Friday, August 11, 2017

137. TENACITY THY NAME IS WOMAN




Thousand Full Moon: Shrimati Gokhale 81+
Contributed by: Dr. Raghunath Boradkar


July 24th was the first day of Shravan. It was also the birthday of my music guru late Mahadevbhai Shastri founder of Sangit Upasana Mandir Annie Besant Road Surat.
We shifted from Baroda [Now Vadodara ] to Surat in 1965. My husband was promoted as Head of the Department of Pharmacology, in the newly started Government Medical College Surat.
He was already known in his field for his research and administrative abilities. We were new to Surat and the college staff quarters were under construction and hence we had to find an accommodation elsewhere. Luckily we got an accommodation in one of the bungalows, belonging to the contractor Shri Shirishbhai Desai. A part of it was rented to us but the rest of the bungalow was under the control of his sister Shrimati Urmilabe Bhat, who was a minister in the Gujrat Government. It was a little difficult to put up with the pomp and show that goes with the minister's post and yet we stayed there as there was no other alternative available.

It so happened that my daughter Vidya, suddenly fell ill. We consulted Dr Rajendra desai a friend of ours. Unfortunately, it was found out that she had Rheumatic heart and had to undergo complete bed rest. She had to be lifted up and carried. To add to this my sister in law in Mumbai fe[[ ill and I had to shift to Bandra. Everything was well for some days. But then one day Vidya vomited in the morning and we had to admit her to a Hospital. It was said that there was an infection but she became critical and also started getting fits. She used to get up from sleep and suddenly catch me and tightly hold me. Nothing helped and on the third day she breathed her last. It took a lot of time for me and Partha, my son to get over the shock. As my husband had to go back to work we again shifted to Surat. It was impossible to stay in that house now, it looked so empty without Vidya. I pestered him to look for another house and found one in Adarsha Society on Ghoddod road, not a very populated area, and far from the maddening crowds. One day one of his colleague, Dr P B Roy professor of pathology staying in the same colony paid us a visit. We knew each other very well and our children used to play together. Vidya was his favourite and he considered her as his daughter. He suggested that I should learn music and said it could be a good diversion to console my mind. He offered to introduce me to my Guru. So I asked my husband if I could go and then went to see Guruji.
The house was quite old. The family consisted of three sons a daughter in law and a grandsons.
The sons were employed. One of them was a vocalist and the other one played Sitar. The youngest was a tabla player and was Guruji's favorite. Mahadevbhai was a disciple of Pandit Omkarnath Thakur belonging to Gwaliar Gharana. He was a pleasant God fearing personality and had a deep understanding of music. Music was his world. Since his wife's death he had confined himself to his room and taught music to those who came to learn. If someone did not practice he used to be sad. He immediately agreed to teach me. He had some words of consolation for me. Music makes you forget everything he said, adding that life and death was God's will so let’s surrender to his will and get lost in the eternal joy of music. I was asked to come at 2 pm sharp. I adjusted accordingly making arrangements for Partha to be looked after and did not want to miss a day. When I used to reach there, I used to see Guruji tuning the Tanpura.  “Be calm”, he used to say and after I would settle down, would ask me to start with the first note SA and when I could do that he would ask me 'What are you going to sing today?' I had told him that I had started learning music from the time when I was ten years old. It's not that I knew many ragas but I had acquired a sound knowledge of musical notes. I always tried to sing exactly like chitale Kaku, my childhood teacher, and though not a complicated TAAN, I could easily sing the AALAAP. She used to say,   Manik when you sing with me I feel like singing and I get an encouragement’ and both of us used to sing and get lost and would forget the existence of time. When her little Raju started crying we stopped and wound up and kept the instruments aside. Was the losing the sense of time and one's own identity was a state of SAMADHI? I did not know the word samadhi then, but I did not want to come out of that state.
I was busy with college studies, Social gatherings, Drama, and playing. At home my father and mother discussed Tatwadnyanmanjiri and I found it boring. In a way the atmosphere was conducive to my learning music. It was fun going to Gol Bag with friends and singing film songs or Bhavgeet under the starry skies. I appeared for Madhyama of Gandharva  Mahavidyalaya of Ahmedabad  and passed with good grades.

