Saturday, October 25, 2008

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Thursday, October 2, 2008

A Minstrel's Journey- Part 4

By Nikumoni Hussain
Source : The Assam Tribune , Sep 2008

Many women have come to my life
“After Priyam’s departure, many other women have figured in my life. I have not kept account. I committed a mistake there. Should have kept count. Then I would have been able to give you the number of such women. What I have noticed is that women by themselves come close to me. I have composed many songs leased on those women. However, the actual women behind those popular songs are different from the women mentioned in my songs. You people may think that Bhupen Hazarika flirts with women. But it is actually not so. I love everybody — with an open heart — ‘Rongmon’ the fisherman, the poor farmer who goes out on a winter morning to tend his fields, the young Mising man playing his flute at Disangmukh, the youthful Gorkha milkmaid, brother ‘Moina’ and of course, the river Brahmaputra. I sing for my motherland Assam. I consider myself to be very fortunate to receive love and adulation of people. That’s why I sing: ‘The thousand listeners of my songs. I bow to you. You are the main jewel of this song presentation show.’”

He informed me of the reason why he had put a fullstop (.) underneath his signature and then since when and why he now puts two fullstops (..). He told me for whom did he create the song Bimurta mor nishati... For whom did he write Tomar dekhun nam Patralekha... And for whom did he sing Pahori galane Kamakshya dhamate gupone adin... and the stories hidden behind many other such immortal songs. He further told me that in case on some day I write a book based on what he narrated to me, then I must not disclose the real identity of the many women for whom he had composed those famous songs. He requested me to inform to the readers that I have given imaginary names to preserve the privacy of those characters. “Many of them are still alive and in some cases, though they themselves may not be there, their children and grand children have to be taken into consideration. Please promise me to keep my words.”

My real love interest
In spite of his so-called love affairs, at the fag end of his life, Bhupenda tells me, “to make the lady from Assam, whom I love utmost and from the very bottom of my heart, mine, we need not go through wedding rituals. In our minds, we get married everyday, every night. Be it in sleep or in dream or even when we are awake, we embrace each other... I am living because of her only. However, long I stay in Assam, we meet each other very rarely. I can’t do anything about it, for this is what is known as love. I call it a misery full of sweetness. Her sweet memories are always with me, even without our meeting. Can you tell how long we haven’t met? Do you remember?”

“Yes, five years and 13 days,” I tell him.

“With due regards and best wishes to my undisclosed lover, I promise her to keep meeting her for our entire lives, just as it was in past.”

What a strange coincidence. While we were talking about her that day, his lover entered the place with slow steps. What is her name? Who is this beautiful lady? This mysterious woman. A very fair complexion with a sharp featured but soft face, a cascading tress of long hair, a pair of deep black eyes. As if a statue created by some renowned sculptor. The owner of a light pink coloured mansion. Who likes to listen to the music of Beethovan and Mozart. Whenever she thinks of Bhupenda, she sits in the centre of her lovely house and plays violin. She tries to express her sorrow by playing the ragas — Desh, Dhaneswari, and Meghamallar on the violin. Even her joys, her laughters are mixed with the pains of her life. It is late at night. Tears are flowing from the eyes of his restless beloved lady. The outside world however never comes to see those tears. Can you guess how old would she be?

At the most thirty-five, may be forty years. No, she is much older, of ripe old age. She could create a thousand stories by her bewitching smile. She is five feet six inches tall. These days she prefers loneliness. She searches for enjoyment without company. She has realized that sometimes even loneliness also talks, expresses itself. Now who will disclose her name? Is it Sandhya or Lalita or Kanta or for that matter Urmimala? She is the sweetheart without a name. Nobody can find out with certainty her actual identity from the love-letters written by Bhupen Hazarika to his beloved. Those were penned with great dexterity. No, they were not letters actually. Instead the lyrics of many of his ageless songs, where the real name of his lovers was disguised. These letters are stored with utmost care in a big box. But with passing of time, the alphabets have faded and occasionally these give a smell — the fragrance of love!

