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Bhupen drinks life to lees
- 80th birthday finds balladeer scripting ‘endless journey’

Guwahati, Sept. 7:Moi aasik krisu joi, whiskeyek nokori bhoi... (“I have conquered the eighties, and I’m not afraid of whisky...)

Bhupen Hazarika, no introduction required, turns 81 tomorrow. But Assam’s iconic cultural ambassador remains as young as he was 50 years ago.

When the lyrics flowed today, at this new landmark, it was with the same passion for life — “jiban madira”, as he put it — that Bhupenda is looking at the years gone by.

Speaking to The Telegraph over telephone from Mumbai, Hazarika said he was “still on the move” but regretted that the mild cerebral stroke he suffered during Bohag Bihu had robbed him of “several months”. “I was forced to take rest,” he said. “But I know that I have to move on. It is not the end of the road. Not yet,” Hazarika said.

Hazarika had to be admitted to a private hospital in the city after he suffered a mild stroke while performing at the Noonmati Refinery bihutoli on the night of April 16.

He returned to Mumbai, where he has been based for the past several years, a month later. Since then, he has followed a strict regimen laid down by his doctors.

Though there will be numerous birthday parties, in Assam as well as in Mumbai, Hazarika will be at his Andheri West residence. “I wish I could be in Guwahati or Tezpur at this moment,” he said. Back home, chief minister Tarun Gogoi wished Hazarika a long life and hoped the singer-composer will continue to inspire youngsters.

Despite his health, Hazarika has been busy with work on his magnum opus, a 26-episode television documentary titled Brahmaputra: An Endless Journey. “I feel the Brahmaputra’s boundless energy in my own veins. Perhaps that’s the reason why I have managed to come this far”.

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