Queen Harish, Balabhaskar- Great lives that our roads stole from us…
In February 2018, I visited Jodhpur, Udaipur and Jaisalmer for a week with my husband, on holiday. The entire trip was extremely wonderful and we carried home a bundle of precious memories and experiences, thanks to the amazing organizational skills of my dear friend and batch mate in Rajasthan- Rajiv Dasot. The weather was beautiful, roads were wide, food was delicious and stays at the various guest houses and police messes were comfortable.
One of the best experiences we had was a trip to the desert at Jaisalmer where we rode a running camel over sand dunes to watch sunset and I flew on a hanger over the sand against the setting sun, red tinted skies, over unlimited sand hills and over the beautiful desert resort “Desert Springs” where we had dinner. Accompanying the dinner was a show by one Queen Harish and party. Thanks are due to Amit Lodha, the very smart IG then posted at BSF in Jaisalmer who is also an acclaimed author of the bestselling novel ‘Bihar Diaries’ who had made this arrangement for us. He commented, “It will be lucky if there is a show by Queen Harish along with dinner, you will enjoy that tremendously. But usually he is very busy performing at various places within and outside the country.” We had not heard of this person before so it didn’t mean much to us then.
As we sat on a table facing a podium in the open air enjoying our drinks, a few people arrived and started to play on musical instruments, mostly percussion ones. It was just some usual north Indian music, typically of Rajasthan. After around 15 minutes a few women dressed in dancing robes swayed in. One among them was exceptionally pretty. She was tall and very slim, extremely fair with long plaited hair. She was wearing highly decorated long skirt, blouse and a guilt covered long shawl over her head. Glittering jewellery adorned her neck, ears and arms. She was also wearing hip chains and anklets. She danced with extreme grace; her body swaying elegantly to the drums which were beating fast. Her smile was radiant and expressions beautiful. Suddenly, the aura changed magically from dullness to a quick brightness quite akin to a show of fireworks. I realized that it was her who transformed the sight so delightfully that we espied. Once the music and dance subsided she took a mike and started to speak. I froze.
It was not a woman’s voice. Though the voice was masked to sound like a shy yet naughty woman’s tone, the manliness in its lilt was hard to mask. Still I did not doubt the gender of the person. I just felt disappointed that such a pretty lady had this harsh voice. She spoke in Hindi welcoming us and briefly giving an idea what she and her team will be doing to entertain us. I whispered to my husband, “Is this a transgender person?” “Does it matter? Just enjoy the show.” He whispered back. So I relaxed and enjoyed the beautiful spectacle for over two hours. In between when she/he left the stage, dullness pervaded which dissipated when she/he came back in different attire. Dancing with knives, fire, swirling around us, pulling us into the orgy, quizzing us, telling stories about her/his various tours and shows, he took each
Recently I sat shocked holding the newspaper in my hands reading the news of the death of Queen Harish and another 4 members of his team in a road accident. I saw the photo of a young man as well as another picture of him in dance robes. A man! His grace in dancing was such that he could excel only in women’s garbs. His beauty was such that it would have wasted had he performed a ‘thandav’ or a ‘break dance’ a-la-Michael Jackson style. What a waste of supreme talent! I felt the same pain of reading about the accidental death of a maestro of God’s own country Kerala, of the famous violinist Balabhaskar and his cute two year old daughter, again in a car crash. True, the roads are cruel. They cause plenty of premature deaths. But what really cause such accidents? There are several factors including mechanical defects, over-speeding, rash and negligent driving and driving while tired and sleepy. We may ponder for hours on end about the reasons why so many people lose their lives on the road. Automobiles are a great invention. Good roads are the mark of urbanization and development. It saves us so much time while helping us to reach various places easily and effortlessly. Whatever and however much the law enforcement does to prevent accidents and permeate awareness on safe commuting, whatever be the extent of penalty that is imposed, not a day goes by without loss of several innocent lives on our roads.
I fondly remember Balabhaskar, the artist with a boy’s demeanor who shared the dais with me at a function in All Saint’s College, Trivandrum. His stunning smile, the stars in his eyes, the shy way he talked to me about his wife and the love marriage at a young age. I remember the way he played on the violin on stage- both classical and fusion music, transforming his whole personality into a beautiful musical note. It was mesmerizing to watch him move along with the waves he created on his instrument, the facial expressions merging into a melody hitherto unexpressed. That smile which resonated with the strings, the way his head moved and the way he took the audience to an ethereal arena of sweet melody! It is a great, great loss for us, the music lovers. I also saw the only film in which he acted with Meera Jasmine wondering how a musical genius can be a good actor too!