Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Baikuntha Mallick – Behind The Voice of Jatayu

Jatayu

My non-Bengali readers should forgive me for this emotional outburst for a persona who lies hidden and clouded from our views, yet we could summon his words to suit any occasion. And we often would. Enthused by a conversation between some Felu da fanatics, I dug out my Felu da novels and transliterated a complete record of (as perfect as it could be) Baikuntha Mallick, a erstwhile teacher of  Athenium Institution near Garpar Road, Amherst Street Post Office. His biggest devotee or admirer, our very own Lalmohan Ganguly a.k.a. Jatayu can recite his works at any conceivable occasion and location. Lalmohan babu has been seen confronting any attempt to find faults in Baikuntha Mallick's works.
Despite of Lalmohan babu's lowbrow literary sense, Baikuntha Mallick's prolificity for any situation and location cannot be debated.

Felu da has composed a couple of poems, a limerick and a riddle couplet in Lalmohan babu's honour. In Hottyapuri, Felu da depicts Lalmohan babu's works in a cavalier way:


Bujhe dyakho Jatayur kolomer jor,
Ghure gechhe rohossyo kahinir mor,
Thor bori khara,
Likhe tara tara,
Ei barey likhechhen, khara bori thor.


In Gosaipur Sorgorom, Felu da made a witty couplet in a cipher about Lalmohan babu's name.

Roktoboron mugdhokoron, nodi pashey jaha bidhiley moron.
(Roktoboron = laal / Mugdhokoron = Mohan / Nodi Pashey = Gaang / Jaha Bidhiley Moron = Guli)

It seems we're drifting away from the main topic. Let's 'cultivate' the great works of the unknown legend, Baikuntha Mallick!

Chronologically, Baikuntha Mallick first appears in Hottyapuri in which he has been heard twice. Standing on a lonely beach at Puri, Lalmohan babu recites the last two lines of a poem for which he had won a prize in Elocution when he was in Class VII.


Oshimer daak shuni kallol mormorey,
Ek paye khara thaki eka baluchorey.


Felu da points out that Baikuntha Mallick has compared himself with a stork in the poem as it's a little weird and unimaginable for any other species to enjoy the serene beauty of a sea standing on one leg against strong wind.

Subsequently, Lalmohan babu summons Baikuntha Mallick again in the precincts of the Mukteshwar Temple in Bhubaneswar where he recites boldly:


Koto shoto oggyato Michaelangelo,
Ekoda ei Bharotborshe chhelo,
Nirobe ghosichhe taha bhaskorje bhaswor,
Bhubaneswar!


When Topesh modestly points out that great poets don't vandalise common words for the sake of rhyme and rhythm (as chhilo became chhelo in the poem), Lalmohan babu confronts and snaps back, “Poet-er background na jene verse criticise korar bod obbheys ta kothay pele, Topesh?” And then he mentions that Baikuntha Mallick was from Chinsurah (current Chuchura) where people pronounce chhilo as chhelo.

One of the longest poetries of Baikuntha Mallick which is a mash-up of poetic observation and advice is in Ebar Kando Kedarnathey. Lalmohan babu mentions that the great poet has been to Kedarnath and Bodrinath before the age of modern transportation. So, his poetry is like a time travel:


Shohorer joto kled, joto kolahol,
Feli pichhe sohosro jojon,
Dekho chole koto bhoktojon,
Himgiri besthito ei tirtho pothey,
Sudhu aaj noy, sei purakaal hote,
Sathe chole Mondakini,
Atol gambhirjo majhe khipro probahini,
Tobe shuno ebey obhigger bani,
Deb dorshon hoy jeno bohu koshto mani,
Giri gatre, shirno pothe, jatri awgonon,
Pran jaai jodi hoy podoskholon,
Tao chole ashwarohi, chole dandi-bahi,
Joshti-dhari briddho dyakho, taro klanti nahi,
Achhe sudhu atol biswas,
Sob klanti hobe dur, purno hobe aash,
Jatra ontey birojen Kedareshwar,
Sorbogun, Sorboshoktidhor,
Moha tirthey, moha punnyo, hobe nischoy,
Uchcho konthhe bolo sobe, KEDARER JOY!


