When you touched me, my dry branches turned out to be green
Most likely ‘Dil hoom hoom kare’ would be the only Bhupen song I listened to before his death. It was truly a gentle composition and the song incredibly touched me – its haunting tone and the apparent ease of rendering stuck my thoughts, almost five years back on a pleasing winter evening at Shilparamam, Hyderabad – when I listened to it for the first time.
It was a typical concert at an open air setting and the singer there sung it reasonably well, I remember. Back home I listened to Bhupen’s original. I was never good at Hindi and the chaste words of Gulzar were almost impregnable for the novice in me. Later, it took years for me to finally get, to some extend though, into those intoxicating lines.
Who was Bhupen for me? Frankly, yet another celebrity name from the North East, one of those ostensible legends of the Hindi speaking world in a large general context, whom south Indians never really bothered to listen or follow seriously.
Nevertheless music surpasses regional precincts and this Bhupen song too did, in class. Just a single listening – even my unsophisticated heart beat for him and I become his fan, the old man’s crunchy voice seized my awe, instantly!
On that day, that bard named Bhupen Hazarika who lived, loved and laboured for the glory of music and to the delight of his fans all across the world was totally new to me. I wasn’t aware that this song was from ‘Rudaali’. I didn’t know that the movie was directed by his soul mate and companion of 40 odd years Kalpana Lajmi, and most notably I didn’t know that the music was composed by Bhupen himself. But I knew one thing – deep stillness of meditation and a splendid energy of action merged in this classic composition.
Afterwards, as and when I listen to this four minute song, even for my naive ears his voice and music roars like a shower, springing agonizing loss, muted sorrow and a tenderness that was as moving as it was burning.
Agony stems when we lose some thing and not when we gain. Doesn’t it?
Why agony at the root of this song? Perhaps agony is fundamental to all human emotions – agony of avoidance, agony of abandonment, agony of defeat, agony of dejection, agony of hopelessness, agony of neglect, agony of every thing – every innate loss in life.
The agony of a heart that gasps in fear, that is afraid of the thundering clouds; the untold agony in tear drops that leave the eye – the very first stanza itself sets an immaculate tone for this tender melody.
And we always loved melancholy in music, I believe. Life’s lust for darkness is not simple desire for bottomless shadow; in fact it is the craving for the faintest ray of light within. In these agonizing lines one seeks a ray of light, a lustrous ray of tiny yet dazzling spark of hope.
But the root of the song lurks when the singer gloomily renders in a base pitch –
‘when I undo your bag parched leaves fell, (Teri jhori daaron, sab sukhe paat jo aaye)
but when you touch me my dry branches became green
(Tera chhua lage, meri sukhi daar hariyaaye).
And now I should keep this body (jis tan ko chua toone, us tan ko chupaaon)
(touched by you) away from every thing else,
(perhaps to keep the sanctity, that would probably be possible)
but whom am I going to show my mind that you saw’? (jis man ko laage naina, vo jisko dikhaaon)
Why? – Why do life’s wishes reach us at unexpected of the moments, in the most capricious manner? Why not in our way when we truly seek them? – when I reached out you were detached and bleak, oozing mere coldness and apathy, but in time when you touched me I turned out to be fertile and prolific. This stands true for any feat in material life. When we actually acquire the hard fought goal the feat sadly becomes, some how meaningless or redundant.
Language has the power to take one’s soul out into the night, make it soar to the stars, and then rip it apart and send it crashing right down to earth! A muted pain stirs right through the words of this song and it is this very tacit pain that haunts us long after the song.
Bhupen’s aged voice gently flows –
’oh moon you are up and high
and are divinely showering light and brightness
but your light only burns me, (o more chandra ma, teri chaandni ang jalaaye)
how am I to reach you, you are well high over the balcony
and that I have shed my wings!’ (teri oonchi ataari maine pankh liye katwaaye)
It leaves an untold soreness in our hearts.
Do we not silently chorus – ’and my heart fills with fear and gasping!!’ (dil hoom hoom kare ghabraaye)– when he finally concludes? We do. Not to mention, this composition is tough to sing, but he made it look so effortless with grace.
Visual of any splendid, snow clad peak refuses to cease from our memory, for ever. In our mind it waits further exploration and stays alive in bliss. So does this eternal Bhupen song.
Yes – We keep listening, oh no humming along with Bhupen da…- ‘dil hoom hoom kare’
(Photo: Courtesy – bhupenhazarika.com)