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Ready for life beyond hospital

Guwahati, April 28: Music icon Bhupen Hazarika will be released from hospital on Sunday, nearly a fortnight after he suffered a mild cerebral stroke midway through a Bihu soiree and had to be wheeled into the ICU of the Guwahati Neurological and Research Centre (GNRC).

“The treatment for stroke was over a few days ago. He is now relaxed, sleeping well and having a normal diet,” GNRC chairman-cum-managing director Numal Chandra Borah said.

A statement issued by the hospital late last evening did not mention the date fixed for the multifaceted maestro’s release, merely saying that he would be “discharged soon”.

Hazarika had taken to the stage at the Noonmati Bihutoli in Guwahati on April 17 despite being unwell, but could not complete his performance. The backache he had complained about turned out to be the effect of a cerebral stroke. As he was rushed straight from the stage to hospital, all that the audience could do was gape in shock. The concert was also being shown live on a television channel.

As his is wont, the maestro philosophised about the setback, describing his admission to hospital as a “strangely wonderful experience”.

“The stroke that hit me in the middle of a Bihu function was like powerful lightning before a storm. It tried to finish me off but could not do so. I am like the Brahmaputra, which always keeps flowing. But the mighty river has changed its course, too. So why not me'” the Dada Saheb Phalke Award winner asked.

On what he planned to do while taking a break from singing, Hazarika said he would devote more time to writing. His immediate aim is to publish his entire body of work in the form of a set of books. “All my works since the age of five will be published in three to four volumes. Over 70 per cent of the task was over before I was admitted to hospital,” he said.

Asserting that his break should not be interpreted as a farewell to his singing career, the balladeer said the exercise of writing would help him create new music for his legion of fans. “I would not have been a musician, singer and composer had I not been a writer. For me, writing is the best medium of expression. At this age, I have to sum up everything through writing to finally create songs for you,” he said.

Though reluctant to divulge more, he hinted that an autobiography was around the corner.

The singer also indicated his desire to set up an archive to preserve historical documents and artefacts relating to Assamese culture.

Close associates of the singer said the archive was his “dream project”.

True to his reputation as a jajabor (wanderer), Hazarika has not yet decided where he will stay for the next three months. “But I would love to stay in Assam, along the Brahmaputra,” he said.

In fact, one of Hazarika’s continuing projects is a documentary, Brahmaputra' An Endless Journey.

Asked whether Assamese music was safe in the hands of the younger crop of singers and composers, the maestro said: “I have faith in the young generation of singers, but I would like to tell them that they should sing and compose songs that epitomise the flavour of this land and its people.”

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