//After my ballads and my tunes, I do not find much more to say about myself. What more is there to say? I never wanted to show off myself. All I wanted to do was to remain as the Nikhad of the Sargam.
Today, at dear Salil's request, I am looking back again. I am narrating my memories about the old days as much as I can remember.
There is a proverb about Tripura. In their palaces, starting from the King, the Queen, the Princes, and the Princesses down to the servants, everybody sings. Nobody is said to be born in Tripura who does not have a tune in their voice, or cannot sing. In Tripura's paddy fields, the peasants sing and plough the field. The boatmen cannot row without hitting notes of a song. The fishermen sing and catch fish. The weavers weave with songs and the labourers toil with songs. The voices of the people there is a gift from God. I am a son of that soil of Tripura. May be that is why my whole life has been spent just singing. Music is my first love.
I was born as a Prince in the Royal Family of Tripura at a time of abundance. In our own house, I have seen all the dimensions of luxury; supremacy; fanciness and royal etiquettes. From childhood, our elders made us alert and aware that according to the royal customs, we maintain our distance from the public. They used to keep a careful eye on us so we do not mingle with those whom they would call commoners. I just could not abide by this rule. I do not know why, but ever since I can remember anything, I felt the attraction of the soil. I always wanted to stay near the soil. Those simple people of the soil, whom the elders called commoners, felt so close to my heart. Well, instead of inclining towards the non-commoners, from my childhood I gave the commoners all my heart and became a part of them. Nobody in the Royal Family approved or liked my attitude and behaviour. My Father also had no pride and prejudice, although he was a Prince of Princes, a Maharajkumar, the only heir to the Late Maharaja Ishanchandra Manikya, the Chief Minister of Tripura.
I am made in the die of my Father. His teachings are my foundation. To me, my Father was the perfect Mahapurush. My small sparks of the arts come from his training. I was the youngest among five brothers and four sisters. That is why Baba loved me a lot. He was well-versed in the arts and was a virtuous artiste. Baba could play the Sitar, with beautiful soft hands. He had a wonderful voice and could sing magnificently in the Dhrupad. He was an adept in painting and sculpturing statues. During Durga Puja, Saraswati Puja, and Kali Puja, my Father, the Late Maharajkumar Sri Nabadwipchandra Debburman Bahadur, would order the potters to leave while he sculpted the statues of the goddesses himself.
At Agartala, the Capital of Tripura, there was an education institute for Princes and the Royalty. It was called Kumar Boarding. There was no discipline there. The teachers were scared of the Princes. The professors were busy paying us royal courtesies rather than teach and discipline us. Baba did not fail to notice the indiscipline of the pupils at Kumar Boarding. He took me out of Agartala Kumar Boarding and brought me back to our house in Comilla. He kept me under his own tutelage. I was admitted in Class V at Comilla Zilla School (1).
It should be mentioned here that I was born in this Comilla on the first day of October in 1906 circa. My Mother is Queen Srijukta Nirupoma Debi.
Both the Royal Family of Tripura and our family had close ties with Kobi Guru Rabindranath Tagore. He was a close friend of my Father. Kobi Guru once visited Tripura. During that visit he stayed at our house in Comilla for a few days. Baba was his host. Baba sent my two elder brothers (the twins, Prafulla and Prashanta) to Kobi Guru's Shantiniketan and then later to St Paul's at Darjeeling. With me, it was different. Baba loved me so much that he did not let me out of his sight. He kept me under his direct tutelage. In the end, this turned out to be a blessing for me. Through his influence, Baba's multi-dimensional talents of the arts and humanities were implanted in me. My first Guru in classical music was Baba. In the evenings, Baba would assemble all of us brothers and sisters for worship. Sometimes he would conduct sessions of classical music.
Translated by Asrar Chowdhury. He teaches in the Department of Economics at Jahangirnagar University, Dhaka, Bangladesh. Email: [email protected]