> Perfumed by the Bokul… - নিয়মীয়া খবৰ




Perfumed by the Bokul…

One would never expect to see flowers of the bokul, all dried and magenta and yellow tinted, in those large crystal-glass potpourri bowls that one finds in the luxurious ambience of sterling five-star hotel lobbies.

Here, in the flood plains of the Brahmaputra, the flowers of the Mimusops elengi Linn are just Oxomiya, their perfume rustic and real, and they have a song to go with it: “Bohu deen bokulor mala gotha nai…”, meaning ‘I haven’t in a long time strung a garland of bokul…’. It has for generations been a lingering reminder of a time that was, a yearning for love, longing, faces once known, of sand castles once built and songs once sung, a metaphor for the way life has been in these parts.

Birendra Nath Datta, the academician-teacher-writer who sang that song passed away this morning, aged 88, on the day the people of his state stepped out to celebrate Durga Puja on Nobomi, a day before the idols of the goddess would, after four days of worship, finally be immersed in the many rivers that cascade through the hills and valleys of Oxom. Amidst the incense that hung heavy and the mantras that were showered on the Goddess in puja pandals, the devout today whispered that Biren Datta had sailed for distant shores, and that they would always miss their bokul. Datta had perhaps chosen an auspicious day for his solo, music-filled voyage.

Datta belonged to a generation of creative people who wrote and sang when writing and singing never really paid the bills. That is where perhaps his PhD in Folklore would come in handy, as he went about the state from one teaching job to the next, in colleges and universities. In the body of work he would script right through, there would be a number of books and songs. Among them would be one titled Cultural Contours of Northeast India, and another titled Sankar Madhavar Manisha Aru Asomar Sanaskritic Uttaradhikar, one that brought him the Jagaddhatri-Harmohan Das Literary award. The country would, for its part, honour him with the Padma Shri.

Datta’s greatest contribution perhaps would be the simplicity of the work that the public at large would love him for, representative of a time when music was heard rather than seen–simple, honest lyrics and touching melodious accentuated with a harmonium and tabla, no frills.

The privilege of it all–that in his passing, Birendra Nath Datta gets to live as long as the bokul does.

By Pranab Bora

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