THE MAGICAL FINGERS OF TINKORI CHAKRABORTY

On a Wednesday evening at the end of August 2014, Tinkori Chakraborty, the magical dubki player of Nadia, wandered out of an ashram near Krishnanagar not too far from his home in Nabadwip, where he had gone to visit, and since then he remained untraceable for about three days till his body was seen floating in the waters of a small and dead pond. The official post-mortem report will probably tell when the man had died and how. He was intoxicated perhaps and could not hold himself and maybe that’s why he fell into the waters from where he could not rise. Where he was walking, going from where to where and why, only he would know. Perhaps such details are of no consequence.

The circumstances of this disappearance and death of Tinkori Chakraborty at about 70 years are in fact unimportant. There are others like him who have gone in the same way, Ramananda, Gour Khepa, and there will probably be more–not many though, for there aren’t many such madmen, even in the world of our mystical singers. More important than the death are the circumstances of life of this enormously gifted, powerful and temperamental artist. He was a complete musician and like other master bauls, he also played the dotara and sang. It is meaningless to grieve the death of such a man–can we grieve the coming and passing of a shooting star? We can only be grateful for its touch of light. The rest of our mundane lives flow in regular rhythm; we live and die to an order and drink and smoke to measure and we would hardly ever slip into the waters of our neighbourhood pond.

Tinkori lived in Nadia for the most part of his life, learning music from his father, and then from the company he kept. There was music in the air he breathed, but there was also a lot of music in his veins–something that was his and his alone. There can and never will be another dubki player like him. He was also much travelled in Europe and elsewhere. Those visits did not seem to affect his core for when at home he wandered about in his close circle of friends and followers or from mela to mela, unknown to the rest of the world and unconcerned that such a world existed. He was a regular at our Baul Fakir Utsav, a close disciple of the brilliant Subal Gosai, who too is gone now. Such voids which can never be filled, for Tinkori, Subal, Gour, Nimai–they come from a time which itself is disappearing.

Our association with Tinkori is only through our Baul Fakir Utsav and I doubt he would know either of us by name or face. We watched him and heard him from the distance. So now we also bow to him from our distance. And listen in the quiet of our home to the first recording which introduced him to us–an audio tape of Narayan Chandra Adhikari and Tinkori Chakraborty. We share with you the first track from that cassette. Magic fingers which melted in the waters of a stagnant pond. Perhaps there is a new swirl in those waters now, a new sound rising from its depth?