At dawn, after a three-hour discussion, Parikshit rushed ahead of an old man in his sixties carrying his bag. As they reached the green Hindustan Ambassador waiting for them near the entrance of the music school, the old man wearing a white dhoti and dark green angavastram entered the car after Parikshit placed his bag in the back seat and opened the door for him.
As the old man, Hastar settled, he confessed, “I was worried if you would have issues with what I was planning to tell you about Diya. However, after our meeting, I’m relieved.”
With a smile, Parikshit mentioned, “Trust me, sir. I will report nothing more than what you have informed me. Your institute will receive the best advertising through this interview.”
Glancing at the young interviewer, Hastar mentioned, “It’s good business for your newspaper too,” as Parikshit nodded, he continued, “Convey Akashvani my best wishes and thank you!”
As they exchanged smiles, the engine roared before the master left. After the car reached a distance, Parikshit adjusted his shirt, took a mouth freshener before getting started on his next interview.
The cold wind and the sunset enhanced Parikshit’s perception of the music school’s beauty. Entering the two-floored building, painted in light orange with classical instrument motifs on it, Parikshit reached the tutors’ chambers on the second floor.
Walking by the rooms named after ascending musical notes, Parikshit reached a dark green door. Taking a deep breath and checking his pockets, he knocked on the door before he heard a response to enter.
Behind the door was a twenty-eight-year-old violinist. A young woman with broad eyes, thick black hair flowing till her waist, honey-hued complexion and lean appearance stood up from her chair as he entered the room.
Approaching each other, they shook hands. Gesturing him to sit down, Diya settled across the round table. In the square room filled with white light, Parikshit pulled out his recorder and placed it on the dark green table.
Glancing at the empty room which had nothing more than a dark green table with three chairs along with a film magazine, a cup of coffee and a violin case on the table, Parikshit took another deep breath of the cold air gushing through the open window behind the violinist.
Observing her silky hair dance and feeling her soothing vibe, he turned on the recorder before stating, “This Christmas, I’m getting to know the journey of violinist Ms. Diya Snyder. My name is Parikshit Hegde and I’m from The Coastal Times. Firstly, let me congratulate you on your most recent endeavor of scoring the thriller movie Vichitram.”
As Diya heard Parikshit’s voice faintly echo, she felt as though they were on kailasagiri. That place made her recall the few times she honestly played the violin for herself lying in the lap of her mother.
From that thought, she jumped to think about the puppet she was being in this interview much to her mother’s disappointment. This thought made Diya stay silent for a moment. While she felt helpless unable to defy her materialistic master, she heard the cold winds whisper, “The truth is worth it child.”
Heading to the unasked advice from her only audience on kailasagiri, Diya replied, “Hello Parikshit. It’s nice to meet you.”
With a smile on her face, Diya looked at his pale oval face for a moment observing his round glasses around his black eyes. She wasn’t sure about her decision but firmly agreed that it was the right course of action.
Smiling back, Parikshit pulled out his pocket notebook while enquiring, “So would you like to tell our readers at what age did you start playing the violin?”
Diya stayed silent for a moment unsure about her decision. However, a moment later, she hesitantly replied, “When I was eleven years of age.”
With her answer, Parikshit’s smile faded. He was surprised, thinking about the contradicting numbers. He turned his notebook pages to read, ‘She started at 8.’
Observing him, Diya smiled before biting her tongue. Confused, Parikshit questioned, “That’s late... Can you tell us why you chose the violin as your calling?”
With this question, Diya’s smile faded. For a moment, she stayed silent again. A moment later, she confessed, “I never chose it Mr. Parikshit. It was forced upon me.”
Observing his notes, Parikshit read, ‘She picked it out of her liking.’
Without a second thought, Parikshit turned off the recorder. Observing Diya’s smile, he said, “I’ve earned only a little time of yours through this appointment Ms. Diya. I would appreciate it if you could simply tell me the truth.”
Crossing her legs, Diya replied, “If I’m to be your parrot and repeat your notes in a recording, you could have sent me the notes and made our jobs simpler.”
Nodding in disagreement, Parikshit confessed, “Your statements don’t match with the information your guru has provided me, Ms. Diya. Either one of you must certainly be… misleading.”
Taking a deep breath, Diya asked, “You’re interviewing me because you have been ordered to do so and since your editor is related to my master, she is only inclined in telling your readers what you were informed by my master. Right?”
Parikshit nodded in disagreement again. Observing him, Diya stated, “If you’re willing to at least listen to the truth, I’m least concerned about what you are going to report Mr. Parikshit. I’m certain both of us have little control over the outcome.”
With a wry smile, Parikshit asked, “You want to do the right thing even though it might not pay off?”
Leaning forward, Diya stated, “I’m just not willing to be an agent in promoting a business. That’s not how I intend to be grateful.”
Impressed, Parikshit turned on the recorder before asking, “Could you elaborate about how it was forced upon you, Ms. Diya?”
