Dr Bhupen Hazarika is no more, but his music will live on forever and so will the memories.
Bhupenda, as we all knew him, was a regular visitor to my grandparents' house in Ketekibari, Tezpur. Since his career started there, he did harbor a soft corner for the place and its people. My parents, Late Dr Rabindra Kumar Goswami and Dr Lakshmi Kumari Goswami, were very close friends since the early Sixties.
I first met him in 1966 when I woke up in the middle of the night and heard music and laughter wafting in from our drawing room. I walked in groggily and saw this thin man with a receding hairline singing and playing the harmonium. He stopped and looked up and said, "Oh, who have we here?" He then pulled me by my waist and made me sit near him and sang "Brahmaputrar Dutti par Dolongey log logaley."
There were two other people in the room besides my parents: One was Nirod Choudhury, the writer, and the other was Jayanta Hazarika or Rana Mama, Bhupenda's younger brother. From that day onwards, I remember him coming to stay in our house on innumerable occasions.
There was another incident which is still fresh in my mind. One day he locked himself up in our guest room. Outside, my sister and I were trying to peep in through the window to see what he was doing. I later came to know that he was composing the music of "Xeetore Xemeka Rati", which he sang in Darrang College that same evening. That was my first encounter with his genius. The piece of paper where he had scribbled the song is still with my mother, a little frayed at the edges.
Whenever he arrived the whole family was in holiday mode with picnics and parties and sing-song evenings. I had five aunts and nearly all of them including my Aita, who he fondly used to call Bogimai, were half in love with him as also were most of the women of Tezpur. My sister called him 'Moisa Mama' after hearing his song 'Moi Aru Mur Sa'. Looking back, he seemed to be very relaxed whenever he was at our place. Bhupenda loved the simplicity of Assamese food and would gather the ingredients himself from our backyard. He would take these to Moina Bai, our cook, and help her prepare his favorite dishes. He loved his evening tipple leading to creative and engrossing conversations. There were times when 'Johnnie' walked too far too fast!
At heart he was a simple son of the soil who touched a chord with anyone and everyone that crossed his path. There are many more anecdotes, some mysterious and some that are too personal for a public forum. I consider myself extremely lucky to have been privy to the informality of the man and his music.
Kulkul Rahman is a partner in a catering firm in Guwahati and loves everything good in life