Le Gordon Wells
It’s April 2020 and the global lockdown continues, whether you’re on the West coast of Scotland or in West Bengal. We’re largely “confined to quarters” in the international bids to lessen the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The internet has many faults, but now offers the potential to afford mental release in times of physical restriction, at least to those fortunate to have access to it. Here’s an example.
Animesh Biswas is from Nadia, West Bengal, India. Graduating from the Department of English at the University of Kalyani, he is an independent reasearcher working on Bangla folk songs. He has no training in music, but is learning from the folk singers he meets during his research work.
Attending the North-Eastern Hill University International Language Fest in October 2019, he made acquaintance with Gordon Wells (who was speaking about Island Voices, and its potential as a model for other language communities) and they’ve maintained contact through Facebook since. Having heard him sing in Shillong, Gordon was delighted just a few days ago to receive a recording from Animesh over Facebook Messenger, made in his home in Nadia. Followed by snaps from his camera, and some toing and froing over recording revisions, the ingredients were quickly all present for a new video and Clilstore unit, presenting a Bengali song in the Baul tradition with wordlinked transcript. Ta da!
In addition, Animesh provided this English translation of the lyrics of the song:
You wish to chain my hands and my feet. How will you chain my mind?
You may shut my eyes and my mouth. How will you bind my spirit?
I couldn’t go to the banks of the Jamuna to fetch water. Nor, Sakhi, could I get a glimpse of him who stirs my passion.
You may refuse my wishes and deny my caress. How will you confine my passion?
I bring no shame to my family, nor stigma. What’s wrong with making him a garland round my body?
You may lock me in a room, block my way. How will you alter the cosmic design?
Animesh describes the Baul tradition as being at the confluence of Vaishnavism, Sufism, and Tantric Buddhism. Devotion to the Almighty is the essential component, here expressed through the love of the devotee Radha for Krishna.
Speaking of this song, he says “I think in a way it conveys how pent-up we are in today’s world. Even though in literature we get to visit our dreamland vividly, in actual life it is a distant possibility.”
Perhaps we may also take inspiration from Radha’s spirit of defiance and determination to transcend earthly shackles in times of physical privation?
Tadhail air Island Voices – Guthan nan Eilean
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