Prashaanth (circa 2008)

On May 13th 2008, a very sweet young man died. His name was Prashaanth Davidson and he lived just off the flyover in Lingarajapuram. He was a musician and, as a lady in his home told me, he loved his guitar more than anything. If you were to google his name you’d learn that he was “the most sought after bassist in Bangalore”. He was 31 years old.

Prashaanth came home many years ago to play bass with Konarak’s band. Wearing a blue sweatshirt, he’d occupy a tiny corner of the studio, taking up hardly any little space between the spread of the drums, all the amps and acres of wires. We talked of Joni Mitchell and planned to learn some of her tunes together (was it “Night in the City”?). Later I sent him mail asking if he had my Charlie Mingus CD. Once he wrote us in the early hours “Sorry for not being in touch…it’s so selfish of me…I love you guys from the heart”. Another time he wrote “I’ll come meet you when I get back ... if your free and in town. I’ll be getting my fretless and plan to do some serious practice in 2006.”

Anyway, the point is this: Prashaanth was an unusually kind human being with the gift of deep sensitivity. At the funeral a friend of the family spoke about him and said “Prashaanth was a very soft person. He loved small insects and animals and would watch them so intently and care about them.” All around there was a dense feeling of desolation. We had lost more than a musician. With Prashaanth, it seemed like we had also lost a feeling, an instinct, a vibe. I watched other musicians, all friends of ours, their faces at once spent, bereft, uncomprehending.

What is happening to us in Bangalore? What do we valorize and what do we so knowingly allow to slip through the cracks? In the Deccan Herald today there is news of another group of young men, dependant members of an elite club, who got into fisticuffs and beat each other to pulp. But that seems to be the order of the day. Machismo, jingoism and scrambling competitiveness. In keeping with the values we foist on young people – get ahead, climb, kill if you must, but make it, make it, make it. Make bloody what, one might well ask. Really, tell me, as a community, what do we hold valuable?

Prashaanth, who brought my daughter fishes for her tank, taught himself to play John McLaughlin’s gorgeous Belo Horizonte, made a living playing bass with different bands and was excited when our dogs littered – what place is there for him in the Bangalore that we are making? If anything, Prashaanth lacked the following – malice, aggression and a desire to “get ahead”. And that cost him. Because we’ve come to equate those qualities with survival skills and mere survival has been privileged over love, loyalty and generosity.

In an age when news is created if some people sneeze, I’d like to pay homage to Prashaanth Davidson for he embodied something on the verge of becoming vestigial in Bangalore. A gentle young man, who walked with laconic ease, equally at home eating kebabs at the corner stall or talking to a child. Unimpressed by trappings, not seeking himself to impress others, just quietly going about following his heart.

His sister told me that a host of butterflies rose up from a nearby tree as his coffin was lowered. How singularly appropriate! In church during the service, there was legend that read, “Come, let the spirit transform you.” Indeed, your spirit does transform us Prashaanth. So here’s to you. Keep practicing!

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