I remember the exact moment I discovered you. The exact date. 19th May 2014. I was in Kota. It was early morning. I had gotten some calls. My parents, calling to sing “Happy Birthday” to me, surprised that I was up so early.
I hadn’t slept all night.
There was an exam the day before. And my parents would get the results via a text later that day. The thought of it hadn’t let me rest for a moment. I had about a thousand songs in my feature phone, the only things keeping me company through the night. I wouldn’t stop the music. I couldn’t. Or else my mind would start speaking. Screaming. Telling me what a waste of space I was. How dad will feel when he gets the message. What I should do with myself. I had to quiet my head. Music was one of the kinder ways to do so.
I snuck out of my hostel. There was a railway station close to my room. Close enough that the trumpeting of the 6 A.M. local used to wake up all my hostel-mates. No one would know I was gone till then. Eventually I grew tired of pacing around the platforms. I collapsed under the “Dakania Talav” Station sign, music still blaring in my ears. I wondered if the homeless man sleeping next to me was happier than I was. I was not sure what the answer was. I was not sure if I wanted to know. At least I had music.
I was running out of songs. Must’ve listened to each of the thousand a thousand times. But I couldn’t stop the music. Suddenly all the lights cut off. It was so dark. I closed my eyes, but there was no sleep, and I could feel a train coming, the headlight the only thing cutting through the black of the night. The vibrations, the only sign of life. The light seemed so inviting. I was tired. I just wanted to rest. Maybe the light could help me. I stood up. I had to do something quick, for I had run out of music.
I checked the time on my phone. It was almost 6, and the train was almost here. This place was about to be very crowded. I needed new music. I rushed back to my hostel, and to the rooftop I went, 5 stories up. The terrace was my little corner of the world. No one came here, as it was a bit too slanted, and there were no guard rails. No one could see me from here. I could see it all. The city seemed so empty 6 o’clock in the morning. So lifeless. How could one survive here? I needed new music, but I had only enough data for one song, so I downloaded the first song to catch my eye: “Lose Yourself to Dance”. I wish.
4 minutes later, I touched my face. There was a tear and an actual smile on it.
And now the sun was coming up, hot the moment it peeked over the early morning mist. I took off my headphones and was immediately overwhelmed with the cacophony of birdsongs. I turned around and saw this beautiful murmuration over the abandoned factory across the station. The 6 A.M local had arrived, and the platforms were swarming with people going to their jobs. The sweetshops were opening, and I went there. It was my birthday after all.
I had poha and jalebis, and a data pack for my mobile. This was my birthday gift; data packs used to be expensive back then. On my way back I had already downloaded the album I just Discovered. Random Access Memories. I half-danced my way back to my room, and it didn’t feel as suffocating as it did the nights before. Every song felt like a salve for my soul. I danced in my room, alone, but not lonely, for I had lost myself to dance. Finally exhausted, I slept on my bed.
It had never felt softer.
I woke up to my parents calling me on my phone. They had gotten the exam results, and although they tried not to show, I could still feel their disappointment. But your music had given me hope; things can get better.
Years later, they have, and I’m still as much in love with you as the day I found you.
I wouldn’t have made it this far if not for you, Daft Punk. You Gave Life Back to Music, and your music gave life back to me. I Got Lucky that I found you when I did. I discovered more of you, from Random Access Memories, to Discovery, to Human After All, to Alive, and Beyond. I discovered that you rarely released new music, 4 albums in 28 years. Yet, that was enough. I could listen to you endlessly. But now a new album was Beyond due, and I waited. Waited as 2020 came and went. Clinging to any rumor of a new album, full of the hope that you gave me.
So when a friend texted me last night — “Daft Punk” — I found my heart racing. Was it finally here? I googled your name. First result : “Daft Punk Break Up”, second : Epilogue. Last night, I understood what it means to have a broken heart.
I have escaped to you so many times; you were my light in the dark. Over the years, I had formed a Pavlovian connection to your music. Daft Punk meant joy to me. It meant life itself. And although you’re gone now, your timeless music will live on for generations to come. And you’ll always be my best birthday gift ever.
Je vous aime, et Je vous aimerai toujours.