Dj Amal Aj, short for Disc Jockey Amal Ajayan- wherein the expansion of the first he sought and found quickly, appreciative of the marriage between knowledge and acronyms and the short hand for the second he made when he saw Amal too meek a representation, and ‘AJ’ a stronger one when inscribed on park benches, trees or bathroom walls. It would be the illustration of a rising talent in a small city (like a wave of sorts, where he imagined people talking about it or whispering rather and awaiting this ubermensch of artistic revolution). Although he had stood only twice in front of the gas stove, spinning his hands about, pretending it was a D.J machine, he pictured later in his mind, while sitting in his engineering college bus, someone reading his future interview, and reading in it that Dj Amal Aj often stood in front of his mother’s gas stove envisioning the music scene of tomorrow; often was a word of passion, he felt. The magazine would address him as a visionary and talk about how the visionary bought his first C.D at the age of 18 (though he had never actually bought this C.D) and had immediately conjured in his head a remix that could shake the world. “I always had this habit of introducing beats in my head, into songs that didn’t actually have them; I used to refit words and move them around for fun”, and this would come in italics, and bold, next to a photo of him playing to a large crowd or signing a swift autograph. While looking out of the bus that day, he also imagined the article would call his Thiruvananthapuram town ‘humble’ as many cricketers called their towns humble, their parentage humble and their families humble. Later that same night, wearing a pair of shorts, he played his Gas stove D.J device for the third time and imagined a few girls from his current college reading his interview and feeling a bulge of triumph at finding mention of their school and at the same time, feeling a little pang of pain at having let the bird fly unsaddled; they would know, he thought, that they should have known all along. They would perhaps even cherish a few songs he had suggested to them earlier- show their kids the magazine article (no, they wouldn’t have had kids by then, he would be a young prodigy) or show someone else the young prodigy and talk about the brief educational stint he’d shared with them. This was the time he bought the Jobs’ biography, because he said and sincerely thought he’d shared a striking similarity with the man and often quoted him as many teenagers did to explain failure in college. He was well satisfied with his current direction except that maybe his town wasn’t peculiar enough, sort of lodged in the normalcy of being a medium town- not a small town or a large town, and hence did not lend him enough character. So he was happy when the DJ machine he’d eyed so badly was made only in Mumbai and not anywhere in Kerala. Perhaps, this was an omen- a calling towards the bigger world.
The DJ machine was much costlier than a gas stove, and his money belonging to his parents in all sense of the word ‘real’ (as in real expenditure and real priorities), put him in a tough position. He introduced the topic during a phase of musical euphoria and synergy in the house, during a special round of Idea Star Singer where the judges and his parents were all praise for the girl who just sang her heart out about the sincerity of death and defeat. Though jubilant about the girl making it to the next round, his parents were no supportive of his idea, even when he said he would sacrifice the possibility of a (possibly) new bike. This, he took to his heart. The D.J Amal AJ struck down in the all his earnestness, his dreams crushed, his soul rebuked by caregivers who gave no care. Lying down upon his bed, he thought of how the magazines would carry this excerpt of tough life. He thought it deserved to be italicized as well; perhaps it would come under a picture of his house. “D.J Amal Aj was a talent almost lost when at the age of 18 his parents refused him a D.J machine; despite him having saved money, it wasn’t enough.” There would also be mention of his gas stove once again, wherein they would say he stayed up by the gas stove all night listening to music, imagining and reimagining the songs as they would sound after he’d worked on them.
He went off to sleep early that night though, listen to songs on his old (still new) phone..
A few mornings after that, after days of closet contemplation and evaluation, he remembered a quote from somewhere which when summarized, stated that there was no age too old to develop a passion for something. Ergo, his passion for D.J-ing was in fact real passion and not a fleeting one like how his parents had put it. So what if once he stated he had the passion for skating or for collecting stamps, what if he swore his life once to being a true painter or woke up early mornings a few months to learn dancing.
