An encounter with a light.
My first encounter with Mozart was during a day trip on a train. We were going from Mumbai to Pune, I think.
In that space of the compartment cramped with people, he along with two or three of his friends, was making his way forward through small openings unseen by the naked eyes. Eventually he neared our seats and I heard it then, he was singing a song from an old bollywood movie. I hadn't heard that song before but I swear that hearing him sing, I thought that the song couldn't be sung better. And my colleagues seemed to have the same thought.
He and his group came over and started entertaining us, Mozart sung, while one of his friends beat a steel plate with a cup producing noises, supposedly as accompanying music while the rest of his friends danced or at least tried to, in that stuffed space.
After a few minutes when the song finished, the boys came to each of us asking for coins. The joy that the chiming of coins brought to their faces was priceless. They were to take their leave through those same openings when my senior caught hold of Mozart. He made him sit on his lap and started talking to him.
"What is your name?" He had asked.
"Mozam-ud-din Ahmed" The little boy had answered.
We asked him many things and came to know lots about him. He was from the slums near the Mumbai railway station from where we boarded. The other boys with him were his brothers and cousins and they were all there with his Father who was in the adjacent compartment selling snacks. He had learned to sing the songs after hearing them on old cassettes. We asked him about school and he answered that he went to a primary government school three out of the four days of the week. On the others he would help out his family like that day. He said that he liked studying and also wanted to be a great singer one day.
Our senior invited him and his brothers to have lunch with us and they gladly accepted. We shared part of our own meals with them; it was not much, just some chapattis and a few kinds of vegetables to go with that, and even then we saw the boys sharing the meal, savouring each bite and playing while eating.
Finally, our senior handed him a hundred rupee note. He started to say something about using the money well, but stopped while addressing him, he had forgotten his name, then one of our colleagues suggested to name him Mozart. With a laugh we named him that and he seemed to take it well too. The group finally left us while shouting the name Mozart.
It has been about four years since the incident and during this time I had taken the same rail route countless of times alone or with colleagues, but unfortunately I never did get the chance to hear Mozart again.
However, as luck would have it, last Sunday my wish finally came to fruition, and I finally heard it again, that sweet voice like the goddess of music had directly touched his words. Those unfamiliar lyrics, and yet those familiar melodies, all were about to push me in a trance when I realised that he was actually here and I had to meet him again.
I spotted him among the crowd of people, and approached him. He turned around and looked at me for a moment before recognising me. I found it impressive that he remembered who I was even after so long.
We talked for the rest of the trip and he told me about all that had happened in these past years. He was now twelve and in the last year of his primary education. Things were better than before and he now worked only on Sundays. The day we gave him the name Mozart, he went and told it to his family, his father was not quite happy with that, he was angry instead suspecting that he had stolen the hundred. But he and his brothers were able to make his father believe in what actually happened and thus avoided a beating.
He continued, saying that that was not the end of Mozart, he told his friends and teachers at school about the name and eventually got a chance to sing in front of everyone. Soon afterwards the news spread throughout the slum and his popularity grew. In the train too, people were amused at first by his name and then by his singing, some local newspaper even reported about him and just recently he had started to post videos of him singing online with the help of his teachers.
Getting out of the train, I saw him smiling and waving me goodbye and I thought to myself, "Mozart is Sunshine", indeed, a light that shines brightly at his family, his community, and most importantly, his future. He shines even after being among all this dirt, and no amount of effort would be able to extinguish it.