One day Anami, let’s give her this name, opened an almirah full of old clothes. The smell of napthalene had spread out. From amongst the clothes, she picked up carefully a few diaries and handed over to me. Then she said, “On the eve of a New Year today, I have nothing else to give you as a gift. Last night, the alphabets of these diaries embraced me and requested me to hand them over to you, so that our stories are preserved secretly for posterity. It is not that I have written exclusively about myself and Bhupenda in these diaries. But they also tell the sad history of my own long life. These alphabets contain all my grief and sadness. Do preserve them with care. Whatever you eat, give them a share too. Many years ago I had asked Bhupenda whom should I request to write our story. You know what was his reply? He advised me to give the job to a lady author who too, had undergone much suffering in life. Who has experienced anguish, who’s life is a garland of sorrows and who can develop friendship with agony. One who has stood up as a real person despite lack of company and who even in her last breath will give life to our memory. Search for such an author. ‘Remember, in that novel you would be known as Subash (fragrance), my Subash,’ Bhupenda had said. There is one more thing — provided I am still alive then we will read the novel together. And in case I am no longer there, then keep the first copy of the novel in front of my photograph. After that only you should read it.”

She continued further. “Every morning, after having my bath, I stand before the Belgian mirror and wonder where can I locate that particular woman who would preserve our story.”

I welcomed and accepted the diaries with an open mind and assured her, “hence onwards your past will not sing the song of separation and sorrow, but rather of hope and happiness. Yes, it will sing a song of joy.”

Slowly Anami went back to the almirah and caressed a zori-bordered blue coloured mekhela chadar hanging on a hanger there. Exactly at that moment as if on a cue, the small tap recorder inside my hand bag started playing the very moving Bhupenda’s song Bimurta mor nishati jen mounatar sutare bua akhoni nila chadar...

Inadvertently both her eyes got moistened. It appeared as if the blue skies, too, shedded tears, the golden and silver coloured fishes in the pond in front of the house could also feel the poignancy of the moment. The gentle breeze was also conveying its sympathy, so also the tender riceplants in the fields. Sympathy was being expressed by the chirping pair of birds, so also by the leaves of the plants around the pond. Both of us were in dialogue with an unfinished poem which will grow into a dream-flower in the days yet to dawn.

[Correction: Bhupen Hazarika got separated from Priyam in 1963 and not in 1953 as was printed in last week’s episode.]

A Minstrel's Journey- Part 3

By Nikumoni Hussain
Source : The Assam Tribune , Sep 2008

YOU SEE, in one’s life while there is joy, there is sorrow as well. While there is union through a marriage. There is separation too, because of either incompatibility or due to death. Mamoni has gone through all these very naturally and has also analyzed the causes that bring unhappiness to a woman. One day a number of reporters, belonging to several newspapers, came to my house. I enquired the reason for their visit. Their reply was, “Bhupenda, you always claim that there was no affair between you and Mamoni Raisom. We don’t believe it. We strongly feel that there was something.”

I interjected, “Is it so? Then it would be better if you ask Mamoni about it.”

“We are just coming from her place only.”

“What did she tell you then?”

“No, there was no affair between Bhupenda and me,” Mamoni baideu informed us. “I like Bhupenda very much. One cannot imagine about Assamese culture without his contribution, particularly his music. But there was no love affair between us.”

“So what will you write now? Depict a relationship simply out of your imagination? Had I and Mamoni got married, we would perhaps have been quarrelling all the time. Do you know why I say so? Mamoni gets up early in the morning and I get up by late afternoon only. She eats boiled food, I like grilled fish. Her job is to read and write and mine is to sing songs. Mamoni drinks a single peg (she does not take any more) and I drink... (nowadays I have cut down to a small quantity). May God grant her a long enjoyable life. This is my wish.”

