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Remembering the Bard of Brahmaputra

As the jajabor (wanderer) embarks on his eternal journey, his fans talk about the influence Bhupen Hazarika had on their lives. His last rites will be performed in Guwahati today

Hundreds of people thronged the Loknath Gopinath Bordoloi Airport in Guwahati yesterday to pay their last respects to the Bard of Brahmaputra, Bhupen Hazarika. Assam has been mourning the death of the music maestro since Saturday. As massive preparations are on in Guwahati for Hazarika's funeral, die-hard fans of Hazarika from all over Assam too are flocking in large numbers to attend his funeral rites. According to media reports, Hazarika's body will be first brought to his ancestral home at Nizarapara in Guwahati and then taken to the Judges Field (a public playground) for his fans and well wishers to pay their tribute and respect. The cortege will also stop at Guwahati University and two other places.



Subir Chowdhury (48) from Dibrugarh district of Assam has been an ardent admirer of Hazarika since 1979. "I was a 16-year-old boy when I first heard Hazarika singing. He had come to Digboi, another town in Assam, to perform at a function. I vividly remember the moment when he just spontaneously picked up the mike and started singing Bistirna Dupare (a song  based on Paul Robeson's 'Ol Man River') and he sang fluently in Hindi, Assamese and Bengali." A self proclaimed leftist, Chowdhury claims that it is Hazarika's 'vision and purpose of music' that made him so popular among the masses. "He was not just a singer. He was a multifaceted personality -- a writer, director, singer and an accomplished filmmaker. He was politically aware and a true intellectual."

Memorable
Devajit Borthakur (37), a medical representative from Dibrugarh, left for Guwahati yesterday to attend Hazarika's funeral rites. Borthakur recollects his childhood when, "there were gramophones and no tape recorders. My father would play his songs over gramophone discs. Hence, I grew up listening to his songs and have come to appreciate his views on various issues." Borthakur recalls an incident in 1993, when he travelled all the way to Sibsagar, a district in Assam, to attend a function where Hazarika was expected to sing. "Our bus broke down in the middle of the road. We had to walk 8-10 km to reach the venue where he was expected to perform. If it was any other singer, we would have come back, but it was Bhupenda's performance. So we stayed back and attended the function. It was an overwhelming experience to just see him on stage." After the announcement of his death on Saturday, Hazarika's songs are being played on every street of Assam.
Teary-eyed fans organised candlelight processions in memory of the legendary singer in different districts of
Assam.



Respect
While some of his fans are glued to their television sets, others are mourning by listening to his songs over and over again. Dr Mriganka Baruah, a diabetologist from Dibrugarh reminisces. "I was based in Namrup. Hazarika was about to perform at an event in our area. I must have been 7 or 8 years old then. Me and two of my friends, were asked to present a phulam-gamocha (floral towel) to Hazarika. We also had to shout a slogan 'Bhupen mama amar hok' and touch his feet. I still have a black-and-white picture, which was taken, when I touched his feet. When I heard about his death, the first thing I did was to go and look at that picture, a priceless possession." Hazarika's death did not come as a surprise to Baruah who was closely following reports, which stated that the singer's health was deteriorating. "As a doctor, I realised that he may not recover from his illness. Also he was 85. But one cannot deny the fact that this is a huge loss for the whole country. We will never hear him sing again," said Baruah. When asked what is that one thing he admired the most about Hazarika, Borah replied, "It has to be his philosophy of peace and brotherhood."

Mourning
Subhra Bhattacharjee (63) from Dibrugarh, yet another fan of Hazarika who was all set to attend his funeral, is upset that she had to cancel her tickets at the last moment. "My health deteriorated last night. So, my doctor advised me to abstain from any exertion. I will not be attending the funeral, but I will be watching all of it on television." Bhattacharjee, who is a social worker will organise a function in her locality to 'celebrate the life of the legend.' She further adds, "Hazarika was closely associated with the Indian People's Theatre Association (IPTA). He spoke for the downtrodden, the poor and the needy. He was above any sort of regionalism, parochialism or communalism. We could identify with him," said Bhattacharjee, her voice choked with emotion.

Orindom Borgohain (45), a medical representative in Golaghat considers Hazarika's death as a 'personal loss'.

Borgohain, laments the fact that he won't be able to attend his funeral rites owing to some personal work but, "he will always live in our hearts," said Borgohain. Another fan of Hazarika, Rupamoni Saikia (34), a contractor who works in the real-estate sector, based in Guwahati will be attending the entire procession on Tuesday.
Sanjay Hazarika, a well-known journalist and author from Assam said that it is Bhupen Hazarika who is responsible for putting Assam on the world's cultural map. "Such people are born once in a century."



According to  media reports, the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA), a separatist outfit based in Assam, too mourned Hazarika's death. "We are holding a special meeting to mourn the death of our Dada (elder brother)," ULFA anti-talk faction chief and commander-in-chief Paresh Baruah said in an e-mail in Guwahati.
Talking about Hazarika's song, Sanjay remarked, "You can't enjoy the sunrise, when you are rushing towards sunset. His songs were for those people who were at the mercy of power."

