Remembering Raj Begum – Badri Raina

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Raj Begum was a leading 20th-century Kashmiri singer. She was recognized with the Padma Shri award in 2002. Begum was born in Srinagar in 1927 and died on October 26, 2016.

Badri Raina | Caravan Daily

 

Sixty years after, eyes bleak

With age, I see the swoop

Of swallows skim the rich

Skin of the waters near the

Zero bridge as the crimson of

The autumnal skyline fades

Ever so lingeringly into the

Rich greys of twilight. I

Begin to hear the thud of

Strong, seventeen-year-old

Footfalls of meaty adolescence

Striding to manhood along the

Langurous river bank as the sounds

Of the city subside to an early

Srinagar night

 

And then it is that from

Jhelum’s other bank, a radio

Breathes the fatal waft of your

Song, meshing the longing of

The purest Eros with a throw

Of voice that pulverises my

Rebellious blood into the thrall

Of willing submission

 

Sixty years after, I have not

Heard a more compelling reach

Of soul winging towards me

On a voice of paralysing vulnerability

You did not just sing, as others do;

You beckoned from the caverns

Of timeless love for a consummation

Those mere singers hardly know

Among the Valley’s ineffable

Splendours were, are, will be you.

 

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