The queue was too long, the crowd too thick, the pall of gloom too heavy almost stifling. I stood across the road watching people as they trooped in and out of Rabindra Sadan drooped shoulders, talking in whispers, some wiping their eyes others rushing out as if they want to escape that intolerable moment. I could not muster the courage of crossing the road and walking over to see the man and say goodbye. May be because I didn’t want to say goodbye.
The only words that kept coming back over and over “Arindam Sohoj Porob ke internationally niye jete hobe…aar tomakei sei kaajta korte hobe bhai…ami gaan gawa chara aar kichu bujhi na” He was made of music. His expressions, his body language, his voice, his personality had the soft ripple of music playing about him.
My association with Kalikaprasad Bhattacharya began with Sohoj Parab, the only root music festival of India. Lopamudra Mitra (di) and Kalikada always dreamt of making the world a beautiful bubble of folk music through which people will relate to their roots, to their soil, to their origins. And I believed in them.
There have been occasions when Kalika Da and I have sat together and he told stories about folk music. Those wonderful stories right out of fairy tales. I listened like a child, eyes growing big as he related how he learnt his music in Agartala, how proud he was being a Sylheti and how he plied his trade.
We talked a few days back when he had come to Baguiati Boi Mela. In his inimitable manner he said “Arre Babba tumi ekhaneo…ekta cha khai cholo”. Yes, that was Kalika da, a friend who would greet you with a wide smile, open arms and a place in his heart.
You will always find a place in my heart dada. It is unfair going away so suddenly after giving us such a huge dream. And now we don’t know which way to go. And now we don’t know…