Feeling glad, Diya nodded in appreciation before saying, “My sister loved the violin and intended to learn it. However, since she was the breadwinner of the family and had no time to spare, I was forced to fulfill her dream.”
Jotting notes, Parikshit asked, “Why was she the breadwinner, Ms. Diya? I’ve been told by your guru that your relatives offered support after you lost your parents in an unfortunate car accident.”
Nodding in agreement, Diya replied, “They offered but my sister declined. She learned to tailor and fed both of us as soon as she finished school.”
Observing Diya not blinking, Parikshit enquired, “She was ten years older than you. Could we know if she was more like a mother to you than a sister?”
Thinking about it for a moment, Diya replied, “More like a strict father than a pleasant mother.”
With a smile, Parikshit asked, “If you were forced into it, why did you continue even after she got married? You were on your own while being given money.”
Without a second thought, Diya admitted, “Because I was good at nothing but playing the violin.”
Confused, Parikshit enquired, “Then, shouldn’t you be grateful to your master for gifting you a skill that made you independent?”
With a flat smile, Diya replied, “I’m grateful that he gave me a taste of music and trained me but I hate him for polluting the profession. His desire of becoming rich is unquenchable and it’s destroying the next generation of musicians.”
Frowning, Parikshit asked, “Don’t you think a talented musician should charge for his services?”
Thinking about her students, Diya asked, “Charge from those who cannot offer? For a skill, he could impart with little expense?”
After a moment of silence, Diya continued, “Artists are dying seeking professions they don’t belong in and the few who have earned their place in the lap of their mother are exploiting art lovers using position while being controlled by their weakness. Yes, they struggled but that doesn’t justify their actions.”
Parikshit chose to remain silent and a moment later, Diya decided to conclude comprehending that he wouldn’t even try to make a difference if truth be told. So, she just stated, “I’m not a gifted child Mr. Parikshit. I don’t have an ideal master and neither do I respect that my sister’s forceful attempt to make me learn violin helped me. Now if you intend to report this to your readers rather than glorifying me of having been born to only score films, I would appreciate it.”
Taking a deep breath, Prakshit enquired, “Is music your lover or feeder?”
With a smile, Diya replied, “Even though we have had our moments and I have immense respect for it, I must admit that it’s my feeder.”
Without saying another word, Parikshit turned off the recorder and put his notebook in his pocket. While packing his recorder in, he asked, “Can we meet for coffee? I would like to know you better. I’m certain there is a lot more but I cannot do it now. I cannot know all of it and not report it.”
Thinking about it for a moment, Diya replied, “I’m busy until the 4th of January. How about we meet for lunch on the 5th?”
Observing him agreeing, Diya picked up her handbag hanging to the chair and gave him her card.
Hesitating for a moment, Parikshit asked, “Can my girlfriend accompany me? She adored your most recent work.”
Controlling her laughter, Diya replied, “Even if she didn’t, she could certainly join. It would be fun. You could meet my husband too.”
Exchanging smiles, they shook hands as Parikshit thanked her once more before leaving. That weekend, the Coastal Times published an article in their entertainment weekly stating, “Ms. Diya Snyder: A Master’s Prodigy”.
As much as Diya wanted to burn the weekly, she dropped it on her table alongside the film magazine and left to attend her daily classes.
On 5th January, reaching the apartment, Parikshit knocked on the white door before being greeted by the tallest man he has ever seen.
Looking at the surprised man and the fascinated girl, Joseph shouted, “Diya! The questioner is here!”
As soon as he finished his sentence, Madhuri laughed along with Joseph before mentioning to Parikshit, “I like him!”
Passing the sweets and fruits to Joseph, Parikshit noticed that Diya wore a green saree. After introductions, Madhuri couldn’t help but mention, “This is the first time I liked Parikshit’s job. He finally got me to meet a celebrity.”
As they settled at the dining table, Parikshit began, “I tried but as you anticipated, my editor believed that truth will disappoint young minds seeking success. She believes that it might alter their approach to life.”
Diya laughed before asking, “So they chose to lie through my interview? How foolish of them.”
Meanwhile, Joseph started serving rice and Madhuri served the carrot curry along with fried fish. Serving water, Parikshit stated, “Truth cannot be hidden for long, Ms. Diya. Sooner or later, it shall be revealed. You’ll do many more interviews.”
With a smile, Diya replied, “Your editor didn’t lie for the young minds, Mr. Parikshit. Ms. Akashvani could have earned more using the sensational information. However, she acted like many others who cannot digest the truth. If such bitter pills are served every day, our minds shall not last long.”
All of them looked at each other and shared a smile before they started their lunch. They knew a secret that the others didn’t and the others knew a billion secrets that they didn’t.
This short story has been published in an anthology of eight stories titled “Eccentric Endings”. Our artists would benefit if you could order a paperback to show your support. Order your copy now!