When I was volunteering in Jodhpur, India, I learned that it is actually possible to feel fear from a song. You know, the usual signs: elevated heart-rate, sweaty palms, a storm of chaos in the brain…
To this day, approximately one year and three months after hearing it, my shoulders still hunch and my eyes still dart about in mild panic when I think that there’s even the possibility of hearing that song say, at Indian parties or celebrations.
I couldn’t tell you the name of the song, let alone the artist. In fact, I can’t even remember the actual melody – just that it began with the sound of birds (I reckon peacocks) screeching and yelling their way in pain or pleasure for about two minutes before the tune kicked in.
I fear this song because I heard it every hour on the hour for three days straight, oftentimes twice in a row, on some occasions a lot more. It was 4.30am when it was played back-to-back five times on approximately seven amps stationed in the courtyard just outside of my room. 4.30 in the bloody morning! You know, that twilight time when people are hoping to get some decent sleep so they can get up and volunteer the next day!? Yeah.
The song was enjoyable on the first day of the three day wedding celebrations, and even though it began to irk me when I heard it for the seventh time, I understand that sometimes you just love a song so much you can’t let it go (case in point – I listen to Busta Rhymes’ Fire It Up at least once a day), and so with this understanding in place, I continued to get horrendously drunk, dance and enjoy myself with all the Indian grandmas partying it up.
By day two, the song was annoying but bearable – until that 4.30am special, however. After that, the fear kicked in and I began to associate the song with the inability to sleep and relax, meaning that on the third and final day of the celebrations, I was a mess, filled with tension and almost physically covering my ears with my palms when I heard it. As a remedy, I remember piling my plate and glass high with the best food and drink I’ve ever had, continuously going back for refills of rum, naan and rasmalai to try and ignore what was being belted out around me.
After the finale of the wedding, I was determined to never hear that song again, and for a while I was successful. …until I heard it two weeks later at another wedding in Udaipur!