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Music is Forever Episode 2: Music is forever.

After Ram's concert, Sangeetha and Anil join him at home. Ram and Sangeetha's mother is there (Ram calls her Ma and Sangeetha calls her Mummy), along with Ram's wife Malini, and his five-year-old daughter Shruti had not come to the concert, because Shruti had a school play. Ram had been devastated he couldn't see her.

Sangeetha's mother greets Anil stiffly. She is very uncomfortable with his relationship with her daughter and blames Anil for "corrupting" her. However, she makes sure to feed him well. Malini draws both of them inside, asks them to sit down, and asks what they'd like to drink.

Little five-year-old Shruti runs up to her aunt and hugs her around her legs. "Guess what I did today?" she asks.

"What?" Sangeetha asks, indulging her.

"I was a yam!" she says, jumping.

"You were? Wow!" Sangeetha picks her up and puts her down.

"Mm, you look yummy. Come here!" Anil licks his lips and pretends to chase her. Shruti squeals with delight and runs to her mother.

"Shru, come, it's already late for you." Ram says seriously. She silently toddles over to him. Ram is never fond of discussions that involved "silly American customs," and though he is devastated that he could not see his daughter in only her second school play, he's thankful to miss Thanksgiving. His passion for all things Indian have left him with a faint Indian accent even after over 30 years outside the country.

He lifts Shruti up and zooms her around like an airplane while she giggles, and puts her to bed.

When Ram comes back, Malini invites everyone to eat. They eat buffet-style, though Mummy insists on serving each person herself. On the sofas they gather and Ram launches into an attack on Thanksgiving. "I mean, we have no need to celebrate the Pilgrim landing! We didn't land here!"

Anil, ever ready to play devil's advocate, pipes in, "Well it's a nice concept, giving thanks for what you get. What's wrong with that?" Sangeetha thinks it wise to change the subject. She nudges Anil and asks, "Hey Ram, what raga was that song you sang - the one next to the last. Some Hindustani one."

"Patadeep," he says, almost bored.

"What's it called in Carnatic?" She looks around to see if anyone else knows.

"It's the same," he explains, as if to a child. "A lot of them are the same."

"Why do they always sing Hindustani songs at the end of a concert?" Anil asks.

Sangeetha shrugs. Mummy, wiping her hands on a dishtowel, says, "Eh, because if they put them at the beginning, everyone will leave after they are over!"

Everyone chuckles. But Ram shakes his head. "No, no, ma. This is part of the concert tradition that Ariyakudi made popular. First you do the elaborate alapanai and kalpana swara. You really want to get the music first. Then the light stuff goes at the end if there is time. Also, it is good to have slokas and tillanas at the end."

Anil isn't satisfied by this explanation, but he keeps his mouth shut. They drop the subject of music and finish their dinner chatting about mundane things - work, studying, things to be done, family gossip. Sangeetha and Anil eventually make their way out the door, and the others wave goodbye until they can no longer see them. As they drive away, Mummy says, "See, that Anil? He is spoiling her." Ram corroborates, "Yes, she is so out of touch with music these days. She asks me what patadeep is! Ha! I bet she is listening to rap music now."

In the dark, Sangeetha and Anil make their way back home. They collapse on the bed and sleep dreamlessly.

In the morning, Sangeetha's eyes flutter. Sangeetha was never fond of waking up early. She always preferred the slow waking of a Saturday morning, stretching her arms, squinting in the bright sunlight that filtered between the blinds on the window and set the sheets aglow.

Today she wakes like that, a sleepy morning stretch that warms her elbows. She blinks and rubs her eyelashes, and rolls onto her tummy. A hand flails out, and she finds herself alone in the bed.

Sangeetha startles and sits upright on her heels. Where's Anil?

A distant clanging alerts her that he is making himself breakfast, probably sloppily. Sangeetha (eyes still half closed) makes her way to the bathroom, but still emerges sleepily. He showered already.

A sudden thought comes to mind - she checks the clock. 10:30 already! She grabs a random salwar kameez from the closet, some underwear, and takes a shower. The warm water feels good, and she takes a moment to luxuriate in the suds that dribble over her shoulders. She hums under her breath, and takes the time to practice her alankarams. As if she won't have enough of that this morning! The hum of the shower (when set on full blast) is, quite conveniently, a perfect G, and to this shruti, she sings sa ri ga ma pa da ni Sa Sa ni da pa ma ga ri sa, aaaaaaaa aaaaaaaa, over and over. After a few minutes of this, she shuts off the water. She begins, "manavyaalakin-charaa-dhate" but it threatens to drift into a popular film song, so she finishes drying off and dresses hurriedly.

She is just slipping on a pair of earrings when Anil comes in, looking freshly-shaven and full.

"Hello, sleepyhead. Ready?"

"Yes. What are you doing today?"

"Don't know. Maybe some b-ball. Jon wants to go blading though. We'll see."

"Wait for me to go blading. And we have to get done early, there's that kutcheri tonight."

"We just went to one last night!" He admires her in the full-length mirror and draws his arms in front of her, humming a familar tune.

"That was my brother! What are you humming?" She smiles back and thinks for a second. "Some film song I guess. Sounds like hindolam. "

"Hindolam? How do you know?"

"Duh. Sa ga ma da ni sa. Obvious."

"Yeah, VERY!" Anil rolls his eyes, trying not to look impressed.

"Anyway..." Sangeetha continues. She pulls back her hair and drags the dupatta around her neck. "Tonight's the big violin concert, remember? We HAVE to go."

"And then we can go bowling afterwards."

Sangeetha snickers. She throws her arms around Anil and kisses him goodbye. Then she grabs her music bag and slides into her lime-green VW bug. She waves goodbye out of the window and pulls out of the carport. A CD of various ranjanis sung by various artists begins playing, and she cruises the five miles to music class.

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updated on 01/13/2013