One Sunday, I was out lunching with a friend. I can't remember our entire conversation. I think it was something related to food that prompted me to ask him why he loves cooking so much. And instead of answering the question, he caught me off guard by throwing a similar question back at me.
So when he asked me why I love singing so dearly, my immediate response posed a question that echoed arrogance.
"Because I'm good at it?"
"No, that's not why you love singing," he said confidently with a crooked smile.
I felt a little awkward realising I didn't have the answer to something I love so dearly. And someone else had to point that out to me.
Later in the week, as I was walking back from work, I replayed this conversation in my mind, and scouted for the answer. Why do I love singing so much? Why do I wrap up work and hurry every Thursday for choir practice? Why do I wake up early on a Sunday morning when I can catch up on some much needed sleep till noon, and go to Church in the evening instead? I love singing, no doubt. But why rang out the chorus.
The question seemed simple enough but it made me dig deep, and deeper. Singing comes naturally to me and it makes me beam with pride, not because I am in love with the sound of my own voice rather as I love the sound of my parents' voices. While my mother sang the melody, my dad would always sing the harmony. In colloquial terms, we call this other voice 'seconds'. I can sing both. So can my siblings. But singing played an instrumental role in shaping me into what I am today.
Singing sowed the seeds of confidence in me
The first time I performed on a stage, I was a nervous 7-year-old. I sang three songs at a fête in front of some 800 odd people. I was tense, but I didn't stop performing. I worked on honing my craft. I learnt how to hold a microphone. I learnt how to look at the audience. I learnt how to express my emotions through music. I came to love the sound of any instrument. I loved how it made my voice sound rich. And as I grew up, the confidence grew with me. I owe it to my first performance, I'd like to believe.
Singing encouraged me to lead
I was 10 years old when my father passed away. I found comfort in singing. It was my escape from reality. Around the same time, our choir master in Goa took ill, and was admitted to a hospital. He asked me if I could lead the congregation into singing at daily mass. Well, it didn't seem like a task as we used to go to Church every day. The only difference was, I had to attend two masses instead of one. Along with confidence, grew within me a leader I didn't know existed.
And it also taught me humility and the art of appreciation
I take pride in my voice. When I moved to Mumbai, seven years ago, I missed singing the most. I had to resign from a professional choir in Goa and enrol into a regular church choir in Mumbai. Later, I joined The Newman Choir. I heard voices that mine didn't match up to. Singing with these people caught me by awe. I started appreciating singing in a whole new way. I learnt to take a step back from the microphone. I also learnt what was on the other side of vanity and overconfidence.
Singing brought me an early taste of financial independence
I was 11 when I earned my first buck from singing. A lady walked up to me and handed me two notes of rupees hundred, and thanked me. I was just singing, and it happened to be her husband's death anniversary mass. Over the years, I sang at weddings, parties, and funerals too as part of a professional choir. I saved up a tidy amount when I was still a 17-year-old.
Singing gifted me more friends
The more I sang, the more people I met. Some, I will keep for life. I've mostly been a part of choirs -- big, small and really small too (four-member-choir). Since I live in a hostel, they often pamper me with home-cooked food or even surprise me by baking a cake on my birthday. Well, at times, it's being more than just singers. We become friends.
Singing picks up my spirits whenever I am down
Recently, I had a rough day at work and my colleagues decided to go out for a drink. I chose to go singing instead. No matter what goes wrong, there have been times when I've been unsure about myself or where I'm heading. At such times, I chose to hold on to this one talent.
Singing gave me a great sense of accomplishment
As a child, I participated in singing competitions. Whether I won or lost, I loved what I did, so it rarely mattered. At least I knew I gave it my best.
Singing also gave me an essential lesson on love
Only when I detached myself from singing, did I learn how much I missed it. And above all, how much I really love singing.
I currently sing with one of the oldest choirs in Mumbai. And when I say old, I mean it. This choir is over 100 years old with a strength of close to 50 members including students, working professionals, parents, and even grandparents. I jumped at the chance to join St. Joseph's Choral Society because I wasn't ready to write an obituary on my singing. I wanted to learn more. Singing is a huge part of my life's journey. And since I've learnt so much just singing, I am sure there's more to this enduring love story.