The arena was throbbing with anticipation.
Smoke, smell of alcohol, sweat, the collective hum of several hundred fans, crazy stage lights – it was surreal.
Busy event management folks were running about, talking into their mouthpieces, trying to get the last minute preparations done.
Teenaged girls in the crowd were growing restless now, some of them holding up signs that proclaimed their ‘love’ for Srijit and his bandmates. “Marry me, Enos!” – said one sign, openly sending out matrimonial proposals to the bassist. Some of them were making “metal horns” with their fingers, others headbanging to the beats of the filler music.
Up on stage, Srijit, Enos, Probir, Mainak, and Suraj were in a world of their own, oblivious to the antics of the crowd, or to the atmosphere that had already built up. They were nervous, excited, confident, and in the ‘beast mode’, and the andrenaline was simply kicking in.
“Srijit, don’t goof up the lyrics mate, and we wouldn’t start with ‘Lost’. That would be third on today’s list. The starting gig would be ‘Mera Aashiyaan’. It always sets up the mood”, said Probir.
Srijit nodded on, barely listening. He was in a different world altogether, playing out the performance in his head, as he had done a million times in his daydreams and wakeful nights. But this was the real thing. Their first big gig!
“Okay mates, we are ready to go. The stage is all yours”, said one of the event management guys, flashing a thumbs up, and clearing the stage.
The members took their positions with their instruments. The crowd roared in approval. Probir tested his drums with a 4/4 time signature, with the crowd going berserk, only to realize it was a false start. They saw the humour in it.
They were almost ready. A thumbs up signal from Probir and a nod from Enos was the final approval Srijit needed. Now it was SHOWTIME. . .
Srijit gently strummed his guitar and played the opening lead of “Mera Aashiyaan”, the crowd recognised the song and another collective cheer went out. Keyboard, bass, drums – all joined in, in succession.
“Mera Aashiyaan kyun kho gaya, kaha rah gaya. . . “. Srijit had started on a confident note. And the stage was set for the song.
But, suddenly he couldn’t hear his own voice. It was being replaced by a female voice, that was saying something. The voice came from a distance. The more Srijit tried to ignore the voice and complete the song, the more he was choking. Slowly the other voice was becoming clearer and louder. Clearer. Louder. He could now recognise the voice. He had known that voice for all his life. It was his mother’s voice !!!
“Oy! Wake up. You have your Math tuitions!”
This was followed by a jerk, and Srijit jolted out of his dream, the guitar lead still playing in his head, and his fingers still doing the motion.
He had been dreaming!
But it had been nice. The dream was so real. Even the smell of alcohol seemed so real!
But, now, back to real, mundane life. Distasteful real life. And just after this marvellous dream, it was time to head straight to his Math tuition classes.
“I’d rather be dead”, thought Srijit, shaking his head sadly, and started collecting his books. He had been interrupted.