See, what was I telling you for so long. I was to tell you about my Mamoni, my sweetheart, I delivered a lecture on your Mamoni Raisom instead. No one amongst you knows my Mamoni. She is Mamoni of long past. She was my love interest for a very long time. Then I went to USA for earning my PhD degree. That was the time when I lost my Mamoni. She became someone else’s wife. That is like another novel. OK, I will keep on narrating to you. While in America I met a young Gujarati girl. It was snowing heavily that day. I had put on an overcoat and was hurrying on the street, when I stumbled and fell down. I was bleeding profusely and lost sense. When I returned to my senses, I found myself at the Roosevelt Hospital. Priyambada Patel had come to the hospital to enquire about my injury. It was because of her nursing and the care she took that I could recover quickly. You know, when you nurse somebody with all sincerity, it gradually develops into love. It is very natural. If you want to fall in love, then nurse him with all the care. It is sure to work. One day she presented me with a colourful bouquet at the hospital and our love affair started from that day.

Just like in a Hindi movie I held her hand and sang a song – a love song. The affair was sealed. Priyam was from a very rich family. Her father was MM Patel, nephew of Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel. She had grown up in Kampala, Uganda. I got fully recovered after some time. Most of the evenings we used to go out together. We used to visit an ashram frequently. It was very lovely. We would sit there and talk for hours. She picked up my language — Assamese — surprisingly fast. Then one day she informed me that she had come to America for four years for studying and now her father has called her back. I advised her to go back in that case. But, instead she said: “Why should I go back? No, I’ll not return.”

“Oh! You only informed me that you have been called back and now you say that you are not returning. I don’t get you.”

“Oh! You are such a simpleton. Have not understood anything as yet?”

“No, I will go back home together with you. But that will be only after we get married.”

I was completely taken aback. “Did you say marriage? I marry you?” I explained to her, “I am from a very poor family. In fact, so poor that you simply cannot imagine. In order to marry in such circumstances, one needs courage and unfortunately, I lack that. On top of that, my father always carries a gun. No. I cannot marry you.” But she was stubborn and would not give up. At last, I had to agree: “OK, I will marry you. But we will not stay in America and go back to my native place, Assam and earn my living there.” You see, she used to love me above everything. She comes back to my mind quite often.

Blessing the bride and the groom

Our wedding was organized there itself by fellow Indians. Someone played Bismillah Khan’s shehnai on a taperecorder. While other girls decorated the floor with alpana, Gujarati girls danced the ‘Garba’. A Brahmin teacher recited the Vedic mantras and our wedding was solemnized. We then got ourselves registered as husband and wife in a city court. While signing, I felt almost choked. As if somebody was telling me, ‘Eldest son, have you thought about everything before taking this step?’ It was something which neither Priyam’s father or my parents wanted. Some time after that we were blessed with a son. Our only child. We christened him as ‘Tez’ (blood). Those were really so lovely days. Priyam helped me in all sorts of work. Particularly, in writing scripts. She really worked hard for my sake.

Now another story
Then one day Priyam left me for good. My world came to a standstill. All of a sudden I felt so lonely. In order to forget those anguished days, I dwelled deeper and deeper into the world of art and culture.

According to you, what was the actual reason of Priyam leaving you?

That is another story. My life is full of stories. The main reason of her leaving me was our monetary shortages. Terrible shortages.

That day he narrated to me the extreme hardships faced by Priyam because of his meagre income. Those were stories full of grief and sufferings.

