Art, Culture and Aesthetics

Musings on Rabindranath Tagore – 2: In my private seclusion

The second monsoon has hit Uganda and temperatures have suddenly plummeted. I can’t describe how pleasant and beautiful it is. The early mornings in particular have this unusual translucent quality and the nights are deep and still, broken only by the occasional waft of the cool monsoon winds, call of the occasional night bird and the chirping of countless insects.

I am reminded of Tagore’s

আমার নিশীথরাতের বাদলধারা, এসো হে গোপনে
আমার স্বপনলোকে দিশাহারা ॥
ওগো অন্ধকারের অন্তরধন, দাও ঢেকে মোর পরান মন –
আমি চাই নে তপন, চাই নে তারা ॥
যখন সবাই মগন ঘুমের ঘোরে নিয়ো গো, নিয়ো গো,
আমার ঘুম নিয়ো গো হরণ করে ।
একলা ঘরে চুপে চুপে এসো কেবল সুরের রূপে –
দিয়ো গো, দিয়ো গো,
আমার চোখের জলের দিয়ো সাড়া ॥

Come to me in my private seclusion
The downpour of my dark night
Come to me unbridled
In the realm of my dreams

O my innermost treasure,
In the depth of my darkness
Wrap me up, my heart and soul
For now I seek not the sun, nor the stars

The hour when the rest of the world is deep in sleep
Take away my sleep, rob me of my repose
Come to me in my private chamber
Come to me in the strains of a melody

Respond, O do respond I beseech
To the plaintive call of my tears

(Translation: Shumon Sengupta)

The core message of the song, the key to the song in my view lies in the last two lines ..

দিয়ো গো, দিয়ো গো,
আমার চোখের জলের দিয়ো সাড়া ॥

Respond, O do respond I beseech
To the plaintive call of my tears

The quest, the call of the soul is so beautifully expressed in the simple words দিয়ো গো, দিয়ো গো .. দিয়ো সাড়া! The intense yearning, the pain, the desperate ‘reaching out’ is so beautifully expressed in the simple, yet exquisite and heart wrenching melody.

Who else, but Tagore could have pulled this off so elegantly!

And now, something about the artist and this particular album would be in order.

Sahana Bajpaie has this unusual tonal quality to her voice, which is husky, heady and melodious at the same time. She has a straightforward, unadorned style of rendition, stripped of any excesses or mannerisms, but imbued with an emotional intensity that is at the same time, refreshingly understated.

The soul stirring, haunting quality of her voice makes me think that this song was composed by Tagore especially for her. Sahana’s style is truly very original and unique.

This particular album, in my view, is one of the most successful and sensitive experiments I have come across, in the area of instrumentation in Rabindrasangeet. Arnob has surpassed himself in this.

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Secluded  Melancholy of the Mid-Day

The melancholy that goes with the solitude of the empty and quite midday is captured so well in this song. Tagore for that matter has given us Bengalis songs for all possible situations, occasions, moods and emotional states.

I don’t know if there is any other poet in the world who has wielded such immense power – the power of reaching straight into the innermost recesses of the human psyche, as Tagore has done with Bengalis.

And there couldn’t have been a better artist to render this song. Check out, in particular, how the legendary Suchitra Mitra sings “কোন্ বেদনার মায়া স্বপ্নাভাসে ভাসে মনে-মনে’ …” No other artist, in my view, could have brought out the intense bitter-sweet pathos of this song so well.

We receive music through our ears. But beyond that, if you tune your mind, you can actually hear the unuttered sigh, all through this song. After all, we receive great music not through our ears, but through the window of our minds.

মধ্যদিনের বিজন বাতায়নে
ক্লান্তি-ভরা কোন্‌ বেদনার মায়া   স্বপ্নাভাসে ভাসে মনে-মনে॥
কৈশোরে যে সলাজ কানাকানি   খুঁজেছিল প্রথম প্রেমের বাণী
আজ কেন তাই তপ্ত হাওয়ায় হাওয়ায়   মর্মরিছে গহন বনে বনে॥
যে নৈরাশা গভীর অশ্রুজলে   ডুবেছিল বিস্মরণের তলে
আজ কেন সেই বনযূথীর বাসে   উচ্ছ্বসিল মধুর নিশ্বাসে,
সারাবেলা চাঁপার ছায়ায় ছায়ায়   গুঞ্জরিয়া ওঠে ক্ষণে ক্ষণে॥

I am sharing a very good English translation of this song by Rumela Sengupta (http://gitabitan-en.blogspot.com/2011/…/quiet-afternoon.html).

A quiet afternoon
Beside a secluded window
A twinge of an old ache
Flits into my thoughts like a dream

Afloat a sultry breeze
Today in deep woods resonate
Bashful whispers of youth
Eager to hear first love’s first words

Disappointment
That had sunk into oblivion
Beneath the deluge of my tears
Why does it softly sigh today
Stirred by the scent of wild jasmine
Why does it resonate all day
In gentle shades of the Champak

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