Chapter 29: Session 29
The whole night the wind went on blowing in the trees. The sound was so beautiful that I played Pannalal Ghosh, one of the flutists that Pagal Baba had introduced to me. Just now too, I was playing his music, but he has a way of his own. His introduction is very long, so before Gudia called me it was still only the introduction. I mean he had not started playing his flute yet. The sitar and tabla were preparing the ground for him to play his flute. Last night I listened to his music again after perhaps two years.
Pagal Baba has to be talked about only in an indirect way; that was the quality of the man. He was always in brackets, very invisible. He introduced me to many musicians, and I always asked him why. He said, “One day you will be a musician.”
I said, “Pagal Baba, sometimes it seems people are right: you are mad. I am not going to be a musician.
He laughed and said, “I know that. Still I say you will be a musician.”
Now, what to make of it? I have not become a musician, but in a way he was right. I have not played on musical instruments, but I have played on thousands of hearts. I have created a far deeper music than any instrument can - noninstrumental, nontechnical.
I liked those three flutists - at least their music - but not all of them liked me. Hari Prasad always loved me. He never bothered that I was a child and he was old, and a world famous musician. He not only loved me, he respected me. Once I asked him, “Hari Baba, why do you respect me?”
He replied, “If Baba respects you, then there is no question. I trust Pagal Baba, and if he touches your feet, and you are just a child, I know he knows something that I am incapable of knowing right now. But that does not matter. He knows; that is enough for me.” He was a devotee.
The musician I listened to last night, and was again trying to hear just now before I came in, Pannalal Ghosh, neither liked nor disliked me. He was not a man of strong likes or dislikes - a very flat man, no hills, no valleys, just a far stretching plain. But he played the flute in his own way as nobody else has ever done before, or can ever do again. With his flute he roared like a lion.
I once asked him, “In your life you are more like a sheep, a Bengali babu.” He was from Bengal, and in India, Bengalis are the most unaggressive people, so anybody who is a coward is called a Bengali Babu. I told him, “You are an authentic Bengali Babu. What happens when you play the flute? You become a lion.”
He said, “Something certainly happens. I am no more myself, otherwise I would be the same Bengali Babu, just the same cowardly man that I am. But something happens, I am possessed.”