BY BISTIRNA BARUA
Music maestro Bhupen Hazarika, with all his erudite understanding of world music and folk cultures, once categorically remarked that Assamese lullabies are the best in the world and its melodic content can be compared to the finest classical masterpieces. Growing up in Assam, where music and melody is a constant presence, it goes without saying that our lullabies have helped propagate this musical tradition, by introducing a sense of melody to our kids and also more importantly introducing them to the pleasure of listening.
My mom is a singer, though she never did it professionally, she has always been a singer inside. Hence it has been a true bonus for me to grow up in a house that hummed with tunes. My father too an avid Bhupen Mama fan only added fuel to this fire, that was burning within. But if someone were to ask me, what exactly turned this switch that we all have inside us, waiting to be pushed on, to make us feel passionately about some art form, and in this case for me: music, I would say they were my mother’s lullabies.
Those were the days where there were no cable networks to keep us enchanted 24×7, and those were the nights where the darkness, the fluid darkness of semi forgotten places, were not dimmed by the light stemming out of powerful inverters. On nights like these I remember my mother singing that wonderful lullaby, a song addressed to Lord Krishna about a mother’s desire to see her infant close by, to feel him near, to keep him safe. It is still, one of my favourite pieces of music and it goes like these
Shyam kanu duroi hoi nejaba
Xunor bongxi gorhai thoisu
Aanor basa dangor dighol
Aamar basa xoru
Poncho-to boyoxot tumi
Sorai sila goru.
Loosely translated it becomes
O Krishna, don’t you go far away,
I have got a golden bansuri for you
Come, sit and play.
Other kids have all grown up,
My son is still so young.
But it is he, who aged a paltry five
Herds those cows, so strong.
The next lullaby, was also something I heard from my mother. This song too has also left an inedible mark on my senses. This song has made me feel wanting to grow up soon, as if someone was waiting for me, on the other side of adulthood, that Bogori’s were waiting for me to devour them. This song is as much a lullaby, as it is a song of awakening for me, somehow. As if sleep is but just a milepost on the way to that desired destination of self-actualization. The song goes something like this
Aamare moina xubo ae
Barite bogori rubo ae
Barire bogori poki xori jabo
Moinaeai butoli khaboeai
Loosely translated it means,
My little one, drifts into sleep now
In the garden, he plants berry plants now.
The berries will ripen and fall one day
And my little one will relish them all away.
These lullabies still gives me the jitters when I hear them. As if I can feel my mother, her wet hands on a humid day, on my forehead; beautifully, aesthetically putting my unruly mop of hair in its due place. Her voice drifting in and out, via windows in the house of sleep. Her smell, that beautiful smell of wet hair, turmeric fingers, ponds talcum powder all meeting in unison, to create a juxtaposition of a image-scape that I somehow seek, unknowingly in all women I see (quite unfairly too, I admit).
When I hear these lullabies, something in me changes almost immediately. As if I find a succour amidst all my chaos. As if times stops to say hello. I still feel them in my bones, that they are being sung for me. I guess all axomiya’s do, that’s how we develop a personal contact with these melodies, of we becoming a part of them and they becoming an undeniable part of us. For me, personally my mother becomes the song. And I, a hypnotized listener waiting for a bolt of truth to strike me and tell me: that within us grown-ups, lives a kid. And all we really need, is a lullaby to wake up from our slumbers of adulthood.