The old man is seriously ill.He is fidgeting restlessly on his cot, his chest heaving and falling, heaving and falling. He calls out to the young man, ” Pyaare!”
The young man rushes to his baba. Sits on the cot, and asks,”Baba?”
“How can I tell you ,my son. “, the old man gasps,” Just as the night seems to recede relentlessly, my heart is ebbing away slowly and surely. I do not hope to survive this night.”
Tears well up in the young man’s eyes. He cries out in anguish,” Don’t talk like that, baba. You will be well. Now let me bring you, your medicine.” he tries to rise. The old man holds on to his hand and says,”Son, it is no more time for medicine. It is time for bowing before The Lord to seek His the grace. Of what avail will medicine be, at this stage for me.”
“Baba, don’t speak like that, baba. I have spent the whole night crying for you.I am getting afraid. It’s darkness and more darkness all around me. You are the only source of any brightness. It is soon getting to be dawn soon. But there seems to be no ray of hope for me.I am totally enervated.”
The young man has bravely withstood taunts of everyone since his early childhood that he was schwarz and ugly. He was occasionally angry, but has borne all those barbs. if not cheerfully, at least stoically. He learnt to bear pain, suffering and ill-luck bravely and squarely, all because he had his baba by his side all through.Now baba is ill. He shudders to think of life, if baba were to leave him now. God forbid.
He doesn’t yet know that baba was in fact not his biological father and that his vain, real father disgusted at the ugly looks of his new born child, gave him away, without even the knowledge of the mother, to this old man.
The old man says, “Son, I hear the call for prayers.”
” Papa. Forget it. Prayers, and by you, in your condition! ”
” Son,I know. For an artist, the reading of The Book, the prayers, the peal of temple bells, the call of the muezzin all form part of his music, yes his music.”, the old man says.
The young man takes the cue. He grabs his Tanpura and sits down on the carpet and starts to croon,- in the morning raga of hope, Chakravakam (Ahir Bharavi.).But despite his brave efforts, his own despair insists on seeping through the notes.
“Ask me not, how this mournful night has dragged on for me,
Every second passes as though it were an eon.
Eons have passed but not a soothing wink for me.
This lamp burns. And ,my mind too, burns bright.
Yet, the gloom that pervades my abode refuses to leave.
Restless, thirsty, have I spent all my life.
There is no moon, neither is there the sun for me.
My wretched eyes crave for light
Even dawn hasn’t brought me a ray of hope.”
The young man opens his wet eyes and looks at his beloved baba.
He is limp.The lamp which flickered behind him has gone out.
This poignant scene is from the 1963 movie, “Teri surat meri ankhen,”, featuring the l late thespian Ashok Kumar in the role of Pyaare.
Every time I listen to this great lyric by Shailendra and set to music by the great music director, Sachin Dev Burman and rendered in such gut-wrenching manner by Manna Dey, tears do not fail to well up in my eyes.
Manna Dey, born on 1st May,1919, still performs live, now and then in some concerts, regaling his fans with his great songs in his velvetty voice rendered sweeter by the solid grounding he had in classical music. May God grant him many more years of delightful service to the Muse of Learning.
I have copied the original Hindi lyric below.
“Puchho na kaise maine rine bitayee.
Ik pal jaise ik yug bita
Yug bite mohe neend na aayee
Ik jale deepak ik man meraa
Phir bhi naa jaaye mere ghar ka andheraa
Tadpat tarsat umar gavaayee.
Na kahin chanda na kahin taare
Jyot ke pyaase mere nain bichaare
Bhor bhi aas ki kiran na laayee.”Advertisements
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