During the course of my postings in different places of the country, I was in Sibsagar, which is very important town in the upper Assam.
It was once upon a time the capital of Ahom Kings who entered the Assam from Myanmar. They established their capital first in a place called Cheraideo which is nearby Sibsagar. Sibsagar itself was established by the Ahom king Shiv Singh. All around Sibsagar you will see many temples called Dols and Lakes which reminds you about the times of Ahoms.
From this land of mystery and pristine natural beauty hails the most original composer known by the name Bhupen Hazarika. Long back I purchased a music cassette of the songs sung by Bhupen Hazarika which had been rendered in Hindi.
Songs were written in original Assamese language by Dr.Hazarika and were translated by poet Gulzar. Dr.Hazarika has a unique voice and the music is heavenly and imagining that the musician is from a place which is totally isolated and not well off economically than rest of the India, one can simply say that music is the God’s gift. Dr.Hazarika is the most original creator of the music.
He write the poetry which encompasses the pathetic condition of the poor masses who are suppressed by the affluent and powerful and used for their own purpose from centuries. They are living the life of slavery.
In one of the songs from that Album “Dola he Dola”, this sentiment of helplessness is expressed by the oppressed who are the bearers of the palanquin of the mighty king. There is stark contrast between the living condition of the oppressor and oppressed.
They are exhorting one another to be very careful while treading the path else if one of them slips and king falls their heads will roll. While the king is sitting inside the silky cocoon, these people have not seen the proper piece of cloth on their bodies be it winter, rain or heat. The song is really heart rending.
His music is entrenched in the milieu of Assam with tea gardens and women working there, natural beauty, festivals like Bihu. Although he has traveled a lot. I saw him on local channel attending functions in Sibsagar. He has become a father figure in Assam.
He got his chance to broadcast his music to world from Calcutta. He is equally at ease in Bengali and Hindi as in his mother tongue. Though I can’t speak or write in Bengali or Assamese, but I can follow these languages. And I thoroughly enjoy his songs rendered in multiple languages.
The song about Jugnu and Lachhmi, the husband and wife, working as laborers in tea garden called Ratanpur is very beautiful and graphical in nature. Whether this Ratanpur really exists or not like Malgudi the fictitious place in R.K.Narayan’s writing, I am not sure. I tried to ask from my friends from Assam but they seem to be unaware. Many of them even did not know that Hazarika was born in Sadia.
Then there is another song in which metaphor of river Ganga is used for woman. He is exhorting the river, who is supposed to wash away the sins of others, to cleanse the system which is reeking with conceit. He complains why otherwise she is flowing and not feeling ashamed. Has she become so indifferent?