16th July is the date Kala Bharati was founded 39 years ago.
Just spent Thursday, the 16th of July, doing exactly what Bans and I did every year, ever since 1981, which was to revisit moments, memories and mementos of our lives in alien soil with Kala Bharati, in as Bans would put it ‘ Ananda Bhava’. Our lives are dotted with these moments of happiness, presently being referred to by me as Martinique moments. Michel Laverdiere has captured them in a card and gifted that to us using Usha Mukhedkar’s words from Udbodhana , our podcast.To learn more about this, you may refer to the card I have attached to this email.
I emerged out of this solo trek through almost four decades of a storied past, with a clear eyed view of what lies ahead for me. Although Bans is not with me anymore, there is no doubt in my mind what he expects me to continue to do. That’s why when an acquaintance, who met me after a long disconnect expressed surprise “Oh, you are still at it.” I replied, somewhat dismissively , “What choice do I have!”
I reread an article by Bans recently, entitled Guru Poornima at Kala Bharati July 2015 in which I rediscovered the passion and fervour with which Bans supported and contributed to the work being done at Kala Bharati I was totally taken aback that in his article Bans had uncharacteristcally spoken with gay abandon about my service to the Art of Bharata Natya… so very unlikely an act for Bans to have unabashedly written about Kala Bharati work in such laudatory terms.
I also chanced on a letter by Prof Jean Rene Chotard , written in 2010. A self-proclaimed art lover, he was one of the members of the Kala Bharati Board of Directors. Despite their different backgrounds , there is an uncanny similarity in the views expressed by these two erudite men, who had been with Kala Bharati since its inception and been cognizant of its achievements.
As I stand on the threshold of Kala Bharati’s 40th anniversary, I sense the presence of these two men :: Harbans Nakra and Jean Rene Chotard putting the mantle of responsibility on my shoulders to leave behind a trail of the legacy built and served by, as well as bequeathed and belonging to many . On the 16th July this year, I drew the mantle closer to me in an act of affirmation and wrote the following haiku:
Bans just being Bans
turning over a new leaf
tells me what to do
and went on to translate it into French :
c’est simplement bans
qui tourne une page de ma vie
pour me dire quoi faire
I sent this to Michel Laverdiere, for the first time with a request to correct it and not for translation. He inserted an apostrophe between the C and E in cest and promptly sent it back with a comment ,‘Very touching .’ The first haiku I wrote in French had thus met its necessary approval.
I come, on the eve of our 40th anniversary to you, seeking for your blessings, goodwill and support to celebrate our life and times at, with and for Kala Bharati in the spirit of Thanksgiving with a sense of appreciation and gratitude.
I pledge to heed Bans and Jean Rene’s advice and try to live up to their expectations of generating activities with Martinique moments at Kala Bharati. This is being sent to members of my niyogi–nakra family ( I have had the good fortune of meeting all of you), to members of Kala Bharati Parivaar, to our close friends and associates and well wishers. I request you to join me in this pilgrimage so that we may honour our roots, recognize our sources of help, pay tribute to our associates and collaborators, and duly embrace our achievements with pride.