A beautiful, romantic and even more than that, a sad song. While listening or rather reading the poem, I can almost visualise the story, and that brings a lump in the throat. A masterpiece by the great music director Salil Sen, who incidentally a poet too, and this is one of his poems.
The theme of the song is out in the opening stanza itself when the poet clarified that it’s not a fairy tale, so don’t expect that all would be happy. The wetness was specified when it said that the garland (story) was woven by plucking blooms at their youth and then wetting them with dew.
The story is about a wife of a farmer. The word used, Badhu, literally means wife, but it gives one a picture of a very young one, either still a bride, or in that frame of mind (it was her honeymoon period is mentioned). With that assumption and also her behaviour, that tries to indicate that stage of life, I have taken the risk of calling her a bride.
Assuming both the singer, and the poet were of the period, I assume the period of the poem is 1942. In a single page they bring about the tragic condition that happened in the Eastern India and though it tells the tragic tale of one woman, it was the tale that was of millions (3 millions died as per the statistics – a heartless subject).
The reason the avoidable tragedy took place is there in a single line. “Kutiler Mantre, Soshaner Yantrey” – Following the advice of the crooked the brutal tightened its crushing grip.
The crooked here is of course the local Indian politicians. Who allowed the tragedy to take place, some through inactions, some through misinterpretations of the signs, and some through machination. The machination was mainly by the local politicians, who not only escalated the matter, but also played down the seriousness, which many a theorists say was deliberate. The misinterpretations are there even today, by some of the most celebrated economists of today, incidentally from that region.
The brutals referred were of course the British Empire and its representatives in India and of course personally Churchill himself who didn’t much care since “starvation of anyhow underfed Bengalis is less serious than that of Greeks“, or his officials who refused to accept the evidence on the ground, preferring their own interpretations of the cause of the famine.
The end result is of course this, what is depicted in this poem, the most heart wrenching might be the last stanza.
Unfortunately it still happens, not in such a mass scale of course, but once a family goes through it, will it bother of whether there are another 3 millions along with it?