Uma loved music. She wanted to sing. She went to Pandit Sadashiv, a music teacher, and touched his feet. “Teach me music, Panditji. I want to learn to sing,” said Uma. Panditji was a kind man. “I’ll teach you how to sing. First, I want to find out if you have a good ear for sound.”
Uma eagerly replied, “Yes, Panditji, I can hear very well. I can hear sounds of autos, cars, trucks, local trains, airplanes…”
“Have you heard sounds that birds make?” asked Panditji.
“Yes, I’ve heard birds singing in films,’ Uma replied.
Panditji laughed, “Alright, Uma, when you have holidays, spend a month away from the city. Keep your ears open. Note down all kinds of sounds you hear. Meet me when you return.”
Uma readily agreed. “My Tatu (grandpa) lives in Mysuru. I’ll spend a month with him.”
So during summer holidays Uma went to live with her grandpa and Mayi (grandma) in Mysuru.
Close to their house there was a lake. Tatu, Uma and Mayi went for a walk, one morning around the lake. There Uma saw the sun rising. She felt the warmth of the sun on her face. She could feel the gentle breeze. And then she heard a melodious sound — it was a cuckoo singing. Uma was so happy to hear the song of the cuckoo. Later, when she came back out on the road, she heard a cow moo!
Tatu and Mayi took Uma to Coorg. They lived in a resort which was in the middle of a forest. At night, Uma could see the stars, and the fireflies. She ran after them to catch the fireflies. Then she heard the sounds made by various insects. Suddenly there was thunder and lightning. As she ran inside the house, the sky opened up and it started pouring.
The rain stopped. Suddenly there was silence. Uma could hear the silence. She was filled with peace.
When Uma returned to Mumbai, she went to Pandit Sadashivji. “Panditji,” Uma blurted out,” I heard a cuckoo sing. Also the sounds made by insects, sound of thunder and the sound of rain drops falling on leaves. And, Panditji, I heard silence.”
Panditji smiled. “You are now ready to learn singing from me. Let’s begin now,” said Panditji, tuning the tambura.