Tabla is a percussion instrument that originated in India; it consists of a pair of drums, one sweet and melodic, and the other deep and heavy. If they are played together correctly, one would quickly discover how one drum balances out the other drum.
Hindu songs commonly use tablas, along with several other instruments, to create a loud and free-spirited timbre. When my dad first immigrated to America in 1986, the two drums would take up too much space in his two carry-ons, so he could not bring the tabla.
Five years later, when he returned to Bangladesh to marry my mother, he purchased a brand new set of tablas with the funds from his various odd jobs back in America. Although he could not return to America with my mother, at least he had a brand new set of drums.
The tabla has been in my family for generations. My father had learned to play the tabla from his four elder brothers and his father, so it is no surprise that my brother and I were expected to follow in his footsteps.
Even though a new set was purchased, I still pass by the same tabla set that my dad brought to America many ago. The tabla now sits as decoration in my living-room, towering over many other objects in the showcase. Although it wasn’t the same tabla set passed down in my family, it was the knowledge and skill of playing the instrument that was passed down. The knowledge of playing the tabla will continue to be passed down for many generations to come.
– Rahul Debnath