The second reason was because of the hurt she got from my first love. That was one incident! Once Priyam happened to meet her by chance. Priyam brought her to me. Gradually they developed a deep friendship. When I noticed this, I wondered — are they really such good friends. I doubted whether it would be good for either of them. Then one day, after seeing off her friend at the airport, she returned home and started crying. I enquired about the reason of her crying. She cried even more and replied that her friend, my earlier love has told her that she loved you much more than she (Priyam) ever did. Then was there any place for her in my life? I think that Priyam was hurt very deeply by what was told to her by my first lover Mamoni. She started talking less and less to me and remained depressed. I also thought if it was right for me to utilize such a virtuous and talented person like Priyam for my domestic purposes only. At that time she was getting calls from Indian Foreign Service for joining. She was unable to go because of housework. One day I told her that it would be better for her to leave and join the service. We took leave of each other without any bitterness, rather with much tenderness. We were married in 1950 and got separated in 1953. This is the sad story of my married life. From facing economic hardships, our lives had entered the feeling of hurtness. So, probably it was alright that way. Now everything goes on as usual. Priyam lives abroad and I meet her whenever I go there. She also visits me when she comes to India. Even today, in the telephone directory her name appears as — Hazarika Priyambada Patel. Though we are free today to lead our own lives, she remains my intimate friend. Suppose you ask to name my best friend, my reply would be Priyam, my Priyam. She would always remain mine.

A Minstrel's Journey- Part 2

By Nikumoni Hussain
Source : The Assam Tribune , Sep 2008

Nothing great about it
“By then I was twenty and my guru was late Bishnu Rava. One day I received a letter from him asking me to meet him at the base of the Kamakhya hill. I went there and found that he was hiding in a small hut belonging to a widow. Only then I could realize that he was a fugitive. There I sat down, wrote a poem, read it, recited it and then sang. Sometime passed in this manner and then I returned home on a bicycle. I knocked on the door with some trepidation thinking who would open the door. Dad opened the front door and immediately slapped me on the face.

“I felt humiliated and straightaway went to my bed without having food. Next day, on getting a suitable opportunity, I explained to dad that I had gone out to meet my guru and not for doing anything unwanted. He heard me and simply replied, ‘So what? I had only slapped you. It wasn’t anything great.’”

The fortunate but hard up days
“No doubt my childhood was one of privation, but on many counts we were equally fortunate. The famous Ban Stage was only a short run away from our house (at Tezpur). I could after listen to melodious piano being played there. When I was in class VI, I had the good fortune of meeting men of letters like late Dandidhar Kalita. Also Jyoti Prasad and Bishnu Rava, whom I used to address as elder brother, would frequently call me to their place, allow me to listen while they were composing some unforgettable music and then asked me to do the same. They insisted on my doing it repeatedly so that I would not forget. I grew up in such an atmosphere. Not that our hard days ended shortly. Rather they continued for many years. Since I was the eldest, Mom would serve me more food compared to my brothers and sisters. But that was not acceptable to me. We used to share equally amongst us. I passed high school from Tezpur in 1940 and got admitted in Cotton College. I was only 14 then. Since I did not have a full pant and was wearing a half pant, the chowkidar at the college gate would not allow me in initially. Around that time, Dad shifted from Tezpur to Mangaldai. Second World War was going on and American soldiers roamed all around the place. So I had to go to Benares (Varanasi) to continue my studies. I felt bad about it, thinking how father would manage to send Rs. 60 every month to me when conditions back home were not good. At that time a poor person used to live near our house. While being very kind hearted, he used to be angry like a tiger in rage. He did not have enough to eat. So, while returning home in the evening with a seer of rice, which father himself had managed to buy with difficulty for our family, he would gladly share half of it with our neighbour. You know who he was? He was none other than Gopinath Bardoloi. When I think of those days, I really feel sorry for our poor dad. He had to support such a large family. My brother Amar, too, was to go out to Pune for studies. Why me and Amar only? What about our other brothers and sisters? Sudakshina’s wedding was to be arranged. It had to be a good one since she was such a lovely girl. One day, when I was at home on vacation from Benares, with lot of hesitation I informed dad that I needed Rs 260 to pay as my last examination fees. In a sorrowful voice he told me: ‘Dear son, tell me where from I will manage so much money for you? Yes, tell me.’ I replied with equal sadness: ‘Yes dad, I do understand. But...’ Amar was listening to us. He quietly went to Prabhudayal Himmatsinka, a businessman, borrowed a military truck from him for three days and asked me to earn the required sum for my fees by myself. We had a Ford car of our own also. While I did not know how to drive, Amar could. As mentioned earlier, the place was teeming with American soldiers who used to go to the cinema hall situated near the temple on top of Sukreswar ghat for seeing English movies in the second show. While some soldiers marched back to their barracks through the road in front of our house at the end of the show, the barracks for the other soldiers were located at Maligaon. We offered to drop them there regularly in our vehicle for a consideration. It worked satisfactorily and in a few days I was able to earn enough to return to Benares and pay my exam fees. See, how I managed to grow up and become Bhupen Hazarika. Will you, a present-day girl, able to face such hardships? Leave aside overcoming them, I doubt whether you can even imagine of such things.”

