Would you believe that part of my life I grew up witnessing a musical? Especially one that taught me invaluable lessons/ skills, coping mechanisms, self-help, visualization etc.?? If you are thinking the “Lion King” or the “Phantom of the Opera”, you are so off-base. Mine was even better. Better only because I was a privileged audience member of “one” for the initial years and later joined by my siblings.
The musical experiences started when I was about 14 years old, when our family moved to this quaint small town in South India. My siblings and I, our parents and our grand-father, all slept in one rather large room. This room was special because it had a high-speed fan which meant better breeze during the hot blazing summers. So, every night we go to bed which was a line of area rugs/mats/mattresses and blankets with pillows on the floor. This was quite the norm for many households back in the 80’s and 90’s in India.
Okay…Drum roll Please…. and Here goes the musical. As the curtain rises, my dad would kick start his performance AKA the SNORING!! Mom and Grandpa would very soon follow suit with their performances!
Dad’s snoring was deep throated and his sounds were like the growling of a hungry lion cub. It was a long “Grrrrrrrr…..pause….pause…Grrrrrr”. Each “Grrrrrrrr” was really long that it would pass through your ears and reach the deep trenches of your gut! Mom’s snoring sounds were like short quick whiffs of air, using her mouth…pooff…pooff..,PAUSE pooff…pooff” and on it goes again. It was like a puppy’s bark – except, it wasn’t that cute!
Grandpa usually played a double role. His snoring was mostly a very low pitched, meek “hmnnn” which, when you listen very carefully, could be interpreted as “hmm..noooooo…. PAUSE hmm noooooo”. His other responsibility was the swatting of mosquitos.
In the first weeks, I would literally run to bed first and try to sleep before the musical started. As I would slowly drift into sleep, Dad would start his “hungry lion cub Grrrrrr” and mom started her “not so cute puppy bark pooff pooff” and grandpa his “hmmmm. Noooooo”. It used to be quite a grand opening. What’s a musical without special effects? Of course, there was the added Vibrato effect!! Sad and unfortunate thing was, there never was any harmony between their snores. I tried really hard to find a rhythm and failed miserably. After a few hours of tossing and turning, I would doze off a bit AND WHAM, a BIG slapping sound. Heebedee Jeebies!!!
Remember, Grandpa’s second role of swatting mosquitos? He would literally slap his own legs/hands/body to swat a mosquito with his bare hands! Believe me, for a long time I thought that it wasn’t mosquitos that tried to bite gramps. It was probably a scorned huge spider or scorpion that wanted serious revenge. Maybe that’s why he slapped it so hard and loud?.
Oh! Did I mention I called this musical “The Three Mosquiteers”!!?!??
So, to keep myself entertained during this orchestra, I would have fantasy conversations with the gods of snoring, thanking them for their generous blessings toward my family. I made deals that I would offer my siblings as a sacrifice in return for the gods to take away my parents snoring. Some nights, I would visualize winning the Nobel Prize for creating a remote device which could control the snoring noise levels!
One particular night, with the musical in full swing, I got up to go to the bathroom and accidentally stepped on my sister’s feet and she squealed in pain. In that instant, suddenly, the musical stopped and there was this eerie and absolute silence. I stood in fear expecting to get an earful from one of my parents. For a few minutes, I stood still, faced with the question – Should I still go to bathroom or use this silence to go back to sleep?? Well, even before the answer came to my mind, the orchestra resumed gloriously.
Anyways, I mustered up the courage to tip toe out of the room. Oh boy! Glad, glad, glad I was, because I experienced something for the first time in full awareness. It was about 4 am and I opened one of the windows.
There it was, an early morning in this beautiful small town waiting to be experienced. It had just rained, semi-dark, the air was pure, the post rain smell of the soil, the clean, crisp breeze with a gentle mist, fragrance of morning blooms, our cows were waking up, moving around stretching and the warm aroma of wood burning in a boiler from the tea shop in the street corner. All my senses were awake.
Other than the feeling that it was a memorable experience, I didn’t realize until a decade later that this would become my most nostalgic, happy moment. I can never forget those few minutes and it has remained as my go-to happy moment. It gave me a glimpse of what it means to losing and finding at the same time. The smell of soil after rain till this day stirs up memories of that moment. Years later, I came to know that “Petrachor” is the word that refers to the smell of soil after rains.
Isn’t nature’s musical always ON and ALL we have to do is take a time out to just tune in?
Here’s a suggestion – Identify your happy moment or happy place in life and label the moment with a rarely used or unique word. Whenever you feel a need to align or anchor yourself, let the word remind you to tune in to your happy place. Just a a few minutes of time out a day can help us tune into that joyful, hopeful place.
Petrachor – is my happy word. It reminds me to take the time to tune into nature and let the moment capture me.
So, what’s your happy word?
Disclaimer: My parents and siblings are lovely people and I love them with all my