His friend came over that day, following this reaffirmation of passions, to have his photo clicked with his new camera. Photography was one his main passions, along with travelling and a love for bikes. Meddling with his D.S.L.R (Digital Single Lens Reflex, and thus once again pressing that sacred bond between knowledge and acronyms), they talked for a while about what they did and what they planned to do and about the various charades in their lives, and all of this and that until his friend mentioned a musical event happening the following month at the city’s only eleven o’clock club.
D.J Amal Aj’s friends, the magazine would say, are still the same despite the years of fame and the oodles of money. They still meet as they used to, in the same parts of his medium, old city, and talk and eat and mingle as before. He’d also expect the magazine to talk about his philanthropy, about his little gestures wherein he’d fly his friends to London or pay for their weddings. There would most definitely be an old photo of him standing with his friends- perhaps the one where they are all sitting in the college cafeteria. His friend, the digitally singly reflective one, would get a special mention as the one who introduced him to his first concert.
His father however would still be part of his strife; with the event so close at hand, a D.J machine could not be done without. The city was about ripe but his parents would not budge. About this, he thought while lying on his bed and reading reverently and soulfully, his excerpts from the Steve Jobs biography- his inspirational friend and what he felt was his only connect, the one who understood his complete, one and true passion for D.J-ing, (very different from his passion for dancing or graphic designing or skating or painting or whatever else his parents threw at him.) These would be the nights, he thought, where he would mourn by his Gas Stove and wallow in self defeat, never giving up however and never backing down. The songs he listened to then were also about not giving up, though they really were about love or lost love or some such thing. While lying down, he would imagine him swallowing hard by his gas stove, holding on and then he would imagine him thinking back about all this while at the peak of his fame. And when the song reached its high point- the relatively fast paced frothing, he would imagine his fury at not being able to triumph at once, or not being awarded the opportunity to triumph. Sometimes he even imagined breaking a glass tumbler that was near the gas stove. About all this he thought over and over again while lying in front of an open book of ‘Mechanical Engineering- Volume II’ by R.K Bansal and lazily turning its pages till his mother called him for dinner. He tried, and tried weakly a couple more times to get the D.J machine but of course, to no avail. He could have gotten himself a DJ software on his computer, but he decided that wouldn’t be professional enough. It would be opportune to wait for a D.J machine. He thought, hence, more and more about how he’d be sad by the Gas Stove. Perhaps, he then told himself, he’d simply go to the concert, see what it was about and come back next year with the full force of a God’s sledge hammer. “An observer to his first concert at the age of 18,” the magazine would say, “D.J Amal Aj came back the following year with the most stylized and inspired performance the city had ever witnessed.” Perhaps it would, if the reporter was creative enough, say that he took the city by storm.
And so he resolved to go to the concert the following week, float about like a silent observer and return next year with a gripping performance. He thought about this for a whole week, and then while listening to music on his phone the day before the gala, imagined himself in dark shades and a jacket, walking silently amidst the crowd, turning a few heads and observing the music scene- the disco ball all the while following him in spots and specks.
When night came the next day however, he was unsure about going to the concert. It was a rainy day and he told himself that the event might get postponed due to a lack of audience (even though it was an indoor concert people might find it hard to travel, he told himself. It was quite plausible.) His mother had made some chicken stew and the season finale of Idea Star Singer was being re-aired. Before he knew it, it was past the anointed time and he resolved to sit at home. His father came home and his mother served tea and he opened lazily Chapter 6 of ‘Mechanical Engineering- Volume II’ by R.K. Bansal. When he listened to music on his phone that night, he imagined him standing on his rooftop, looking in the club’s direction and smirking at what they’d missed. He imagined the wind blowing his short hair back and he imagined him resolving once again to visit the event next year (provided it was annual) and to take the city by storm a few years later (provided it was still there.) “D.J Amal Aj,” the magazine would say, “never attended many concerts. The first concert he attended was his own.”
A year later, he was part of the college badminton team. He polished his racquets early mornings sometimes and talked about getting a membership in the state club for badminton. Badminton now, was no childish passion. The time for that was long gone. “Amal Ajayan showed keen interest in badminton since the age of 10.” the magazine would say, “he often fashioned racquets out of sticks and played with paper balls till he got his first set”.
Often, he knew, was a word of passion.