Thu Mar 11 2021 05:00:00 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)
I was not a believer or a dreamer. I was a cynic. I never thought I could be anybody. As far as my talent went, I sang at family parties and later, college events. At 16, I walked into my first home studio. It belonged to my brother’s friend and we visited for fun. Years later, my brother’s friend tagged me in a Facebook post looking to write and record a song with a singer/songwriter.
Before that, I developed polyps (growths) on my vocal cords in college. I stopped singing as I began to lose my voice and my confidence with it. In 2013, I finally got surgery. The road to recovery physically was only 10 days. But the road to getting back to who I was felt impossible. So I said yes to my brother’s friend. It was the first step towards anything more than this.
A few months later, he called me and asked if I’d want to meet A.R Rahman, who had heard our song, and asked who I was. I met him the next day. We walked around the city, went to B&H, had lunch, and went to the 34th street Guitar Center where A.R. sir said so casually, ‘sing something.’ With practically zero confidence and shaky hands, I sang the only original song I had written then, right there in the store, surrounded by guitars, as he recorded the entire thing on his phone. Later that night, when he asked me to come work for him, all I could think was that these things don’t happen for people like me. That doubt was confirmed a day later.
My dad ended up in the hospital half-paralyzed. I was the one to find him. He had so much compression in his spinal cord that he lost control and fell outside while taking out the garbage, hitting his head on the concrete. Bleeding and unable to move, he had called out for help for almost 45 minutes. It was a cold, October night. I still think about this sometimes, that if I hadn’t heard him from my bedroom window, he wouldn’t have made it. My dad went through a 12-hour surgery and after advocating for his care, he got into the best rehab in the city. He was home the day before Thanksgiving.
The night of my dad’s accident, A.R. Rahman told me, ‘I’ll pray for your family, and the offer stands anytime.’ After helping my family, I decided that I needed to take a chance on myself. It wasn’t easy, but I had been unhappy for so long and had done nothing about it. I had to do something. At 24, I packed my bags and left in March 2014 for Chennai, India. I didn’t know a word of Tamil and I missed home but it was the first time I worked with softwares I never had, walked into film studios, worked with celebrities, and got paid to do it all. I soaked up everything I could.
When I returned to NY, I hustled with the ounce of belief and confidence I gained. Sometimes the grind felt useless and oftentimes, I felt like I started really late. I’m 30 now and it took me this long to understand my worth. But I stopped worrying about that. Here I am now, with so much to be proud of. Now I get a chance to tell the younger generation to show up, commit and prove themselves every shot they get. We may face many failures but we may also be happy and succeed. Just look where I got my cynic self.
Music, Health, Family