Sometimes I feel like I’m in a Bollywood movie.
Watching my friend’s profile stare into the passing evening, shop lights reflecting on her face through the bus window. We three have made this journey so many times, we can predict the curves of the road. They bring along headphones and we plug them into our phones and listen to music.
At first, she chooses songs we both know – songs that have a special memory attached. We have danced to these songs at birthday parties or “welcome back” parties or just because parties. We do miniatures of our best dance moves discreetly in the seat, bobbing our heads back and forth, bringing our shoulders up and down to the beat. We try hard not to laugh loudly, but the other passengers can’t help but stare at our merriment.
Then she moves on to songs I have not heard. They are not dancing songs. I listen intently, trying to pick out from the twisted grammar unique to songs what each is about. Mostly there is unrequited love, or forbidden love, or painful love, or secret love.
Then sometimes we hit a song that sounds like one of the ones played as a background in a Bollywood movie. The part in the movie where the main character has worked through his issues and is on his way to set things right. The part where the skies seem bluer, the rice fields seem greener, and the children happier than ever before. The part where everything is deeply good.
And when we come to that song, it brings a background aura to our bumpy, dusty trip. I’m suddenly nostalgic and find that – indeed – the boys we pass are playing cricket in an extraordinarily emerald pasture framed by a brilliant azure sky.
The first CD I ever owned I bought when I was fifteen with a gift card given me by a friend as a going away present. My family was making a huge move. It felt like an irrevocable change to my identity. It was a journey for which we had no roadmap, no previous experience.
The CD was Rebecca St. James’ Worship God. I listened to it every day. Hearing her rendition of “Let My Words Be Few” takes me instantly back to lying face down in my new bedroom, sobbing out my frustrations and worries to a God who – I had suddenly realized – I needed. Desperately.
The songs served as a liturgy, growing familiar in the midst of unfamiliarity. I would worship and cry and pray, following the movement of the lyrics. Then, the last song would begin. She’d turned Zephaniah 3:17 into a song – singing God’s promise to “quiet you with his love… rejoice over you with singing”. In that moment, leaning into that promise, I thought I could almost hear God’s song. I could almost feel Him hovering over me, whispering quiet love.
It was the part where everything was a little clearer, a little more brilliant.
The part where everything is deeply good.