Remembering Bhupen Hazarika on his fourth death anniversary

BY SYED ABDUL QUAVI

An Assamese may have positioned himself anywhere on the globe but he lives a life inseparable from the music of Bhupen Hazarika. He may grow his hair like a rock star or trim it down to look like a top executive, yet when the banality of latest hits saturate his senses, he longs for solace in one of the evergreen numbers of Bhupenda. My childhood friend hogs on dokhlas made by his Gujarati wife but the music is still Bhupen Hazarika as he zoomed me around all buckled up on the autobahns. The dilemma of the Assamese is that he is too much possessive about his mother tongue, few may not have had the opportunity to appreciate the works of Lakshminath Bezbaruah and other great writers from Assam but Bhupen Hazarika is the closest he has to Assamese literature. So he sings and quote Bhupenda as if the words are his own, no matter how out of tune and far from the context he maybe at times- he takes to it, like an Englishman goes for Shakespeare or Milton.

Being an Assamese I am not remove from this syndrome, I had my own tryst with Bhupen Hazarika songs; anecdotes if complied would result in a fair size book. Whenever I catch a tune long forgotten in the mayhem of the present, myriads of glimpses would unfold in the inward eye taking me back in time to a sepia-coloured era when I did not need to care and was happy for nothing. Fact is, I need to confess here that I have come to use Bhupenda’s songs pleasantly and profitably like a time machine, hidden in the attic, away from peering eyes, I go back unnoticed and revisit sweet memories deep inside, again and again. I have a collection in a pen drive which provides the stimuli to transport myself to yesteryears. The balladeer seems to have a song carefully crafted for all occasions – happy, sad, joyful, sensual, seductive, patriotic, satirical, sarcastic, most important a set of pathetic solos for unrequited love, the experience of which I had one too many in my youthful years.

Eventually one day I finally found Juliet one early evening in Shillong assisted by “Shillongore Gudhuli” which has become my “rolling stones” ever since. Recollecting that hazy evening Bhupenda was on loudspeaker on my mobile phone and when he had reached the sultry notes of “lahe lahe endhar hol, duronire khasi gaon khon, ………auru tumi aru moi hahi hahi poriboje khuji silu pisoli” is precisely the moment the dame in hand absorbed by the beauty of a fading Khasi hamlet far away slipped on the wet grass, reached for my hand, pulled me along; laughing and rolling into my life. This followed years of courtships with short intervals in-between when I felt the affections was not duly returned, one day I SMS her an entire song in parts, substituting Potrolekha as “tumar deku kam(Nam) Sms lekha,”. “hoitu mor purona mobile number tumar monot nai……when I typed “maybe you are stealthy keeping your furor for someone else and there is nothing in you for me” the smouldering lyrics set on fire the poor maiden’s heart, she took the next bus from Jorhat to meet me 300 kms away in Guwahati. It would best be right not to discuss here how I used “Gupute Gupute” but I must say “halinota and sringkhola” decorum and discipline was set aside that day, love follows no rule, the tempest is limitless, none can overshadow the dawn so beautiful by putting around a garland of shame & pity. (moromot janu niyam thake…..Dhumuhaaa……… Prabhtok…..). Thanks to Bhupenda for articulating my feelings it sparkled my life & cheeks.

Shelley immortalized human thoughts when he said “Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought” my saddest thought flies to the time in 2005 when my mother passed away, father was long gone and I could not endure to enter the stillness of my once joyous home full of people, for hours I would sit in the verandah alone looking at an overcast sky, brother & sisters, relatives & friends all left moved far away. When from somewhere the deep voice of Bhupen Hazarika would fill in with “moi aru mor sah, …..” me and my shadow are one another’s ally, far away friends are false…………. the shadow is your true friend……I would inhale my loneliness through this lamenting number. The slow pace of Bhupenda’s voice almost reduce to a whisper compounds my desolation I snivel with no one to console me.

This is what Bhupen Hazarika does to millions of his fans with his soulful voice and compositions – he augments feelings, throttles the soul to cry out, raises the bondman to ecstasy & freedom, endears the naïve to love, encourages the bland to belong to the motherland, motivates soldiers at the frontier and over and above poke us to be human beings, emphasized in his millennium song acknowledged the world over as a masterpiece “manuha manuhar bábe , jadi he okonu nabhabe”
if man for men, spare not a thought,
then tell me O friend who else, would weep for his fellow men….
if the weak wade across the torments of life,
encouraged by you, what do you lose?

If man fails to act like a civilized being,
will savages ever act like sensible beings
and if someday savages act like humans,
will not the so called civilized come to shame.
Such powerful expression is an anthem for entire humanity, it has substance ranking the line of John Lennon’s “imagine” and “we shall over come” the most influential song of all time.
If men attempt to sell his fellow men
and if men attempts to purchase his own kind,
Thus if he tries to repeat history,
would not this be very wrong?