At the time I heard that news this morning, I had, just then, commenced my writing. There, a lady newscaster was reading, “As today marks the first death anniversary of SPB, his devotees are paying tribute to the legendary singer.”
“What? Is SPB dead? Just the day before yesterday, you heard him singing with S. Janaki. You haven’t relished his voice these two days just because you have been toiling in your house. If you had even gone to its terrace, you would surely have listened to any of his songs, for you have numerous music lovers as your neighbours. But why is it that these people are saying he is dead?” said my illiterate heart.
Shortly after that, my graduate brain fought with it and reminded me of his demise. Howbeit, it took twenty seconds for my heart to digest the fact that he was dead. But is drawing last breath a death indeed? No, it is not, especially for this artist.
I must have been three when I heard the song “Megangal Ennai Thottu” on a moving bus. At that time, I didn’t even understand that this was his voice, nor did I comprehend the song’s lyrics. Albeit, my heart was sanitised by his voice, I felt.
My house didn’t even have a landline then. Yet, I yearned to listen to this song once again. I had only two options. I should wait for this song to be played on the radio we had then, or I should get sick so that I could go to the hospital by bus again. Though these were not possible, my childhood heart said everything was feasible. Only after a few-year wait did I earn the chance to hear the song as I thought. But by then, my days had already been filled with the voice of this man.
And in a short space of time, I came to know that his name was S. P. Balasubrahmanyam. As years flew by, we bought a black-and-white television. Not even my single day could pass without hearing the voice of this singer from then on.
This man was the main reason for my listening skills to be extensively enhanced in my childhood. And once I evolved into an adult, I ascertained that he was not only an artist but also an activist.
You may think that activists are the ones who usually take to the streets. But I think not. Some may protest, while others may write, and some may shout, while others may sing. The tools and styles people use may differ, but any act that causes a social or political change can be termed activism.
‘A man can cry to express his emotion’ is what we now call a feministic notion. But this man has rendered his lachrymose voice even before we are born.
For instance, listen to his ‘Vaanuyarntha Solaiyile‘, ‘Poguthae Poguthae‘, ‘Tere Mere Beech Mein‘ or ‘Nanna Jeeva Neenu‘ to taste his tears! Listen to his ‘Thanga Thamarai Magalae‘ to learn how to express your desires! And at last, listen to his ‘Aanenna Pennenna‘ to understand how to remain unbiased! These are very few hits from his long list of songs. Likewise, he has given life to the letters of a lot of lyricists.
In the life of an Indian, no dusk can turn into dawn without listening to this man’s songs. He has mutated his art into our emotions. Now, it’s time for me to ask a question! If we can acknowledge Subramania Bharati, the one who transformed his emotions into art, as an activist, why can’t we accept Balasubrahmanyam, the one who transmuted art into our emotions, as an activist?
This article was written the day before yesterday but has been published today.