There are always the moments when old songs, those which express our emotions, blossom in our hearts to remind us of the beautiful times we have lived through. In the 1960s --- and those were truly stirring times in every sense of the meaning --- we grew up listening to Ahmed Rushdi and Naheed Niazi singing raat chali hai jhoom ke / raahon ko teri choom ke / aa bhi jaa. And, of course, even now as we age and can clearly see our seventies approach us, we remember the neighbourhood shopkeeper happily singing away Hemant Kumar's hai apna dil to awara / na jaane kis pe aaye ga. And we have sung this song ever since.
In our treasury of Bengali songs, there is permanence attached to Shyamol Mitra's shey din-er shona jhora shondhya. For people of our generation --- and we were born between the early and mid 1950s --- that song swiftly takes us back to the romances we thought we were engaging in when we were young. Anup Ghoshal's aaj hok na meghla / holoi na hoy brishti / khola janla bondho kore diyo na is one song which keeps coming back to you every time the monsoon is here. It is in the rains that you spot a link between past and present. Go back to Rushdi, to the scene in the movie Naseeb Apna Apna where a sultry Shabnam takes refuge in Waheed Murad's quarters as rains lash the world outside. You cannot forget the song, ae abr-e-karam aaj itna baras / itna baras ke wo jaa na sakey. The rains remind you not just of the fecundity of the earth but also of the vitality in your being. Passion assumes bigger dimensions when it pours. Runa Laila's onek brishti jhore tumi ele and Noor Jehan's rimjhim rimjhim parhe phouar / tera mera nikta pyar are but two instances that speak of love exploding through the rains.
Rains apart, there are all those melodies that you sing at all times. They are songs you are truly addicted to. Think of Kishore Kumar's samah hai suhana suhana / nashe mein jahan hai / kisi ko kisi ki khabar hi kahan hai / har dil mein dekho mohabbat jawan hai. And speaking of nasha, Rushdi's lab par tera naam / haath mein gham ka jaam / dekhle kaise diwano ki / kat ti hai ab shaam is one song you may not have forgotten. Of course, Mohammad Rafi's mujhe duniya walo sharabi na samjho and koi saghar dil ko behlata nehi are a constant presence in your consciousness, proof that out of our sadness emerges some of the best poetry in our souls.
Life, in case you have not noticed, is in the end a story of immense sadness. Mahmudunnabi's salam prithibi tomake salam / duniya ke korechho taka'r golam speaks to you of a world that hardly has any place for you or your humility. And remember Rafi's laut aayi sada meri / takra ke sitaron se / ujrhi hui duniya ke / sunsaan kinaron se? Such heartbreak comes in the song toote hue khwabon ne / hum ko ye sikhaya hai / dil ne jise chaha tha / ankhon ne ganwaya hai.
The writer is Executive Editor, The Daily Star