Shooting stars are ephemeral. One moment they are there and the next they disappear from our line of vision, sometimes forever, leaving us to marvel at their beauty for whatever duration they appeared and keep it in our memory as a moment of joy.
Rahul Rai was one such star, brilliantly bright, illuminating the world of each of those who knew him. It was easy to be awestruck by his work, that mesmerizing quality that struck us as ethereal. But the fact of the matter is that he will sing no more; and we are left bereft at this loss.
As we write this, we are caught in a dilemma, whether to personify a shooting star and give it his name or to refer him as one. Well, we went with the second one. For the fact is that for whatever time he was with us, he chose to work on what he really aspired to be. He was a shooting star in human form, with us for a limited time, but ah, what a glorious time!
Born on the 14th day of October in 1989 in Kolkata to Padma and Nayan Kumar Rai, this young boy was the first child in the family. He was an ordinary boy with a strong attachment and dedication to his passion, music.
In 1992 he was enrolled in Mount Carmel School, Namchi, where he underwent his preliminary schooling from kindergarten to 4th standard. After this he shifted to Bangalore to live with his maternal uncle to continue his schooling. It was during this time that he developed his taste in music. Haunted by a musical drive within, he bunked classes and joined his friends at musical hangouts which led to numerous complaints from his teachers. But his love for music burned steadily within him, for as the saying goes, “We are not born with passion, we develop it as we grow.”
He had himself inherited his musical traits from his maternal family. Growing up he had watched his grandfather, a musician in his own right, play the violin and the harmonium. “He was very fond of his grandfather and took advice from him regularly,” says a friend. His mother and uncle were also musically inclined and as the young boy matured among these talents, he came to have a musical voice of his own. He started strumming at an early age.
After he completed his middle school he returned to his hometown, Namchi, and joined New Light Academy, wherefrom he completed his schooling. It was during this period that he and his friends came up with an amateur band, “Dream Diabolic” in the heavy metal genre. The band did well and they achieved numerous successes. They won the regional level interschool event “Rock-o-phoenic” Conducted at the Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati in the year 2009. They also won the title of “Regional Campus Rock Idol”.
Schooling over, he joined Government College Namchi, Kamrang, where he decided that he wanted to establish a career in music. But by then “Dream Diabolic” had already disbanded. He dropped out of the college in the second year and enrolled in Sikkim University where he began to pursue a course in music. It was also during this time that he stopped performing heavy metal songs as prescribed by his mother and started working on his own musical style in the Nepali language. He began composing too. “When he came home for the holidays, he used to sit on the top of a tank (near his home) composing songs and would often ask me to fill in words for his songs,” his mother says. During this period he and his mates came together to form a new band which they named “Tribal Rain.” In the beginning the band members included Namgyal, Asish, Mingma, Abinesh, Biren, Bishal, Yowan and Rahul himself as the vocalist. Slowly the composition of the band changed with Kenneth Adhikari on keyboard, Prawes Lama on guitars, Sushant Ghatani on Cajon and Rahul Rai on vocals/guitars. The band considered its genre freestyle acoustic experimental. Tribal rain released three singles: “Chinta” which was their debut single, followed by “Bhanaai” and “Narisawna”.
Among the three, “Bhanaai” created maximum impact, and was one of the most popular songs among people in Nepal Sikkim. These songs enhanced the reputation of the band and soon they had a strong fan following who created numerous cover versions of their songs uploaded them on YouTube and other social media platforms. The band then came up with their first album “Roka Yo Samay” with another album “devi-dewta” in the pipelines.
Rahul was a talented and dedicated musician who gave us a number of musical marvels; his gifts to us, so to speak. As we have lost this star, this beautiful flame is extinguished. But the memory of his light remains in our hearts in the form of his voice and compositions.
“I am still waiting for my son. I still feel that he isn’t gone, but he will come home after 15-20 days,” says his bereaved mother quite unable to grasp that this light of her life is no more.
Rest in Peace Rahul. We are sorry you had to go through so much inner trauma that you decided that life wasn’t worth living anymore. Such is life. Many candles die out having lit up the world for others. You were one of ours. We pray that you find the peace you longed for so much. This is our homage to you.
CLICK HERE TO VISIT THE TRIBAL RAIN CHANNEL IN YOUTUBE
(Story by Anupam Sharma, Pranesh Chettri and Karishma Sharma for WSOS with inputs from Rahul’s family members and bandmates.)