Love for music is innate in me, music makes me feel complete!
Usually, after coming from office, I turn on my TV. It’s not that I seat and watch the shows, but I keep my ears open so that I am aware of what’s going on in my home town. That day also, I did the same, and suddenly one of the local TV channels drew my attention. The channel was telecasting the celebration of Rabha Divas – the death anniversary celebration of Bishnu Prasad Rabha, the legendary cultural icon of Assam.
I can’t remember the name of the show exactly. But, it showed some eminent singers of Assam who made a humble effort to perform the immortal numbers created by Bishnu Prasad Rabha.
Don’t know what happened to me…but immediately, my mind flew back! The TV show acted as a catalyst. It made me recollect those days when my Maa had made a serious effort to make us (me and my sister) aware of the folk songs of the region and learn to sing. I recollect, I too made a naïve attempt at singing Rabha Sangeet – the immortal creations of Kolaguru Bishnu Prasad Rabha.
Reminiscence in progress!
I had an innate longing for music, in addition to Maa’s insistence that we should learn these folk songs. So, the learning process started. Initially, we had learnt from our cousins and family friends who had some formal training in music and performed at school and college shows.
We grew up and my longing for music also grew. I became more interested in learning different types of folk songs and expressed my interest to get enrolled in a music school, and pursue music formally.
I can’t remember why I was not sent to music school. But, I remember, Maa managed to fulfill my dream of pursuing music with the help of a music teacher.
Yes, my music teacher was none other than our dearest ‘Bishnu da’ who was our tenant long ago. Bishnu da was a radio artist and quite popular among my friends. His performance of lokageets were broadcasted in All India Radio’s Dibrugarh, Centre. So, it was a matter of pride for me that I was learning music from him!
A genius he was – not only in music, but also in every single sphere of life. I still remember, Maa often used to say that we needed to learn a lot of things from him. Honesty, dedication, hardworking – these were some of the adjectives that we often heard our parents using to define him.
Well, Bishnu da used to come home after completing his college hours (he was studying in Majuli College then) and teach me the evergreen songs like Logon Ukoli Gol, Parajanamor Xubhologonor etc. by Bishnu Prasad Rabha coupled with Borgeet and Lokageets. It was Bishnu da who helped me widen my horizon of Assamese folk songs including Borgeet, Lokageet, Kamrupia Lokageet, Jyoti Sangeet, Rabha Sangeet, Adhunik Geet etc.
No doubt, I started to learn music with great enthusiasm and dedication. But, I could not carry it with the same spirit. There came a stumbling block – my formal education. Without being aware of, my direction changed and my connection to the world of music became shaky. I could not give time. Now, I feel, I chose the road “travelled by all”, not the one “less travelled” by! I succumbed to the demands of the mainstream, music became secondary.
With the course of time, my approach to music also changed. The transition was from “learning” to “listening”. I completed my school education and got enrolled in a college far away from my home. A new life stated in a new place, and music became my sole companion – an escape to deal with homesickness and loneliness. The Walkman and the customized cassettes filled with my favorite songs became an integral part of hostel life in Cotton College. I became more addicted to listening songs of different types and genres.
Time flies! First, I left home for higher studies and then my hometown to start a new chapter. The boat of life took its destined direction. My childhood spent in the river island, desire to pursue singing, the music classes by Bishnu da and many more things turned into unseen leaves of memory.
Well, I need to pause here. I will miss out the connection of this post, if I dig further into my childhood.
Yes, I started with “Rabha Divas”.
I tried searching for Bishnu da (my music teacher) immediately after the TV show. But, all my efforts went in vain. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube – none of the social media sites could give me any clue of him. I was disappointe. I thought of trying for the last time. This time, I made a simple Google search with his name and the keyword Majuli – the world’s largest river island. Yes! I COULD FIND HIM along with a couple of his photographs. The only site that could provide me with substantial information about his identity as a folk singer based in Majuli was the British Library website. To my utter surprise, the British Library has collected one of his songs in the section called “Music from India”.
I was dumfounded! I could not believe my ear when I played the recording published by the British Library. I heard his voice for the second time in life… a voice so unique, a voice so innocent and untouched by modern day marketing… a voice the world must hear!