By the grace of her voice

It’s 5:00 AM. I wish I slept two more hours in this comfortable bed that is hosting me for a night.

I arrived the day before in Rennes, a French city that is very dear to my heart, for many reasons. But that is for another day, if ever. I enjoyed my evening in the city. I strolled by the lively and beautiful streets of its downtown and had a nice meal at one of its restaurants, although I could have used some company.

It’s 5:00 AM and dark outside. I relinquish to switch on the light and read. Instead, I grab my phone, put on my earbuds and look for some relaxing music, in the hope it will help me wander the realm of dreams until the sun rises.

I notice one of my favourite vinyl stores sent me its weekly email, with a selection of new albums and tracks. They have a corresponding playlist, as every week, on one of the streaming platforms.

I hit play and almost instantly, I feel goosebumps all over my body. I can’t believe my ears. I look at the dimly lit screen of my phone to read the name of the track. Udhero Na. By Arooj Aftab, featuring Anoushka Shankar.

Strong emotions rush all over my body. I feel an infinite peace. Udhero Na touches me deeply. The voice. The instruments. The melancholic yet serene melody. I lack the proper words to describe what I feel, what I hear. 

I toggle repeat. And I listen. Over and over.

This music would be perfect for appreciating paintings by Edward Hopper. Paintings that wonderfully capture the past and the future in such a mesmerising way. Paintings that inhabit your heart and soul. Paintings you can never unsee. Yet, should we be deprived of emotions, of feelings, we would discard such an art, which depicts unassuming snapshots of life, finding it greatly disappointing.

If you had the opportunity to see Hopper’s New York Movie, which he painted in 1939, while listening to Udhero Na, you would understand what I’m trying to convey.

It’s 7:00 AM. I went back to sleep without noticing. The sun is shining and I can hear birds singing. Or is that Arooj whispering in my ear?