I have been listening to her voice since the day I was brought home after my birth... have grown up listening to her voice day in and day out... celebrating the rains and filling up the summer evenings..worshiping love and longing... I used to associate her so much with the song "Krishnakoli aami taarei boli" that for the first few innocent years of my life I thought she herself was "Krishnakoli"!
Songs like "Jodi tor Daak shune keu naa aase..", "Marono re tuhu mamo shyam soman..", "Kkhato jato kkhoti jato..", "Aami Chitrangada", " aachhe dukkho, aachhe mrityu", "Krishnakoli aami taarei boli..", "Nahoy tomar jaa hoyechhe taai holo..", ''aamar Sonaar Baangla.." have become her own because of her unparalleled rendition.
I have spent my childhood amidst the huge number of LP-s that my dad had lovingly collected back then - my mornings, noons and bedtimes were filled with the songs that he kept on playing on his record player-the songs were mostly Rabindrasangeet sang by Suchitra Mitra, Konika Bandyopadhyay, Debabrata Biswas, Hemanta Mukhopadhyay and many other celebrated artistes. The image of this smart-looking spectacled lady with a boyish haircut was very familiar to me thanks to the innumerable LP-covers that I was used to seeing as I was learning to walk and talk.
As I grew up, I knew this lady would appear on the television screen (Kolkata Doordarshan) whenever somebody important passed away- she would sit with a harmonium and sing "aachhe dukkho, aachhe mrityu" again and again-- I did not know that it was a recording and it was played whenever somebody passed away - I particularly remember occasions like Uttam Kumar's demise and Indira Gandhi's passing away.
Summer months saw us visit Rabindra Sadan to attend various Rabindrasangeet and NrityanaTyo programs- Even when we lived in Dhakuria and Baba did not have a car, Baba did not shirk from taking two troublesome kids along with Ma all the way to Rabindra Sadan to attend these programs.
I remember one such evening- The program was graced by two legends among others - Hemanta Mukhopadhyay and Suchitra Mitra. Ms Mitra had sung and Hemanta Babu came to the stage. He looked frail and sick. As he started to sing it was clear that he was not well as he was losing breath and his magical voice sounded very strained. Some of the audience started talking - almost a protest started stating that they have not paid money to listen to such a performance. We saw Suchitra Mitra climbing the steps to the podium and stand beside Hemantababu- She hugged him and was in tears - then she looked at the audience and appealed in a stern voice to leave the auditorium - the murmurs stopped in an instant. Such was the personality and character of this lady who had seen many ups and downs in life. She believed in Tagore's philosophy, " Bhalo Mando Jahai Aasuk.. Satyere Lao Sahoje"..
The no-nonsense, no-excess human being has left for her heavenly abode on January 3, 2011- she was having her lunch while the momentary cardiac failure took place - her death was just as she herself was - short, simple, crisp, pertinent.