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An ingenuous young thing once remarked to me that she had heard Mehdi Hassan. I marveled. I do not think one can hear Mehdi Hassan: one has to do more than just listen, for he is silence. He cannot be heard with the ear. He is not a person: he is an open wound, a vast ocean of pain and passion. He is the manifestation of the collective agony of ruined lovers from time immemorial. He is a Force, originating in a long-forgotten past when Love herself was born. He is her faithful witness and recorder. The voice of Mehdi Hassan is not one voice; it is a harrowing compound of the tortured shrieks of the unfulfilled. It is a primal moan of elemental longing, singing of an agony and ecstasy beyond the finite world. It defies death and fate, full of a scarred optimism about the ultimate victory of Love. It is inimitable, unstoppable in its arrogant sweep. The giant feathers of sound are like the contemptuous brush-strokes of a Titan on the canvas of the cosmos. The rough edges and gaps are invisible when viewed from a cosmic perspective, the only vantage point from which one can get a complete view of the phenomenon, glimpse its amazing intricacy and completeness. Earthbound, we reach only a tiny portion of the behemoths construction, and after groping it with the numbed fingers of a stupefied mind, mistake the part for the whole. The three blind men and the elephant all over again! Nay, it is only I, a hapless time-traveler eternally trapped between the eons, who can intuit Mehdi Hassans true natureunfathomable, unsilenceable as long as there are hearts that love. In my endless penance from one Eternity to another, serving out, life after life, an ancient sentence of unrequited adoration, I perceive but a single saving grace in my sufferingas I ride the moonbeams of tomorrow, keeping me company are the silvery slivers of sound that also are Mehdi Hassan.

Subroto Mukerji