Thodi si meethi hai

Zara si mirchi hai

Sau gram Zindagi

Sambhal ke kharchi hai

Ma would listen to this song on the radio with an uncanny affection. Something about it would always make me uncomfortable, but most of all, the way she related to it, and the way she hummed it, with joy. As if she was dedicating it to herself. I could never understand how something so clearly miserable could bring a smile to someone’s face, how someone could even celebrate such melancholia. I could see, somehow, how she saw herself in it, and it made me restless.

Khari hai, khoti hai

Rone ko Chhoti hai

The thing about pain, or turmoil is, if you prolong it enough, it turns to poignance. It’s a satire, a delicate piece of art, a paradox; like Wabi-Sabi China, with its gilded crevices. It’s a battle wound, which never heals, it’s a medal of honor, for surviving and continuing to survive yet. Most of all, it’s an ache that never leaves your side. So you smile back, take it in your arms, and make it a part of you. You celebrate it.

The piano solo, the gentle hum, everything reeks of sorrow, of a misery that has carried on for far too long to be a stranger. It’s a cry, a wail, one that accepts and embraces the tribulation that life is: it’s a cup of coffee simmered a bit too long, a bit too bitter to digest. It never reduces the grand anguish that it brings to plaster it in synthetic pastels of joy and spirit. It accepts the agony. But it doesn’t lament it. It gives the pain a giant hug, it chuckles to it, it celebrates it. Because that’s what makes life so precious to grieve over, to spend frugally.

Asli hai, jhoothi hai

Khaalis hai, Farzi hai

Whenever the going gets too tough, for a little too long, the melody comes back to me, like the ghost of a smile through tears. To remind me of the curious contradiction of polar opposites that life is…Of strife that’s eternal, of a journey still too valuable, of tears meant to cherish…Of the fact that life goes on, and you learn to live with what has pained you. And now, I understand ma a little better.


By: Aadya Sharma