Happy New Year!
Today I have to digress from my usual column on recording the events of my life and venture on to something pleasanter and more contemporary. I promise, however, to be back with my usual column from the next issue. I must admit, though, that while I am writing a column on a regular basis it becomes impossible to stay on course on a single subject all the time. Sometimes an incident or a feeling, more importantly a feeling, takes precedence over others. And we are on such a cross road of history that something or the other happens intermittently to jog our dormant excitement. Turn of a calendar year is such an excitement jerker. As it is, at my age it is difficult to reconcile with such speedy finale of a calendar year. I am reminded of the inevitabilities of life, which is not exceedingly comfortable to say the least. However, one must face up to the realities of life and be positive rather than surrender to malevolent apprehension.
The year of 2017 ended with perhaps the greatest feast of Indian classical music organized by the Bengal Foundation. However, this is not the first time that this extraordinary event took Dhaka by a tempest. It has been happening for quite a few years now, with constant value addition, both in terms of variety of content and attendance by eager spectators. But this year was special in that Bengal had to respond to a wanton challenge thrown in terms of the hub of this great fest. Its original home, the Army Stadium, was for some reason not available for the festival. Initially, the organizers of the 'fest' announced with a heavy heart that this year there would be no festival. We were all crestfallen. Though I am not a frequent visitor there for health reasons, the idea of the festival had grown into me like a second nature. What is more, from the apartment that I live in, the festival at the Army stadium was just 'round the corner. All I had to do is to slide open my windowpane and sit by my reading table at the 9th floor to feast on the extraordinary classical music that permeated the darkness of night and haunted me for days on end. Alas, I would now be deprived of that luxury.
But the Bengal Foundation, led by my young friend Abul Khair Litu, decided eventually not to take it lying low. He got the permission to hold the festival at the Abahani Club ground at Dhanmondi. I was happy that Dhaka would not be deprived of its share of superior classical music. So what if I am deprived of it personally? So the fest was on. I sulked at nights for not having an access to what was going on at the Abahani ground. I turned and twisted on my bed until such time, one night, I switched on the television to find my favourite Hariprasd Chaurasia on his magical flute. I was in a trance. I was possessed. The experience was ethereal to say the least. When it ended, I thought why it was not perpetual. I cannot but thank Channel-I for bringing it to me from far away Dhanmondi.
So, winter for me this year began with the divinity of Chaurasia. It is a pity that I missed to be a live witness to the other extraordinary items like the Kheyal or Sitar. May be I will have better luck next year. Thanks to Bengal I am sure this feast of musical will be eternal.