The Rise and Shine!

I wore the blazer again and again and looked at myself in the mirror. I would have tried all the combinations of 3 shirts and 2 trousers with the blazer my father had bought taking an advance loan. All the preparations were on for the day when the India’s Best Singer contest was to come to the Royal College in Gangapur, Rajasthan. I started singing at the age of 3 and all of the rest 20 years I only worshipped was my Guru – my Father, music and singing.

The D day arrived; there were not many participants as were observers. Half of Gangapur’s modest population of 25,000 came to watch the celebrity judges whom they had just seen on posters or on television. I braced myself and tried to sing a classical, the anxiety over came my performance. I was selected as a waiting list participant meaning if someone did not turn up, I would be called. Rest few days went as usual; my mom had packed the blazer and even spoken of selling it to a relative who was to get married soon. Father would day and night think of replaying the loan and I myself had taken up tuitions to help father repay the loan. The only good change the let-down brought in me was I doubled up my riyaz (practise) and started living music.

An unexpected call on 21st November 2010 to the c/o neighbour’s number changed my life. I never knew this call would take me to an unexpected turn in my life and what the future held!

“I am speaking from India’s Best Singer. We need you here in Mumbai, can you make it tomorrow?” An eager young voice shouted over the cacophony that surrounded her. I was dumbfound to answer anything, going to Mumbai meant more expenses upfront even if it was paid later by the company. I also knew it was my last chance to make it big. Leaving a note under my father’s pillow and some cash from a friend, I left for the Maximum City!

Reaching the quarterfinals was a breeze. I knew I was the heartthrob with my sweet chocolate boy demeanour. I got close to a fellow contestant, Rajshree. Before the finale, all participants were taken to their home town, but I refused. I was a top contender finalist competing with Rajshree and Asit a boy from Asam. The contest had a nail biting finish and along with the title I won 50 lakh cash and a singing contract with the channel. I was an overnight star, a sensation, I received calls from unknown people congratulating me on my success, I chatted with girls to increase popularity, gave interviews in leading newspapers and radio channels and was the star to every party I was invited. People just wanted me. The importance and the recognition I was gaining I knew the world was at my feet. I knew the way to be in limelight was through my rich young friends. I vaguely remember when at a star studded after award party, Rajshree wanted to sing and I in high spirits grabbed the mic, “I will sing, I am the star, this party is for winners! Give it to me.”  “Aaj jaane ki zid na karo ….” I fell to the ground and rest I read in the news papers, “Rags to Riches and now Young but Finished!”. However such things cannot dampen my spirits, media always tries to bring people down. “Alcoholism, loud music, parties and now drugs, is all you have with you now.” Rajshree never understood me, why do those people give a lecture on success … who have never seen success. I left her.

A year had passed; my first album had created record sales. My dates for the next one year were booked and my first solo stage show was over booked in Rajasthan. My mega posters were all over the city, with people piling around my car to get an autograph. I knew I was the best but anxiety hadn’t let me sleep for a week now in spite of the anti-depressants I took. I selected my leather jacket from the best of brands that wanted to sponsor me. Talent sells…is all I can say. I needed the energy and wanted to be on a high, I sniffed some more marijuana pumped up some protein shakes kissed Anji, my girlfriend passionately before hitting the stage. The crowd was going mad wanted to hear me, even a word was enough. I could barely see the crowd just a hazy layer of black heads! My first half of the performance had girls fainting, wanting to touch me, grab me! The second half, I called some girls on stage against the security orders and a small explosion in one of boom boxes led to a chaos. I was frisked away by security and after that I am blank even today as to what happened.

Next day’s newspaper made me pay the price of my success. Among the 18 people who died in the stampede, were a couple in their 70’s. I was called for recognition and the only thing I recognised on the mutilated body was the blazer the man was wearing. It took me no time to join the dots to my how being in Rajasthan. It’s been two years since the incident; I am convicted and lost the court case of the stampede episode proving me guilty of not adhering to security measures. My hired top lawyer proved me a hard core drug addict to avoid jail. I am in a rehabilitation making baskets and earning 100 rupees a day. Rajshree is a top play back singer now; she comes every week to meet me. Drugs took away my singing ability however I do hum songs when Rajshree is here.

It is quite rightly said, the people you meet when climbing up the steps of success … are the same you meet when climbing down!
This post is part of  A significant turn.. on<
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