It was 1968 when we shifted to newly built staff quarters in the Medical College campus, New civil Hospital Majura gate Surat. In September, Surat and Bharuch both cities were flooded.  Rivers crossed the danger mark and water entered the cities. We experienced very difficult days then. In October Chhaya was born and Partha got a sister. It was as if Vidya had returned. This made everyone happy. These were breaks in my sadhana as I could not go for my music lessons and yet I used to get up early in the morning and practice with dedication amounting to religiosity.  Gradually everything was normalized. We found a girl who could look after Chhaya and I started going to Guruji again. I was happy and overjoyed and found that my music acquired a different dimension and became more enjoyable. I used to feel the difference. Ragas have their natural attributes and not all ragas can give you a continuous feeling of joy. Puriya and Marwa have similar notes but Mawa expresses the poignancy of the late evening and Puriya reminds you of a woman separated from her lover and expresses her longing and pain. Guruji used to say, “Our music is the mirror of our life”.  A great loss in life makes the music more meaningful. Tears used to come to our yes while singing such soulful ragas. Rushikumar and Jayubhai and his wife Madakini said that
Guruji had loved his wife very dearly. His choked voice sometimes used to give vent to his feelings. 

In 2017 now all these memories are tending to fade from my consciousness and I hardly recollect any complete ' CHEEJ ' taught to me by him. But when we sing I remember only one raga, one Bhairavi 'Jogi mat ja  mat ja  mat ja' and for me it never ends. It may sound a little egoistic but when Guruji was told that we had to go to Jamnagar he wept. “A disciple like you is found only once in a life time”, he said. He also said his life would be barren again. He did have another disciple but she got married and went away. Her main interest was basically commercial. She wanted to become a Radio Star and sing on Ahmedabad Radio. Guruji had said 'She knows the notes well but she has not found the soul of music'.  She knew the ‘SWARA’ but had not found the 'SOOR' and I was interested only in the SOOR and getting lost and forgetting myself. “This forgetting is God realization” Guruji had said. Guruji knew the reason why we were transferred to Jamnagar. That pain, the DARD would express itself while teaching and singing a CHEEJ like 'Soutan ke sang rat bitai Piya ghar aja' and we used to get lost with tearful eyes.
Thirty years passed in between and then I met Mrs. Yoginitai Garud when I came to Pune. When I met Dr. Boradkar in Pune he casually asked me if I still sing. I said no.  He told me about Yoginitai and her class and we once attended a Guru Pournima function of the class where I heard her and was impressed. I then met her and asked her if she could teach. She said age is no problem if you have the desire. So once again my life was full with music. Yoginitai encouraged me and I continued. I learnt a lot and experienced some moments of ecstasy and I should say had a short but memorable time. But past never stops to haunt, and leaves its marks. Yet I have some beautiful memories of my musical journey to cherish and I live by that. 

Music was my world, a different sort of world that I was bent on having. Life doesn't always give you what you want and there is a limit to everything. I have no strength to fight now and I am tired, too tired. So be it.  Oh. God!









 



Thursday, July 27, 2017

136. The sea never disappointed me


Thousand Full Moon: Shrimati Gokhale
Contributed by: Dr. Raghunath Boradkar


Shrimati Maniktai Gokhale is 81 +. She is an accomplished classical vocalist and excels in culinary art. I met Gokhales in 1964-65. We shared a common love for sea and used to frequent a near by sea resort. I still remember those days and the fun we had. Gokhales later went to Zambia and Libya. Here Shrimati Gokhale describes her days in Malta and feels they were the best days in her life.  Here is an account of her life in her own words.

