Shehnai is silent

A few days back, the musical world lost a gem, Ustad Bismillah Khan. I remember him as the person who sat in our old tape recorder and played for us in the wee hours of Narakachaturdashi (Diwali) every year. I enjoyed the soft music that played in the background while I reluctantly got out of my slumbers and joined my Mom for the arati. I also remember him as the man who threatened to return the prestigious Bharat Ratna because he felt he was 'ignored'.

I know him as the Muslim man who stayed in a Hindu dominated place and worshipped Allah and Krishna with the same love. I know him as the man who lived in Varanasi for the whole of his life and wanted to die in the same place and did it. A person of a minority religion stayed in a place which is the religious hub of a rival religion, crossed the barriers of religion and hatred, and managed to win the hearts of people. He proved a point and that point was evident when Hindus and Muslims alike thronged his house on hearing the news of his death.

The master, with his Shehnai, managed to do something that the leaders of the nation couldn't. May be it's time to coin a new proverb 'Shehnai is mightier than the Prime Minister's power'. All I can say is, "Wah, Ustad".