Hundreds of people thronged the Loknath Gopinath Bordoloi Airport in Guwahati yesterday to pay their last respects to the Bard of Brahmaputra, Bhupen Hazarika. Assam has been mourning the death of the music maestro since Saturday. As massive preparations are on in Guwahati for Hazarika's funeral, die-hard fans of Hazarika from all over Assam too are flocking in large numbers to attend his funeral rites. According to media reports, Hazarika's body will be first brought to his ancestral home at Nizarapara in Guwahati and then taken to the Judges Field (a public playground) for his fans and well wishers to pay their tribute and respect. The cortege will also stop at Guwahati University and two other places.

Subir Chowdhury (48) from Dibrugarh district of Assam has been an ardent admirer of Hazarika since 1979. "I was a 16-year-old boy when I first heard Hazarika singing. He had come to Digboi, another town in Assam, to perform at a function. I vividly remember the moment when he just spontaneously picked up the mike and started singing Bistirna Dupare (a song  based on Paul Robeson's 'Ol Man River') and he sang fluently in Hindi, Assamese and Bengali." A self proclaimed leftist, Chowdhury claims that it is Hazarika's 'vision and purpose of music' that made him so popular among the masses. "He was not just a singer. He was a multifaceted personality -- a writer, director, singer and an accomplished filmmaker. He was politically aware and a true intellectual."

Memorable
Devajit Borthakur (37), a medical representative from Dibrugarh, left for Guwahati yesterday to attend Hazarika's funeral rites. Borthakur recollects his childhood when, "there were gramophones and no tape recorders. My father would play his songs over gramophone discs. Hence, I grew up listening to his songs and have come to appreciate his views on various issues." Borthakur recalls an incident in 1993, when he travelled all the way to Sibsagar, a district in Assam, to attend a function where Hazarika was expected to sing. "Our bus broke down in the middle of the road. We had to walk 8-10 km to reach the venue where he was expected to perform. If it was any other singer, we would have come back, but it was Bhupenda's performance. So we stayed back and attended the function. It was an overwhelming experience to just see him on stage." After the announcement of his death on Saturday, Hazarika's songs are being played on every street of Assam. Teary-eyed fans organised candlelight processions in memory of the legendary singer in different districts of Assam.

Respect
While some of his fans are glued to their television sets, others are mourning by listening to his songs over and over again. Dr Mriganka Baruah, a diabetologist from Dibrugarh reminisces. "I was based in Namrup. Hazarika was about to perform at an event in our area. I must have been 7 or 8 years old then. Me and two of my friends, were asked to present a phulam-gamocha (floral towel) to Hazarika. We also had to shout a slogan 'Bhupen mama amar hok' and touch his feet. I still have a black-and-white picture, which was taken, when I touched his feet. When I heard about his death, the first thing I did was to go and look at that picture, a priceless possession." Hazarika's death did not come as a surprise to Baruah who was closely following reports, which stated that the singer's health was deteriorating. "As a doctor, I realised that he may not recover from his illness. Also he was 85. But one cannot deny the fact that this is a huge loss for the whole country. We will never hear him sing again," said Baruah. When asked what is that one thing he admired the most about Hazarika, Borah replied, "It has to be his philosophy of peace and brotherhood."

Mourning
Subhra Bhattacharjee (63) from Dibrugarh, yet another fan of Hazarika who was all set to attend his funeral, is upset that she had to cancel her tickets at the last moment. "My health deteriorated last night. So, my doctor advised me to abstain from any exertion. I will not be attending the funeral, but I will be watching all of it on television." Bhattacharjee, who is a social worker will organise a function in her locality to 'celebrate the life of the legend.' She further adds, "Hazarika was closely associated with the Indian People's Theatre Association (IPTA). He spoke for the downtrodden, the poor and the needy. He was above any sort of regionalism, parochialism or communalism. We could identify with him," said Bhattacharjee, her voice choked with emotion.

Orindom Borgohain (45), a medical representative in Golaghat considers Hazarika's death as a 'personal loss'. Borgohain, laments the fact that he won't be able to attend his funeral rites owing to some personal work but, "he will always live in our hearts," said Borgohain. Another fan of Hazarika, Rupamoni Saikia (34), a contractor who works in the real-estate sector, based in Guwahati will be attending the entire procession on Tuesday.

Sanjay Hazarika, a well-known journalist and author from Assam said that it is Bhupen Hazarika who is responsible for putting Assam on the world's cultural map. "Such people are born once in a century."

According to  media reports, the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA), a separatist outfit based in Assam, too mourned Hazarika's death. "We are holding a special meeting to mourn the death of our Dada (elder brother)," ULFA anti-talk faction chief and commander-in-chief Paresh Baruah said in an e-mail in Guwahati.

Talking about Hazarika's song, Sanjay remarked, "You can't enjoy the sunrise, when you are rushing towards sunset. His songs were for those people who were at the mercy of power."

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