My sweet dear was Mamoni
“I was in intense love with a woman. Her name was Mamoni. Not your Mamoni Raisom Goswami. Now I will have to tell something about Raisom too, though she never was my lover. Otherwise, she will be angry with me. When I first heard about Mamoni Raisom, I was a lyricist and very busy. I used to compose lyrics day and night. She was very beautiful then. No, I would not use the word ‘was’ because she still is as lovely and also because she will again be very angry with me. Yes, she is still beautiful. In those days we young men used to stare at her and I was the one who used to stare most. I feel proud about her. A very good girl… a girl with an open heart. She does not care. I have visited the whole world. But nowhere have I met a person with such an open mind. Many years ago Mamoni wrote a poem on me. I will remain ever grateful to her for what she wrote about me in each line of the poem. Now please read a stanza from the poem. I am yearning to hear it.

Bhupenda — without your voice,/I cannot draw the map of my motherland./Where was this born?/Was it in mud or in nectar?/No — it is not my question./But what a voice it is./The voice which touches one like nectar./Uncountable hearts of my birth place./What a voice it is?/The voice which knows, how to enter deep inside one’s heart./But does not know the way out…

“Great, really great poetry. I feel happy and proud that such a poem has been written about me. Did somebody write a poem on you? No? Somebody will surely write. There is plenty of time. Make a copy of the poem and do send to me.

“As far as I could remember, it is a pretty long poem. Is it not? Yes, the poem consists of 63 lines. In between, Mamoni wrote lyrics for a few songs which were excellent. I was very jealous at that time. Thought it was alright as long as she concentrated on writing poem and other literary works. Writing lyrics was my forte. Why did she start writing lyrics also? She used to visit our place. So one day I advised her, ‘Mamoni, songs written by you are not as good. It will be better for you to stick to your own area in literature. So please don’t write songs.’ She probably could not get the real idea behind my advice and said, ‘Yes Bhupenda, I have realized that my songs are no good. You actually are meant for writing lyrics and composing music.’ That was a great relief to me. Mamoni’s writings are of very high standard… more than ‘Jnanpith’… as good as Mahasweta Devi’s. She is a woman whose heart is full of happiness, sorrow, love and compassion for others. The (greatest) thing about her is that she is so courageous — yes, full of courage. In my opinion she has always been right in her choosen path in life.

A Minstrel's Journey- Part 1

By Nikumoni Hussain
Source : The Assam Tribune , Sep 2008
This write-up is an attempt to highlight a few snapshots from the illustrious life of one of the greatest Assamese musicians of all times — the one and only Dr Bhupen Hazarika. It is a tribute to a living legend and is being presented as a bouquet to him — where the colourful flowers have been replaced by my words. Dr Hazarika believes in human-goodness which according to him is a person’s real identity and love for fellow human beings is his true religion.

