Our debut track Awaz is a unique amalgamation of electronica instrumentation and Indian classical vocals. While the experiment has found favour with many, the abstract nature of the lyrics has prompted queries about its meaning. Consequently, we got the lyricist and our friend Manjunath Sigi to break it down and explain what’s written between the lines. Here’s what he said:
I hate doing this yet I am doing it. And this is for my friends—they asked for it—as also motivated by a writer’s terrible urge. Most have this urge, barring a few made of different metal, that their work be understood by their readers. My wish is not that the listeners of Awaz hit bang-on on what I intended. Such a wish will be nothing but criminal and will murder the plurality of the text. And more than that, it will also be impossible to exactly figure out what I intended, for there will always will be a gap between me and the reader. This gap itself will breed love. I know I am being vague but this is the way life is. And even if the author explains what the lyrics actually mean, it will actually mean what it means to me today; as the ‘original meaning’, if there is one, is lost when I first put it on paper. You know what I am intending. (Pardon me, one can never know what the other person is actually intending, but just to put forth the contingent meaning.) I am talking about the gap between what I thought and what I wrote. I am aware I’m getting trapped in a circle here. When one becomes aware of this trap, a song like Awaz germinates. Read on for a line-by-line insight into the song.
Awaz zindagi ki na chhode nishaan: The song of life does not leave any trace, does it? What do you think. My view is that it does not leave any mark and even if it does, it is just a circle. We arrive at the same point from where we had started. Our every action is always treading towards the beautiful beginning. Christianity says ‘bone to bone, dust to dust’ and so does every religion, albeit in a different language. Such an example in my view is too gaudy and literal. A more subtle example one can unravel is when one looks at their everyday work. We do different work, we live different lives but one question crops up at some point or the other in ones life. That question is, “What is the meaning of life?” This question crops up precisely because life does not leave any traces and even if it does, those are just circles.
Parwaaz betuki tera ehsaan: The flight of life is absurd. It has no meaning. Here I am directly addressing life (“tera” here is “life’s”). You may ask why this sudden transition, which doesn’t continue in the next lines. It is deliberate as I did not want any pattern in the lyrics. I wanted them to be as absurd as life.
Ummeed ki naiyya jo mile kahin, yaad rakhne ki ijaazat nahi: Flatly, it means that even if life gives hope that there is a meaning to it, we are forced to forget the meaning. Our memory will deceive us. Life is a journey and the boat that steers us through the ocean of life is a metaphor for the circles I describe earlier. For a moment, we think that this “boat” is the final meaning of life. But the very next day, we realise that it was contingent and we even don’t remember the contingent meaning. Memory is one such spoilt brat on which one can never rely!
Karwatein, surmayee karwatein; Ishaare, bematlab ishaare: The first part is disjointed imageries clubbed together. Life is an eternal sleep. And in this eternal sleep, we make different moves on bed (for those blessed with one). And these moves are gray in colour. They are not flat black or white but rounded gray. They are blurred, not definite. I am reminded of the famous lines of Shakespeare (reminded of them now, not when I wrote these lines): “We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep.”
The second part carries similar meaning as “Parwaaz betuki…”
You might be thinking that I am a cynic and a bundle of hopelessness. You are wrong then. My attitude towards life will become apparent when you listen to the last two lines of the song.
Saans lene ki lat yun hi laga dete hain, zindagi tu kyun itna satrangi: Despite these circles and meaninglessness, we live our lives. Living life is an addiction. How is it so? Life is gray. It is a mixture , it is a circle and every time we reach the beginning, it is new. Something gets changed at the beginning and this drives our exploration. Hence, life is colourful.
Eliot’s this line from Four Quartets capture the essence of our song: “We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”
Please note that these are just my views and in no case the final meaning. I would be happy to hear your thoughts.