The landline rings. I do not stir. Let some one else respond. The phone is shrill and insistent. ” Are you turning deaf too, to add to my travails? ” The missus is hobbling out of the kitchen.
I shrug wearily and claw my way out of the deep black hole, within which I have been wallowing for the past many days pitying myself and cursing the morass I have dropped into. Not that I have I have been sitting idle. I have attended a course on The Bhagavat Gita for quite a few weeks, I have been practising alaap of a few new ragas. And have started to play a few notes every now and then on my old flute.And desultorily trying to read once again forgotten belle letterres like Rubaiyats of Omar Khayam, ( Edward FitzGerald and The Great Gatsby by Scott Fitzgerald..
It is Ammanni on the phone, my elder sister, She has a kindly, sweet , soothing and effervescent voice. A beautiful sharp voice. When she sings, ‘ Manasuna Mallela Malaloogene”, it is Bhanumathi. When she sings, ‘ yeh zindagi useeki hai”, it is veritably vintage Lata, and again when she sings, ‘ Ranjish hee sahee.”, it is, well Anuradha Paudwal or Roona Laila depending on her choice, her shruti is sharper, you see. She is now-a-days troubled by a heart condition, but when I enquire how she was, the reply invariably, is a sprightly, ” Never been better.” Always.
But now I find her tone a bit subdued. I enquire what the matter was. ” Have you read the news?. Mehdi Hasan is no more.”. No, I have stopped reading the news paper, more than a fortnight ago and stopped touching the iPad since more than week.
So the great crooner of sweet Ghazals is no more. The Baadshah-e-husn, The Husn-e-Zahaan lives on.
In fact, I have been intending to write a great post on him ever since I have read a few weeks ago that he was seriously ill and that plans were afoot to bring him to India and his beloved Rajastan for treatment.
I lift myself up, rummage into my hopelessly unwieldy collection of cassettes, and CDs and fish out, ‘Mehdi Hassan Live’, a casette album I purchased in the early nineteen seventies, and play it on my old Panasonic portable stereo cassette recorder/player.
The first of the songs is ‘Ranjish hee sahee.’, a song which epitomizes the longing of a lost soul for his Kesariya Balam.
My love for the beautiful voice grew,’Rafta Rafta” since I bought the casette forty years ago, I have now also a mp3 CD of forty of his melodies which I have copied onto my iPod. Of course I have a few casettes by Talat Aziz, Anuradha Paudwal and Runa Laila, re-rendering Mehdiji’s Gazals. When I say his gazals, I mean his literally,, since he had the knack of lifting even a most mundane or maudlin sentiment into sublime levels through his soulful rendering of them. Ab to hum bicchde to ……….