Come Sawan … like a whiff of breeze, the beauty of Sawan envelops the mind: the sky filled with clouds… dark clouds hiding the blue sky , the sound of raindrops, the fields covered with green grass and beautiful flowers, that Sawan ki puhara monsoon fog that envelopes the trees on the outskirts of the village….playing hide and seek and that jhoola, swing hanging between two tall palmyra trees that stood close to each other, girls swinging with red bangles in chubby hands… gunghroos anklets on their feet jingling in gusto while dupattas rippled in the balmy breeze …droves of giggling girls draped in colourful silks that make rumbling noises while they walk…jumping and hopping among the cesspools of the ill-laid roads… wafting mild but sweet perfume of the Chamantees’ decked in their braids… going around the houses in the late evenings to pick tambuul [ams] offered by the girls who got married in the preceding Jeth maaha and performed Gauri puja … Indeed, these stray imageries at once transports my heart back into the garden of youth… those carefree days of splendour and opulence with friends… back at the native village that was left behind.
And this journey back into those bygone days invariably ends up at that heart-wrenching film song sung by Asha Bhosle under the baton of that Maestro, SD Burman:
Ab ke baras bhej bhaiyyaa ko babul
(O father, do send my brother this year)
Sawan mein lijo bulaay re
(To fetch me during monsoon) …
Lautengi jab meri bachpan kee sakhiyaa
(When my childhood friends return)
Dijo sandesaa bhijaay re
(Do send news)
Ambua tale phir se jhule padenge
(Swings will be set up again under the mango trees)
Rim jhim padenge phuhaare
(Light showers will fall )…
Lautengi phir tere angan me babul
(will return again to your courtyard)
Savan ki thandee bahaare
(the cool breeze of monsoon) …
Chalke nayan moraa kaske re jiyaraa
(my eyes spill over by the squeeze of my heart)
Bachpan ki jab yaad aayere
(when I remember my childhood) …
Oh, my God! What a beauty! Taking the lyrics—penned by none other than Shailendra that are throbbing with sentiment—to the heart, Asha, portraying the emotions of a young woman who is longing for her natal home that she left behind and pining for her brother to come and fetch her home, sang it so impressively that it makes every heart quiver for a while.
One cannot but marvel at the gentle vibratos; the drawling of the words, ‘bulyare’, ‘bhijaayre’, ‘yad ayere’ , albeit softly, as though to show how yearning the woman is; the abrupt enunciation of the word ‘chalke’—in the line, chalke nayan mora kaske re jiyra — in contrast to the wringing of the word, ‘kaske’, perhaps, to make us feel the squeeze of the heart; the lovely transitions from one phrase to the other, all in her usual low registry, pouring out the grief of the craving of a young woman for her bhaiyaa to come and take her to her babul’s home so expressively in her soft voice.
The lovely and poignant lyrics of Shailendra that brilliantly captures a girl’s angst at her becoming a parayii — Babul thi main tere naajoonki paali (Father, I was brought up tenderly by you) Phir kyon hui main paraayi (why then, have I become an outsider)—an alienated one, to her own father who indeed brought her up so tenderly, were set to a melodious tune in raga Pilu by Burmanda in his signature folksy style, importantly, that gave enough scope to Asha to evoke contrasting emotions of hope and sadness that seduces listeners into a magical trance. Burmanda took utmost care to ensure that the underlying pathos of the song are not lost in the maze orchestration: the prelude of the song, if there is any, beginning with the strumming of ektara …tring…tring…tring… that simply tugs at one’s heart—just sets the tone for the forthcoming pathos, while the interludes of soft flute and the melancholic violin phrases that are brief with the least intrusion of the sounds of percussion instrument… have only carried forward the rustic beauty of the lyrics majestically. Simply put, coming together, Shailendra, SD Burman and Asha Bhosle created a marvellous song that remains ever memorable of that recurring longing of every girl for her babul’s home.
Now, listening to some such old Hindi songs that portray emotions of girls who, having married and left home, pining for what they have left behind—their childhood friends and those galliyan, bageecha, lanes and gardens in which they played together, that Ambua tale Jhule, mai ki pyar, swing in the mango garden and ma’s love and warmth and their yearning for all that related to their sweet natal home—I end up wondering: Is it that only girls/women undergo such pining for their native land and natal home that they have left behind?
For, how often I get nostalgic about my own home in the native place, the school and college that I went to, the lush green paddy fields all around my town with canals flowing quietly to their brims, the lemon orchards and the sweet fragrance of their inflorescences, mango gardens, the park behind the tank with the star-studded sky reflecting in its still waters in which I spent many evenings of my youth with friends talking about everything under the sky, … indeed I greatly miss those days which seemed would last forever, and long to revisit that “… land of lost content, / I see it shining plain, /The happy highway where I went / And cannot come again”…..And that makes my heart quiver—quiver in that longing for the days gone by and that home filled with lots of love and warmth which I left behind decades back.
What I mean to say here is: even boys/men too miss their native land and the home of their childhood. It’s, of course, a different matter that the fact of boys leaving their homes for distant lands, all in search of livelihood is a recent development, while the phenomenon of girls leaving their homes is in vogue ever since the institution of marriage came into existence. Perhaps, that could be one reason why most of these songs — “babul mora...; chal ree sajani …”; and thousands of folk songs airing these sentiments sung traditionally across the country —hover around women pining for their mai ki ghar — natal home. Had this migration of men too was there in the past, I am sure similar folk songs might have come into vogue.
Nevertheless, there is one gem of a Hindi film song every note of which echoes the dard and kasak pain and the intense craving that I undergo for my native land, the land and home that I have left behind in search of livelihood elsewhere:
Ai mere pyaare vatan, ai mere bichhde chaman
(O! my dearest homeland, O! my parted garden),
Tujh pe dil qurban
(I shall sacrifice my heart for you)
Tu hi meri aarzoo, tu hi meri aabroo
(you are my desire, you are my honour) …
chhodkar teri zammin ko dooore aa pahunche hai hum
(Having left you, I have arrived somewhere far from you)
phir bhi hai yahi tamannaa tere zarron ki qasam
(Swearing by your every particle of your essence, I still harbour the desire)
ham jahaa paaidaa hue us jagah pe nikle dam
(to take my last breath where I was born)
tujh pe dil qurbaan
from the film Kabuliwala. This oeuvre for motherland that was penned by Prem Dhavan, set to music by Salil Chowdhury, who used Rubab so effectively to set the right mood for the song and sung by Manna Dey with a deep feeling for the pathos that the words exude, tugs at my heartstrings. For, every one of us harbour similar longing for our native land.