As another power cut makes it's presence felt, I think of the last time I met Jagjit Singh. It was this year, around May when I interviewed him. I have been a huge fan of his phenomenal voice and the depth of its melancholy, that he could generate so much pain struck me as an extraordinary gift. Having seen, the masterful " Arth" and losing myself in the two magnificent gems penned by Kaifi Azmi and sung with a pathos which tears your heart apart...all these thoughts were ringing in my head when I hopped and skipped to meet him. We did meet, for once the press conference was on time and I was almost bursting with an inner cheer that I was meeting a person whose voice was great company, one which does not question and whose presence calms you invisibly. When I started interviewing him, my first question was about his style of singing, to which he asked me about Faiz Ahmed Faiz, the great poet about whom I had only scant knowledge. Then he asked me if I knew his body of work, then refusing to answer any questions... all through the interview all I could see was a person who did not match up to the phenomenal gift he was known for- his voice. I came back that day with a sinking feeling in my heart that a person so big can be so small and chided myself for matching a person and his voice.
Needless to say, that put me off his music for I couldnt imagine liking that. A few months back, I was watching Shyam Benegal's magical " Mammo" in which Jagjit Singh made an entry back into my life with his magical " hazaar baar ruke hum...hazaar baar chale hum" This time I kept the voice away from the man and allowed myself to lose my knot of discord in the impenetrable depth of his sorrow which connects instantly with any one looking for a companion. The nature of sorrow is such that it reaches out to other suffering instantly, attracting it like bees to flowers, you identify the feeling and once the connection is established it is as impossible to breakaway from it as it is from your first love. The quality of Jagjit Singh's voice had that uniqueness... of wrapping itself around you, making it's hold around you so breathlessly quixotic yet rendering you unable to move away from it, divine and all consuming.
When Pt messaged me today that he passed away, I felt a pang that I never listened to him live. Impressions are such fallible, things that they stay with you long after you've turned your back away. Today, I am glad that I met some one like him, though not exactly what I wanted happened, he was a real tangible person who showed me that he was just like you and me: human but blessed with one extraordinary power, that of a voice which comes back to you the minute you shut your eyes.