Possibly one of the best things about art and artistes is the capacity to reach out and touch people they have never met. Their art transcends space and time and urges us to connect to them individually. And continues to remain with us much after they have moved on to the next phase.
I have never met Kalyani Menon, but I distinctly remember the first time I looked up the singer when I hear the Pibare Ramarasam rendition on the Morning Raga album. Even now every time I hear it, I have to stop everything I am doing and acknowledge the tears in my eyes. Her voice simply does that.
Years later I received a call and it was the same voice on the other end – so rich with warmth and emotion and experience. Kalyani Ma’am simply called up to have a chat as there was a possibility of us working together. It didn’t work out then but I was hopeful to make it happen some day. But once in a while our calls and banter would continue and it was always wonderful to hear about her experiences and thoughts on life. I was surprised at how open and trusting she was to someone she had never met and realised that one can be that way too. A really humbling experience.
Once while I was guest editor at Times of India for an Onam edition and gathering articles from different perspectives, I requested her to pen her thoughts and memories. She was reluctant claiming that words weren’t really her medium but her son, the articulate Karun Menon, gallantly stepped in as writer of her thoughts and the below article was the result. The title and her parting just before Onam makes their writing even more poignant.
I wish I had an opportunity to be a small part of her journey but am so glad she has been part of mine and will continue to inspire me. Just like she effortlessly went from being Ma’am to Aunty. Much respect and love to you Kalyani Aunty.
The link to The Mukkutis I left behind by Kalyani Menon & Karun Menon.