Monday, June 17, 2024


Dhaka Tribune

OP-ED: Remembering Mita Haque

Commemorating the passing of a master singer, and a great friend

Update : 12 Apr 2021, 12:31 AM

After the passing of Indra da (Indramohan Rajbongshi) last week, I wrote to my friend, “Who’s next?” I meant who is next in our music circle. I did not think of Mita Haque, although Mita was not in her best health the last several years. Finally, corona joined the march of other cruel maladies, and she lost the battle.

My acquaintance with Mita goes back to the early 70s. We were a few years apart, and her husband -- late Khaled Khan Yuvaraj, the noted actor -- and I were mates in Dhaka College, a relationship that further cemented over the years. As I write this eulogy, many fond memories with Mita along the lanes and by-lanes of our musical pursuits crowd my mind.

Besides on the stage of Ramna Batamul, Mita and I had performed on a good number of stages and TV programs at home and overseas. She came to Melbourne and stayed with us in 2008. It was a Pohela Boishakh program organized by Shurolok in the famed Federation Square.

Mita spent a good number of days visiting her students’ homes, and enjoyed the seafood and coffee that Melbourne could offer.

It is hard to comment on Mita’s mastery of singing. Great voice? Holding the notes perfectly? Sustaining them with great power? Understanding and delivering Tagore’s melody and words in a most balanced way?

I guess these words do not do justice in praising her. Mita had the uniqueness to delve into the hearts and minds of all who heard her, be it on stage, or TV, or through her numerous audio records.

Mita travelled with me and some other artistes to Shilaidaha, Kushtia, for a shooting that was featured in my documentary Bangladeshey Rabindranath (2011), done on the occasion of Tagore’s quincentennial celebration. I felt hesitant to direct her singing, given her big name and mastery over the subject.

I asked her to come to the studio in Uttara and directed her recording “Ami kemon koriya janabo amar juralo hridoyo juralo,” she lipped in the shooting at Shilaidaha. Mita knew the song to some extent but needed to brush up on it.

It took her no more than 10 minutes to go through the notation book I had carried with me, and soon the recording was done with impeccable quality, exactly the way I had wanted it to happen in the context of the documentary.

Mita said aloud: “Chanchal bhai, apni bhalo gaoate paren. Khub bhalo laglo.” (Chanchal bhai, you can indeed train very well. Liked it). That was one of the most glorious accolades I could receive from a person, and especially from none other than Mita Haque.

Since then, Mita and I were guests in several TV talk shows on culture, mostly surrounding Rabindranath. She was a person with utmost patriotism and an uncompromising secular belief, and a Bengali nationalist ideology that she spread amongst her students and others she came across.

Mita and I would occasionally chat over the phone; either she would call or I would. We spoke mostly about our mutual health issues. She would scare me with the narration of her high blood pressure and stories of her kidney dialysis.

Our regular chats during the 2020 lockdown time centered around wishing each other well, and how we may still keep our heads high and not let our guard down.

Mita was fond of food, something she gradually understood should be avoided as much as possible. She asked me to visit her “after the corona was over,” for a meal with chapila fish and bitter melon (corolla), something we were both fond of.

Mita, despite her illness, agreed to my request to participate in a joint song production between Kolkata and Dhaka. She sang part of the song “Aloker ei jhornadharay dhuiye dao,” as six artistes from the two Bengals shared the stanzas.

She, assisted by her daughter Joyita, sang using her mobile phone, sitting in her home in Keraniganj, and sent us the video. Thus, the song came into being. It's available on YouTube and Facebook.

This was perhaps Mita’s last recorded song, although she participated in many live shows afterwards.

As we enter Bengali New Year 1428 in a few days’ time, we bid farewell to Mita. Here is the song you had sung, Mita, just last year. I dedicate my translation of “Aloker ei jhornadharay dhuiye dao” to you.

Goodbye, and have a peaceful eternal time, hereafter.

The veil of dust that had entangled me…

wash away by the cascade of light!

The golden wand of the morn, kisses tenderly on the forehead

of the one deep in me, entangled in the web of sleep.

Touch awake the slumbering one

with the dawn’s golden fairy wand!

From the core of the universe, let the light-crazed surge of breeze

bend my heart, bowing low!

Awakened by this joyous world’s bliss,

let my selfness wash away

let my impurity flee.

The silent eternal song sleeps in my heart’s harp

with no words, no rhythm, nor a tune.

Gently touch the quiet joyous band,

And awake that sleeping score.

From the core of the universe, let the light-crazed surge of breeze

bend my heart, bowing low.

(June, 2020)

Chanchal Khan is a Tagore exponent and a researcher.

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