There are songs that you like for a short time.
There are songs you never wish to hear again.
There are songs that make you cry and those that make you sigh,
Songs that make you smile, if only for a while.
There are songs that transport you to a time in your life that was bright and beautiful, where most things were weird and wonderful, and where you found yourself blissfully happy and carefree.
That time for me was in lower secondary school.
The song was Man Bai’s “Kau Ilhamku”.
It goes like this:
Beribu bintang di langit kini menghilang
meraba aku dalam kelam
rembulan mengambang kini makin suram
pudar ilhamku tanpa arah
Sedetik wajahmu muncul dalam diam
ada kerdipan ada sinar
itukah bintang ataupun rembulan
terima kasih ku ucapkan
Izinkan ku mencuri bayangan wajahmu
Izinkan ku mencuri khayalan dengan mu
andai lagu ini mengganggu ruangan hidupmu
kau senyumlah oh.. sekadar memori kita di arena ini
This song always made me happy though I wasn’t quite sure why. Then the other day while I was having supper, I heard another melody. Though it was not "Kau Ilhamku", there was an echo of it.
Suddenly, I stopped flipping through my magazine and just stared off into space. The other song was still playing, but what resonated in my soul and through my head were the bars of Kau Ilhamku and a feeling I had not experienced in over 15 years.
It was there in front of me as clear as the peanut butter sandwich I was eating.
A school field. Sitting in the grass. A blue sky above. Me and my best friend Az. And the memories and feelings came rushing back.
She was in a sense my inspiration, as we used to trade ideas. We were then quite prolific little writers, although our work would never stand up to literary review. There was always something to write about, some idea we were teasing into being. She had her imaginary friend Emma (I never knew her personally, of course), supposedly a green-eyed, raven-haired beauty who was the protagonist in her stories.
I had my main character Ana (Raja Putri Syarhana Farhani) with her blue eyes, strawberry blond locks and a dusting of freckles across the bridge of her nose, (I guess we had our own ideals about beauty), slated to be the girl who won over the boy everyone wanted. (Well, maybe not everyone, in Form Two it was just me and Az drooling over our class monitor Fuad who was tall, fair and quite cute).
Ana was the heroine who was supposed to grace the pages of my first novel. Ana with the elder brother whose name I still use when signing my sketches. Ana with the loving Caucasian mother from whom she gets her beauty and colouring, and slightly authoritarian Malay father. Ana with the wonderful house and mixed upbringing and poor Bahasa Melayu, which is the reason she gets tuition from the boy, who later finds himself enthralled. And on it goes.
And there were other stories. Some which came from songs we listened to, some based on the people we knew (and had a crush on), some from homework and some just pulled out of our fertile imaginations.
Those times are long since past, but the memory of them never really go away. It’s something that lies dormant until resurrected – by a melody, by a phrase, by a face in the crowd.
It is there, just below the surface. The memory of a friendship. A memory of a song.
Sometimes you just have to play that song again.