest songs from older Hindi films before the industry was known as Bollywood. Although I have great!big!!gaps!!! in my memory of the life I have apparently lived, I never ever forget lyrics to songs. Saying my taste is eclectic does not do justice to the word eclectic or to the word taste…I listened to whatever was available in both my primary languages, English and Hindi. I have included the piece I wrote about my multiple voices at the end of this essay which includes the music that became a part of my internal metronome.

I moved to the cul-de-sac on the Westside 13 years ago, and found the most blessed neighbors living next door: Jimmer and Jacy Bolden. This was before they had the divine Ms. J who came into their lives and transformed it. Through all the trials and tribulations they were going through themselves, I learned to count on Jimmer serenading me on my Birthday from across our combined lawns. Literally. He could stand at his front door, and sing in his mighty voice to me on birthday mornings. I would hear him from inside my house and come out in my nightie, laughing and clapping until he was done. They have watched me take my first terrified steps into remembering my childhood, and my first tentative steps to getting a divorce at almost 60. The love between the two of them (and for their daughter) has given me hope that love and laughter and music can come back into one’s life. They continue to be the most loving and supportive friends, and part of my chosen family.

I have watched Jimmer perform in the most wonderful stage productions these last years, from playing Deuteronomy in Cats to the voice of Audrey 2 in Little Shop of Horrors, from Ragtime: the Musical to Visionary Man. Last week Jimmer was one of the featured solo performers with the Angel City Chorale in America’s Got Talent Semifinals…they got the golden buzzer from guest judge Olivia Munn! I listened to Jimmer’s cds until recently when cds became retro on most devices. Did i say I love this voice, this man, this family?

At my all girls Catholic School in a city long long ago in a century far far away there were only two musical instruments: a tambourine and a triangle. In my first year there in first grade, two post-toddlers were given these instruments. The tambourine was swiftly revoked from the soloist it was assigned to for reckless endangerment of her classmates with her penchant for playing with gay abandon. I received the triangle, which I played like a virtuoso, keeping time with the one-two beat of all first grade songs. Thank goddess I was not expected to play in accompaniment to the hymns we were taught to sing every morning assembly, every lunch break, every end of school-day. Abide With Me and The Lord’s Prayer would have been akin to jazz in my six year old hands!

My end-of-year report card read Sings sweetly, talks too much.
Still true to this day.

Juhi between the ages of 2 and 3. Music you say? I’m dancing, baby! Kathak then, hip hop next…very slow hip hop, but still.

2014: At the hospital, in and out of my coma, my gate keepers and caretakers (my children) played music for me when I was able to communicate via charades what I wanted to hear in spite of my intubation. This song was a particular favorite, because the lyrics made me believe it was okay for me to more-than-barely-survive, that I had a right to joy and to be alive. Also, the playlist was on YouTube, and this actor is pretty easy on the eyes.

Badtameez Dil, a song that kept me alive for 3 months in 2014, played on a loop for hours at a time. I’m sure the nursing staff got sick of it eventually, but they all learned to dance to it! I have heard that I danced to it on top of my hospital bed after the initial cardiac surgery but before the coma, with all my IV’s hanging off my arms. I would have loved to have seen that! Or remember it, but you know…that whole coma thing…so no memories of the entire stay.

and when I was down for the count with the most terrible-horrible-no good-very-bad-infection-that-was-going/to/take/me/down they wrote me messages Come on Juhi K. Mansi kick, those germies buttttsss! Use Annie Lennox for inspiration! and played songs to bring me back, the lyrics of which had meaningful messages, hidden from all those who chose not to hear them.

The Eurythmics & Aretha Franklin — Sisters are Doin’ it for Themselves Missionary Man. George Michael — Faith . H.R. Bachchan’s Madhushala.

JkM, first day of rehab, two weeks post coma, still hallucinating, grateful first day out in the Sun after 2 plus months in the hospital. I was singing a Bhajan under my breath when this picture was taken. Music and the will to live.

Music holds tremendous power over our emotions, and can hold enormous triggers as well. There will be other posts that I will be able to share cataloging other times in my life and the part music has played in it, but today this is all my heart can hold.
Go sing and dance and celebrate Life, for no one is promised tomorrow.

As with all the other creatives and activists in my tribe, Jimmer and Jacy’s energy keeping Juhi alive! ❤

©JkMansi Juhi Kalra 2018. All rights reserved.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Jk Mansi

Jk Mansi


To know where you're going find out where you've been. I strive to be joyful. I read. I write. I’m grateful.