An ode to my Ukulele

My mahogany magic

It’s funny that one of the most recent additions to my possessions has become one of my most valued. My attachment to the compact mahogany instrument begins with it being the first significant thing that I truly bought for myself. The purchase was not done after months of consideration, which is typical of everyone in my family. In fact I hadn’t even thought of buying it two weeks before I actually did. I’d appreciated a friend for his guitar skills after watching his video, and unintentionally let out a line of self-pity: “I wish I could play an instrument like you”.

His casual response — that it’s never too late — would not have clung to me on any other day. But that day, it did. As I let that thought sit with me, the dense layers of invisible heavy nets covering my deep desire to learn an instrument came undone, and I realised, quite suddenly, that there was nothing stopping me from doing it.

As a child and adolescent, I had always wanted to learn the guitar or keyboard, and been fiercely denied the right to do that because of my father’s dislike for Western music. I realised that I’d carried the resentment all along, and had closed off my mind to the possibility of learning any instrument. With the purchase of this Ukulele, a perfectly simple but exciting instrument, I decided to let go. I intently cherished the process of choosing and ordering it all by myself, without consulting or informing my parents, especially my dad. I let my inner child find her moment of rebellion in this act.

Since I received it a few weeks ago, I have discovered a new kind of joy while holding it. The transition from merely a spectator and fan of those who play, to one who can do the same has been surreal. A usually lazy and easily discouraged pupil, I now practise several times in a day, even when I start off terrible. The Ukulele propped up on my table has become a beacon of hope and excitement, and brightens me up even on a day when the dark cloud hangs over me.

Not just symbolically, but also literally, the small instrument has given me a voice. Never one to publicly display my singing skills, I now put up videos of my practice sessions, singing little pieces of songs while playing the instrument. The harsh inner critic who’d been vigilant for all these years has suddenly been silenced. The instrument seems to Whisper words of wisdom: “let it be”, as I sing in my last video, clutching the warm wooden wonder close to my heart.

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Nirupama V

Nirupama V

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I’m a development research and communications professional in India. Passionate about writing and mental health.