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water people (kandiya akul hoilum⁺) (nadhi kara oram*)


⁺ bangla: 'কান্দিয়া আকুল হইলাম

* tamil: நதி கரையோரம்

Originally written by poet Idom Shah and popularized by Ranen Roychowdhury, this Bengali Bhatiyali folk song speaks of finally arriving to the shore of a river, but not knowing how one will cross; there is a boat, but no boatman. I met this song when my friend, Nithya Raman, asked if I would sing for her inauguration as City Councilwoman in LA-- a historic win, where she inspired more people to vote than ever before. She loved this song, so I learnt it, and carefully translated it to our mother tongue, Tamil, as you may notice I feel called to often.

A song is like a gift for me. A painting that you love, once you hand it to me, I will carefully trace it, and return the original back to you, forever carrying the traced image in my heart. In Tamil, the song cries the same cry:

what do you do when those who were meant to take care of you have forsaken you? 

I sing "elo, elelo" which means "push, pull"— it is the sound of riverpeople rowing. In this way, I connect both languages through the sound of movement in water. When Nithya asked me to sing a song, I wanted to sing the sound of a movement— political reform, of balance between the push and the pull, of floating together, of moving together. I hope the sound of my voice will help you float on a day you need help.

You may hear a bass. This is me playing. It is a very recent practice. A Sister-Friend-Teacher who I live near in the rural mountains of the Northwest handed me her bass on her birthday. I played it for seven days, and this is one of the songs that came from those days. More soon. 

With immense love, 


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