Some would call my love for music an addiction. Rather, I prefer ‘refuge’. My refuge at the end of a long day and perhaps when I have a heavy heart. It is my friend when I am happy and relaxed, or the classmate that walks me to lectures. Music makes me, and what makes my music are my seventy-something playlists on Spotify.

I listen to different genres and kinds in Hindi, Korean, Axomiya (Assamese, my native tongue), English and even Sanskrit (think Indian classical music). An infatuated Hindi serenade will be followed by (G)I-DLE’s twerk-busting “My Bag” after which an Assamese Bihu tune seeps in, one of Assam’s many folk and music genres. One needs ambience sometimes because… well, why not! Why get ready for class in silence when I can put on “Wildside” by Sabrina Carpenter and Sofia Carson to feel like I am in the opening scene of a Disney film? And on nights that feel right, when my flatmates are probably asleep and no one can see me (assuming my room is not haunted) I put on my favourite K-pop and Indian ‘item’ numbers and pretend to be a super popstar on stage. Or that I am at my favourite boyband The Rose’s concert. Then, there are those times when I don’t need just a song, but to be transported somewhere else; montages play in my head.

I turn to my summer ‘home core’ playlist that makes me feel like I’m back where I came from. The first song, “Rupsa Ra Moti” (a Himachali Pahadi folk song) plays and suddenly there are breezy, lazy summer afternoons, fields, transmission towers, train lines, singing crickets, hills, clouds and me riding a bike through little paths across fields. Except that Guwahati, my hometown, does not quite live up to this vision — the curse of being northeast India’s biggest city. Also, I do not know how to ride a bike.

“Rupsa Ra Moti” ends and my impatient, craving hands skip to “Loka Motive” by Papon. The Tokari (an Assamese folk instrument) starts with a catchy beat which is soon joined in by the singer’s earthy voice in Axomiya. “Eri thoi oh amur oii//Luitor paarore oii//Xuwoni gaon khoni xun xuworoni//Kenekoi pahoru moi oii//Muke sun maate roi roi//”. “The village that I left behind, the one on the banks of Luit… My golden reminiscence, how do I forget? It calls me on”. This time I am a solo-traveller on the roads of Assam on a quest to belong: sometimes on foot, other times on the roof of a bus with vagabond musicians surrounding me. The best of all is when I am on a boat in the heart of the majestic Brahmaputra, trying to digest its enormous glory. I lie back on the boat and breathe. The sun is mellow.

Though you may break, music will build you. When I return to my room on days that feel like they would not end and the thought of tomorrow feels like a task, I lie on my bed and switch on Celeste (my aqua-blue Boat headphones). The faraway calls of the intro of “Don’t Wanna Cry” by Seventeen seeps into my soul. In my head, I am now under the midnight-blue starry night skies on a meadow. I do not feel chilly, only fresh, as the evening breeze brushes through my loose hair. As the song develops into its heart of a chorus, I watch a slow-motion montage in my head, directed by the music, playing in my mind’s eyes. I turn my head to look beside me and I see Kalpana, my childhood best friend smiling back at me. She chose to stay back in my childhood, and obliging, I left her, but she is still vivid in my memory, and so she is, too, in my montage. She is in a summer dress, white with flower patterns on it, her skin fair and radiant like the moon. A Kanchi (Nepali woman) with the most adorable smile. I flay my arms and start running across the grass, Kalpana following suit. Our laughter reverberates in my ears, like an old gramophone playing my memories. I don’t feel so tired anymore. 

Music pours into my soul, seeping into corners that need healing and I am alive again for tomorrow.