WORK OF ART: A song by Ilaiyaraaja

By Sudarshan Varadhan

Photographer: Dave Meier

A man is in love with a blind woman. He is unhappy about her not being able to see the world he enjoys. He gets emotional, and blindfolds himself, and invokes a myth that involved a woman ceasing to see as her husband couldn’t.

The blind woman, touched with the sentiment but angry with the lack of logic, dismisses the act as stupid, only to add that she’d like to explore the world through his eyes.

The man, happy but as if taken aback at the same time by his challenging new responsibility, breaks into a song describing colours – discerning them being the most basic joy of being gifted with eyesight.

“Which colour represents the caressing breeze as it waltzes around you, which colour does your heart feel as the sun warms your body?”

She is clueless still, as he happily introspects on his beautiful world, and hopelessly searches for the bridge connecting her world with his. He finds it, and sings, “colours come and go, like feelings, and they change according to intent, like feelings do.”

In those two lines, he finds the bridge, crosses over and renders it pointless. As long as you feel, you are human, he says, and you and I are the same, and live in the same world, he implies.

“This is the truth, this is what I see, my dear,” he sings, in a note lower than that of the last two lines, and higher than the first two, musically describing equilibrium and co-existence.

This song, sung and composed by Ilaiyaraaja, was written by Vaali. The lyrics are pure genius, but at least they could be described.

The music is something else, and only Ilaiyaraaja can make you feel it. No amount of words or any other human communication can help you feel it. That way, all of us will forever be lesser mortals.

So here, presenting Thendral Vandhu theendum bodhu


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