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Showering in the rain of melody – Mohan Singh and wife Suchismita

2 June, 2020 02:04:53
Showering in the rain of melody – Mohan Singh and wife Suchismita

Suchismita left for her heavenly abode years ago. It was she who taught him Bengali and discovered the various facets of this introvert youth. Their love affair transcended the physical boundaries of Santiniketan’s red laterite soil paths, the vast deserted fields, the tree-lined avenues, Sonajhuri, Lalbandh… washed by the soft rays of the full moon… into oblivion. Rabindranath had written in a poem, “Jabar diney ei kothati bolay jeno jaai/ Ja dekhechi, jaa peyechhi, tulona taar naai/ Ei jyoti samudra majhe Je shatadal padma raaje/ Taari modhu paan korechhi, dhanya aami taai (On the day of my departure, I want to proclaim/ Whatever I have witnessed, whatever I have received/ Is an immense gift that cannot be compared with anything/ Amid this vast ocean of enlightenment/ The lotus that reigns in the midst, I have had the opportunity to suck the nectar of life from it and hence a thousand times blessed am I.) .

There is the vast chasm between what we see and what we achieve in this life and loved ones like Sumu remain ensconced within forever. 

The green signal becomes visible from Lal Bandh. A sandstorm of memories come rushing from the vast, vacant stretch of land. A minstrel walks past the dusty narrow village roads, strumming his Ektara and humming intently, unmindful of the surrounding. His music travels far and wide and nudges the somber avenue of Sonajhuri, urging nature to wake up and respond.  Dawn is approaching fast.  The restless strains of Thaat Bhairavi seems to intrude the solemn strains of Bhakti and express itself in the myriad melodies of Dhrupad and Thumri as it moulds itself with the rising sun and takes a definite shape. Meanwhile, Mohan Singh, the pious devotee, awaits under the open sky with his offering of all the ragas and raginis. This is the realm of the birds who sing inpour their full heart in “profuse strains of unpremeditated art.”

Once Sri Ramakrishna Dev said, “One succulent mango quenches my yearning and I am satisfied. Why should I burden myself with useless worries about the number of mango trees the owner has or the amount of yield he has annually?” His words are very apt indeed. But one has to keep in mind the fact that all mangoes are not of the same quality and cannot be consumed in the same manner. Not all qualities have a similar satisfying effect that one or two particularly superior quality has for instance, there is a particular type of mango that grows in Murshidabad which needs to be soaked in water for at least 10 to 12 hours before it is fit for consumption. Another quality of mango has to be laid on soft cotton while chopping to get the best taste. Similarly, each raga allows itself to be presented in a distinct way by each singer and with the performer’s interpretation the Bhava (emotion) undergoes changes as Rabindranath himself said, “Ekaki gayoker nahiko gaan, gahite hobay duijone/ Ekjona gaabe chhariya gola, aar jona gaabe monay (A song doesn’t express the voice of the singer alone, it has to be delivered in unison/ One will perform aloud and the other will sing within). This is the external expression of the Bhava. One will sing aloud and the other will sing along within. When a state of harmony is reached, Sur or swara (the musical notes) will flow mellifluously. 

Mohan Singh presents his melodious offerings euphoniously as a smile of contentment plays on his lips. The vast world of myriad ragas and raginis seem to knock at his door, all willing to undertake the dulcet journey with him.  He gets lost in a world where he sees his friend, Ramkinkar Baij rallying him. Ritwik Ghatak takes him out in the open at night to soak in full moonlight. Kanika Bandopadhyay seems to smile and tease him saying, “So? How did I pull this one? You had to stay back in Santiniketan after all. You will not be able to go anywhere else. You will be stuck to Santiniketan for ever now.” Ustadji comes in seclusion. Shantidev Ghosh  traverses a long path and stands before  him. Suchishmita appears with a copy of Rabindranath’s Sahaj Paath and hands it over to Mohan with a smile illuminating her countenance. Vikram walks in singing a Rabindrasangeet just as his younger sibling, Abeer accompanies him on the Esraj.

This is a strange world, a world where Time and Mahakaal (the highest dimension, the ultimate destroyer, beyond the human concept of time) dispense the winner’s trophy to indomitable spirits like Mohan Singh . And all that is left as residue is a brilliant collage of fragmented memories held together by the interplay of swara (musical notes). That is the be-all and the end-all of a musical universe.

Transcribed from an original interview of Mohan Singh Khangura taken by Arpita Chatterjee

Story Tag:
  • Mohan Singh Khangura,Shantiniketan

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