In Darjeeling Jomjomat, Lalmohan babu verbalize his awe after seeing the Kanchenjungha for the first time through another verse:

Oyi Kanchonjonghe!
Dekhechhi tomar rup Uttor Bonge,
Mugdho netrey dekhi mora tomare probhate,
Snajhe te arek rup bhul nei taate,
Tushar bhaskorjo tumi, moder gourob,
Sobe mile tomarei kori mora stob.


After that Lalmohan babu points out a grammatical nuance of his favourite Baikuntha Mallick:

“Sombodhone A-kar ta Ee-kar hoye jaai – seta ke kemon kaje lagiyechhe kobi, dekhechho Topesh? Eta great poet-er lokkhon.” Even though this is applicable in poetry, but Topesh seems unimpressed and grudgingly accepts Lalmohan babu's observation.

And then Lalmohan babu unfolds the beauty of Kashmir and Srinagar in Bhushorgo Bhayongkor:


Kori noto sheer,
Tomare pronomi Kashmir,
Kumarikar opor prante,
Obosthan tobo Bharoter uttor simante,
Rajdhani Srinagar,
Jhelum-er jole dhouaa apurbo shohor,
Koto hrod, koto baag, koto bagicha,
Anyo nogorer sathe tulona korite jaowa michha.


To understand the geographical vastness of Baikuntha Mallick's poetries, let's shift to Nayan Rohosso where the poet slams Chennai for being stereotype.

Boroi hotash hoyechhi aj,
Tomare heriye, Madraj,
Bhasha hetha durboddho Tamil,
Anyo bhashar sathe nei kono mil,
Idli ar Dosa kheye triptibe rasona?
Ore baba, e sohore keu kobhu esona!


From Kashmir to Kanyakumari, Darjeeling to Shantiniketan, Baikuntha Mallick takes us for a joy ride with his elaborate and rhythmic tempo. In Robertson-er Ruby, Lalmohan babu pulls out another one of Baikuntha Mallick's beguiling creation from his pocket – on the bank of Kopai.

Jirno Kopai sorpil goti,
Mon bole dekhe monorom oti,
Dui pashe dhaan,
Prokritir daan,
Dule othe somikorone,
Bole debe Kobi,
Anka robe chhobi,
Chirotore mor money.


Yet Baikuntha Mallick has often been lambasted as a passionless chronicler of travels who only offers a proviso of specific stipulations, conditions, or limitations through his poetries. In Jahangirer Swano Mudra, the poet romanticises the moon in the wee hours of night. Lalmohan babu recites.

Aha, dyakho chander mohima,
Kobhu ba sugol rouppyo thali,
Kobhu adha, kobhu siki, kobhu ek faali,
Jyano soddyo kata nokh pore achhe nobhe,
Se tukuo nahi thake, jobe,
Ashe Amabossya,
Sei raate tumi tai,
Achandrampashya!


Lalmohan babu apprise Topesh that Baikuntha Mallick has written the lines with a lady in mind.
“Bujhtei parchho, ekjon lady ke address kore lekha...” to which Felu da wryly replies that Lalmohan babu has managed to draw the attention of another lady with his recitation, the octagenarian aunt of Felu da's client.


Before drawing the curtains, there's another notable poem at the end of Jahangirer Swarno Mudra. Lalmohan babu praises Felu da's prowess through Baikuntha Mallick's verse.

Awbaak protibha kichhu jonmechhe e bhobe,
Eder mogoje ki je chhilo ta ke kobe?
Da Vinci, Khana, Lilaboti,
Sobare smori ami, sobarey pronoti.

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