Recolleting the memories of his eventful past sometime back, Dr Hazarika first remembered the inter-caste marriage of Anamika Goswami and Prasanta Das — both full of youth and its vigour — and the romance of their wedding-night on a bed decorated with tube-roses (rajanigandha). He then narrated to me the untold and unknown stories behind the creation of many of his most famous and immortal songs. Also of those terrible days when he was unable to meet the basic needs of his family. I kept on listening intently as the words flowed and captured them in the small tape-recorder I always carry in my handbag. I now try to make a beautiful garland out of those precious utterings of his, preserved with utmost care by me.

I ran for sugar candies (batasha)
“I was born in 1926, the eldest of the ten siblings. What is poverty? What is being hard up? I could realize and experience these things at a fairly young age. Though rice was available then at far less than a rupee per seer but our poor father was finding it difficult to make ends meet for such a large family like ours. I don’t remember much about my early childhood till I was about ten years old. There used to be a resturant near the Bharalumukh police station. At the other end of the old Bharalumukh bridge, singing of Bengali Hari-kirtan used to take place frequently, followed by distribution of sugar candies (batasha) as prasad. I, along with other boys, used to run for these candies. Groups of ojapali performers used to come from Hajo, Azara, Palashbari, etc, and my mother took me regularly to see those performances. Our father would compose songs and we used to sing them. Once there was a function at the Cotton Collegiate School and I was asked by my father to sing songs. I had to stand on a table, wearing dhuti and punjabi. As soon as my performance was over, a virtous person came over, kissed me on both my cheeks and blessed me that once I grow up, I would be a great person and a renowned artiste. Just like ‘Master Madan’, a well known child artiste of that time. That person was none other than the great Lakhminath Bezboruah.”

Son of an SDC
“My father was as SDC, a fairly important official then. See! I was the son of a big person but still I disliked him for one reason. Even today I continue to do so. You see, my mother used to give birth to a baby every year. Our neighbour used to tease me — whether I want a brother or a sister for the next delivery. I felt embarassed and could not reply. I was fairly grown up by then. So while taking bath one day, I started singing loudly Thus far and no further so that father could hear. But I was frightened as well, for he used to be an angry person and always carried a gun, which he lifted into his hand at the slightest provocation. Whenever guests visited our place, he would call me by shouting ‘Eldest one! Eldest one, come here immediately.’ Like a criminal, I would present myself without loss of time. Dad would then introduce me to his guests with pride, ‘This is Bhupen, my eldest son. He is a good boy. He can sing, recite a poem, write an essay. In fact, he can do almost everything.’ Then he would command me to sing and to show the guests how good a singer I was. He would also prophesied before the guests that I would be famous when I grow up. I used to feel embarassed and once when the guests had left, I charged him ‘Dad, what happens to you sometime? Why do you praise me in front of others when I am present? Do people have to certify me that I am good?’ Father would then chase me shouting, ‘You want to teach me? You are my son. So I would certainly tell people that you are good. Bring my gun.’ Soon I would be at the top of the litchi tree with father hovering underneath.”

Go and have a look at Hazarika’s sons
“Despite his angry nature, father loved us children very much. He would teach us how to act. He was very fond of dramas and always used to deliver dialogues from many plays and bhaonas. For calling us for dinner, he would deliver a dialogue in bhaona style, ‘Come! Courtiers come.’ Another advice which father used to give in a loud voice was — ‘Go and have a look at our neighbour’s children. See how early they get up in the morning, learn their lessons, fetch milk from the milkman and get the essential things from the market. And you donkeys, you sleep till 8 o’clock every morning.’ Since he used to give such lectures every day, once I gathered some courage and told mother within the earshot of Dad, ‘Mom! Do you know what our neighbours say about us?’ Somewhat surprised, mother asked, ‘What do they tell about you children?’ Encouraged, I replied, ‘They advise their children to go and have a look at Hazarika’s sons and daughters who are good not only in their studies, but also in singing, dancing, talking and many other things. They are very likeable as well.’ I’d have loved to find out whether father, who was in the next room, was listening to me or not. To my disappointment, he as usual, was busy in delivering dialogues from some play with a gun in his hand...”

