The Wanderer Has Left Us

-- Loknath Goswami, General Secretary, Sadou Assam Jansanskritik Parishad

That golden voice that gave a distinct identity to the entire North East, and sang “Ami ek jajabor” (I’m a wanderer), has fallen silent….

In the 1950s, Bhupen Hazarika had to leave Assam under unfortunate circumstances and come to Kolkata. Harassed for his links with the Left cultural movement, he was forced to resign as Professor of Guwahati University. As a member of an all India cultural delegation, he had visited Helsinki and Finland, and had been unavoidably delayed. In spite of the fact that he had cabled the University about the delay, the administration cut his salary for three days. With that, Bhupen Hazarika left the university, and began his journey as a cultural activist.

Even after IPTA fell apart, Bhupen Hazarika did not lose his balance. He stood firm, with his feet firmly grounded among the people. His immortal composition, ‘Shiter shishir bheja raat’ speaks from his soul: “On a dew-soaked winter night, may our song become the flickering embers that warm the unclothed labourer in the field; the solace of the cries of the terrified minority; the sound of the song of the new dawn – the same song sung by a singer whose voice was silenced.” He published a cultural magazine called ‘Pratidhwani.’ That magazine embodied the spirit of his song ‘Pratidhwani Shunu Ami Pratidhwani Shuni’, in which he hears, from beyond the hills, the grief-laden song of a young girl and the hunger and pain of a peasant – and then hears that grief and hunger and pain end. He hears the footfalls of a new day in the tumult of the sea of humanity.

After IPTA, he became the President of the Sadou Assam Jansanskritik Parishad. That was in 1982, when the Assam movement was at its peak, and was being misled by both chauvinists and communists. In that atmosphere of communal and ethnic conflict, when it was difficult for people to come out on the streets, Dr. Bhupen Hazarika himself formed a cultural team of the Parishad and came out on the streets. Around this time, HMV released the long playing record of progressive folk musician Bishnu Prasad Rabha’s selected compositions – a historic moment for Assam that would have been impossible without Bhupen Hazarika. From 1982-1989, he remained President of the Sadou Assam Jansanskritik Parishad for two successive terms of four years each. He had an invaluable role in building this organization.

Bhupen Hazarika’s passing is a huge blow, not only for Assam and the North East, but for the whole country. He was indeed a great scholar, intellectual, progressive human being and great musician. He was that fire and flame that burns within and without the hearts of the people of Assam. He will always live in their hearts. Noone can match that fearless, sweet, golden voice and its message.

Assam’s Government are trying to project Bhupen Hazarika as a divine soul. In fact, he was a true son of the soil, inspired by the toiling people and inspiring them in return.

The Sadou Assam Jansanskritik Parishad salutes the immortal legacy of Bhupen Hazarika!

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