Nightingale of India gets her songs on CD


Weavers, weaving solemn and still,
What do you weave in the moonlight chill?...
White as a feather and white as a cloud,
We weave a dead man’s funeral shroud.

— Sarojini Naidu

It’s a man’s tribute to his grandmother. Nothing unusual about it. But when it comes to the “Nightingale of India” Sarojini Naidu and one of the descendants from her father’s lineage, then it certainly calls for attention.
A renowned poetess-linguist, an erstwhile freedom fighter who has been jailed several times for her catalytic role as an activist in India’s independence movement, the second Indian woman to become the president of the Indian National Congress and the first lady to become the governor of the Uttar Pradesh — Sarojini Naidu could be extolled and commemorated with many such feathers in her cap. But the fact of the matter which remains unchanged is that this multifaceted, noble persona’s creations are yet to find an e-route. For no efforts till date have been made to encapsulate her collection of widely-read poems on a CD, especially during the times that we dub as the digital age.
Armed with limited resources, the proud scion of the Chattopadhyays’ legacy, Abhijit Chattopadhyay, takes it upon himself to make this maiden initiative successful.
“I know the entire onus lies upon me. But I’m determined to lead my dreams to fruition. Besides being one of the most dynamic figures among women of the 20th century, Sarojni Devi was also quite instrumental in paving the path for English poetic traditions in India. So this album is long overdue,” he insists.
In fact, the audio CD is produced from his own stable of STM Cassette Company.
To those not informed, Naidu’s father Aghorenath Chattopadhyay was an heir to the aristocratic landlords of Brahmanbaria district (now in east-central Bangladesh) but was ostracised from his own caste and community for his radical views. He was later sheltered and patronised by the custodians of Brahmo Samaj during the golden period of renaissance in the undivided province of Bengal, which gave rise to a staggering socio-cultural and religious reform movement all over India.
“He was my great grand uncle, youngest of the four siblings. And my grandfather Mathuranath was the eldest. He was a learned man, a great thinker and much ahead of his times. I had heard a lot about his stories from my father as a child. No wonder then his daughter had been a pioneering achiever in the respective field she pursued and became an accomplished stalwart of her times too,” raves Abhijit, who is actually Naidu’s grand nephew in relation.
Early this week, an official announcement was made about the CD which will shortly see its ceremonious launch on October 12 in Kolkata.
Though the venue is yet to be fixed and finalised. Titled A Pilgrimage of Love, the compilation will unveil over a dozen love-gems from the versifier’s pen to regale the literary buffs.
Moods and themes varying from spiritual love to amorous affairs; from motherly affection to nature-worship have been strongly retained in the series.
The CD includes famous poems like The Poet to Death, Indian Weavers, A Love Song from the North, et al from Naidu’s august repertoire.
A few selected poetic pieces were read out by acclaimed poets Subodh Sarkar and Sharmila Ray at the pre-event release programme.
Incidentally, they have also lent their voices to elocute the string of 16-17 poems in both duets and solos on the records.

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