Mohan cringed when he heard the giggling of girls. His sister Dharini was forever bringing friends home from college. ‘Do they study at all’, he thought. But then there was silence and after that he heard a melodious voice singing, ‘Gaata rahe mera dil…tu hi meri manzil’ and he prepped up. It was the song from the newly released ‘Guide’ and he sat in rapt attention. He loved music whether it be film songs or classical. The singer sang the entire song and then there was silence after that and once again the chatter started.
He moved towards the voices but he met his mother on the way. ‘Where are you going, Mohan?’, she asked and he returned to his room. Those days boys and girls were not allowed to mingle. But he hovered near the main door, in hope to meet the girls but no it seems they had no mood to go home so early and he had to leave for office.
‘Seems you had a nice time in the morning’, he asked his sister in the evening, ‘no studies eh’.
‘We had holiday today so we thought of having a get together and had a good time. Shyamla, sang, Mridula danced and my… we gossiped so much. Shanta even taught me a new stitch’, she said in ecstasy.
‘So her name is Shyamla’, he thought to himself. Dharini had just finished her matriculation and was now going to college. Though it was not yet fashionable for girls to go to college, there were a few progressive families who did send their daughters to college.
And so Mohan who had lost his heart to the one with the melodious voice aka Shyamla, tried to see her and talk to her but alas talk he could not. The girls would seldom be unchaperoned and he could never ever talk.
Mohan by then was already 25 having a good job and his parents wanted him to get married. And though a number of good alliances came up he always managed to give some excuse for not marrying the girl in question.
‘She is taller than me’, or ‘she has just completed her 7th’ or ‘her voice is not good’, were the excuses he gave.
Until in exasperation his father yelled, ‘Do you want to marry or not?’
‘Yes I do want to marry to… Shyamla’, was all that he said.
There was a shocked silence and then his father asked, ‘Who is this Shyamla?’
Hi mother coming out of her reverie mumbled something in his ear.
‘You fool,……..you fool, you found no other girl’, was all that he had to say.
Later he came to know that Shyamla was the illegitimate daughter of the minister of the erstwhile King. Shyamla’s mother Leela used to live in Mandya and Chandrasekhar who was one of the minister at King Wodeyar of Mysore used to frequent Mandya. It so happened that Leela’s father had some business dealings with Chandrasekhar and during those meetings Chandra and Leela first met and then had a relationship.
Chandra was already married.
When Leela got pregnant she was thrown out of the house and she came in search of Chandra. Chandra could not marry her but gave her a place to stay and looked after her needs.
Leela and her daughter were ostracized by the whole society but Shyamla was a bright kid and her mother herself taught her classical music. Her mother saw to it that Shyamla had a good education for she knew that getting her married was a distant dream and education would be the first step to see her independent.
Mohan grew morose. It was not Shyamla’s fault that she was illegitimate. She was good-looking, she had a good voice and had a good education, did anything else matter?
Shyamla was banned from their home and Mohan was sure that if he knew Dharini well, she would have stopped talking to Shyamla and even seen that others too didn’t speak to her.
He had to speak to her but how. He took the help of the music teacher at college Mr. Kartikeyan. When Mr. Kartik heard Mohan, his sincerity won him. Also Shyamla was his star student whom he wanted to see happy and he felt that Mohan was the right person for her. As such there was no hope of Shyamla ever getting married.
So in the pretext of some extra practice he called her to his chambers at an odd time. Shyamla came to find an unknown man. Mohan introduced himself. Shyamla thinking that more troubles would befall her, started moving towards the door.
‘I like you a lot Shyamla’, pleaded Mohan.
‘What do you know about me to like me’, she asked.
‘I have heard you sing’, he said.
‘Is it enough to lead a life together’, she asked.
‘Music can unite nations then why not two hearts’, was his reply.
‘And how will you convince your family’, she said.
‘They will have to’, he said.
‘I do not want to be the reason for a family to break’, she said.
Kartik Sir who was hovering just outside thought enough was enough and came in.
‘Why are you stopping happiness to enter your life, Shyamla’, he said. The matter was sealed between the two. They would unite but not yet.
Leela liked the young man and called upon Chandrasekhar too to meet him once.
Mohan took up another job at Bellary. There was a huge uproar at home and everyone blamed Shyamla. ‘I am going because I am getting better opportunities at Bellary. And for your information I will marry only Shyamla and no one else and that too with your blessings’.
Both waited five long years. By that time Shyamla was teaching music at one of the schools and Mohan was earning well. Dharini had already been married off. Seeing that Mohan was adamant and would not marry anyone but his nightingale, the parents finally relented.
They were finally married in a low-key ceremony and Kartik Sir gave away the bride. Chandrasekhar was not allowed by his wife to do the honors.
And so Mohan and his Shyamla started their musical journey together. Mornings began with Venkatesh Suprabhath and nights very soon spent singing lullabies