I would be taken to Calcutta
“I was a little grown up by then and was studying in class VI. After having my bath and putting on my school dress one morning, I was waiting in the verandah. I kept on waiting but mother would not call me for having my meal before going to school. Father saw me there and scolded, ‘What are doing here? Go and sit on your table. When the food is ready, mother would call you and serve you.’ The obediant son I was, I sat down on my table and looked outside through the window. Our house was L-shaped. Meanwhile, a chevrolet car came and holted in front of our house. You know, I still remember the colour of the car — it was black. I wondered who would come in such a lovely car. A handsome person alighted from the car, followed by a dark skinned one. I could recognize them — Bishnu Rava and Phani Sarma. I knew them well from quite an young age. A number of plays used to be staged at the Ban Theatre (Tezpur) those days and my father, the SDC, had to take part. I would accompany mom to the shows. Jyoti Agarwala would play the piano, Bishnu Rava would deliver the dialogues and many others would also be performing. Soon the theatre hall would become crowded with people and it would be difficult to get sitting space. So I would sit on my mother’s lap and sometimes on the gallery when some space could be squeezed out. More of such stories later on. Now let me get back to my earlier story — I was so delighted to see such important personalities visiting our place. A short while letter, father called one and since I was anticipating such a thing, I immediately ran to their presence. Dad asked me to greet them by bowing and I did so. One of them enquired whether I possessed a piano. I replied in the affirmative and added that the Japanese piano was purchased for me by dad, but it could produce only seven of the basic tunes (ragas). The person said that, that would be fine and asked me to fetch it. When the piano was brought, Bishnu Rava played one of his compositions on it. Since their talks with father was continuing, I had to leave for school. However, my mind was on the discussions father was having with the gentlemen and I could not concentrate in my class. I thought of skipping school but was afraid of getting caught in the act and then getting a thrashing. No sooner I returned from school, with some fear in heart, I asked father about the reason of the visit by the gentlemen. But dad, with lot of love and pride informed me that I would be taken to Calcutta for the recording of songs to be sung by me. I was really thrilled to hear this and immediately ran to my mother making the jhak-jhak-coooo... sound of a moving train. I embraced her tightly in delight.”

That day, without a stop, Bhupenda went on narrating the highly entertaining stories of his childhood. As if there was no end to those tales. At times his eyes would get moistened. Perhaps the memories of his mother and father had made him emotional.

I said I will not read
“One day, dad told me, ‘You are grown up now. You will have to study more and work harder. From today onwards you will have a separate room to yourself and that is your table.’ I gave a broad smile in delight. But as usual, father was angry once again, ‘Not for nothing I am giving you that room. You will have to get up at 4 o’clock in the morning for studying. Have you understood?’ I assured him that I have understood everything. But as soon as he left, in a loud voice, I called mother to me. ‘What’s the matter? Why are you shouting?’ She enquired coming near me. I replied I am not going to get up at 4 o’clock in the morning and study hard. And when I say I will not study, I mean it and an certainly not going to study. Seeing my arrogance, mother reasoned with me affectionately, ‘No my dear. You are the eldest. You should not behave like that. Once you start getting up early, you will form the habit and it will be easy.’ Seizing the opportunity, I told her that in that case she would have to give me two things. She promised to give and asked me what are those two things. I replied that I will need an alarm clock and a boiled egg every morning I was to get up early and study. At night mom placed an alarm clock by my bedside and after setting my waking-up time asked me not to touch it, lest it would get disturbed. She put the boiled egg in a small bowl, covered it with a lid and put it on my table. She advised me to take the boiled egg with some salt which would help me in digesting. Next morning, even before the crows had started crowing, the alarm rang with a big noise. I immediately put it off and gulped down the boiled egg. Then I went back to my bed, covered myself with a quilt and fell fast asleep. This ritual continued for several days untill I was caught red-handed by father. You can well imagine what happened after that...”