I felt like a butterfly caught in the net when I stepped in the house of my in laws after marriage and that too to solve their problem. My father was about to retire and was in a hurry to get the daughter married. Opposite our house lived a family and the boy was to be a doctor, and they wanted a daughter in law to take care and look after the aged. This was the background of the marriage.  Marriage for convenience and need, so there was no question of liking. My mother was influenced by thoughts of Sane Guruji and so was I. Khara to ekachi dharma  Jagala prem arpave: The only true Dharma is to give away love to the world.  The marriage was solemnised under such circumstances. It was someone’s convenience and needed no mutual liking and acceptance. I have been experiencing the consequences of this throughout my life.

The elderly passed away in due course and I carried on with life coping with children and his, my husband’s, frequent transfers. I soon realized that he had no space for me in his heart or mind and had never thought of joining me in my pain or pleasure. He did get recognition for his work in his field but there were no good words for me, rather I was told that I had destroyed his life. May be it was to be that way.

One day he suddenly decided to change the job and we found ourselves first in Zambia and then in Libya. Libya was ruled by Dictator Colonel Gaddafi and he had ordered that all education must be in Arabic. But our children were in convent school. Somebody suggested that all ex-patriots including Indians, educate their children in Malta. Malta had good convent schools and hostels. There was a Maltese doctor working with him and he gave all the information and then it was decided that as the children were small I should stay in Malta with children. I was a little uneasy but there was no other alternative and I thought it better than moving about in a burka in Libya. I thought I would be able to breathe freely on this island near Europe, so I decided to go. I think it was July 1976, summer holidays when one day we reached Valetta, capital of Malta, at noon by Maltese Airways plane. Malta is a small island in the Mediterranean sea between Europe and Asia and to the  south of Italy. Yellow rocks everywhere, not much of land but sea to be seen from anywhere and within 15 minutes’ walk from any point. A group of three islands Malta, Gozo, and Kamino make the Republic of Malta. Strategically situated Malta was ruled by the British, Turks and Greeks. The southern tip of Italy is hardly 60 miles from Malta. Malta became known because of the second world war. It is also very near Egypt and Libya. Mainly a tourist center. Malta has ship repairing docks. It is known for beautiful churches named after Jesus and his disciples. The people are religious, hardworking and lovable and adjusting with the outsiders easily. We saw the Mediterranean Sea while landing, till then I had only read about it as a landlocked sea. It was exhilarating to actually see it. The deep blue sea and the colorful boats swinging on the waves were so beautiful a sight that it could make you forget yourself. The tourist season begins from March and the rush starts. It doesn’t snow in Malta but it’s very cold, and windy with heavy rains. The sea is beautiful from March to December. It’s excellent for swimming from end of June till October. We reached right during the Tourist season. The schools were to open from first October and therefore we could spend the entire vacation  on the sea shore, swimming and resting on the beach. The thought itself made me happy. We got a place to stay which was very close to the sea. It was a nice flat with good neighbors. A grocery shop was nearby and vegetables were available on a hand cart. The best part was that whenever I went to the balcony for anything like drying clothes or some other reason I could see the deep blue sea. On the first day we came out just crossed the road to reach the beach. When I entered the water I felt as if someone was embracing me with love. The sea in a way took away all the anger, disappointment and pain from me and made me forget everything. For hours I stayed in the water and the sea never disappointed me. Exploring the sandy beach, rocky beach and the golden beach every year we spent three years in Malta and yet the feeling that I had no one here, remained. The reason was that he, my husband, had created his own world in Libya where there was no place for me. I returned to India with a sad mind but I couldn’t forget the different moods of that beautiful sea, various celebrations of those beautiful churches and the serenity of the prayers and of course the people who every time I was out, used to say, “Enjoy yourself Madam, Take good care of the children.” When I remember those days, I question myself whether heaven could be any different and I thank God for giving me that wonderful time of my life.

Now I am not angry with any one nor do I have any grudge against anyone. The children are now well settled and busy with their own affairs. When needed they come. If I have any inconvenience they come and take care of it. I am happy and content. The only wish I have now is that before I become a ‘discarded item’ I should get called to my rightful eternal place, that’s all!

||Shri Ram Jay Ram Jay Jay Ram||