Chitra Singh Wants The Bharat Ratna For Jagjit

Ever since his death On October 10 in 2011 the Ghazal maestro Jagjit Singh’s wife Chitra Singh has been fighting a lone battle to get her husband the recognition that she thinks he deserves.

“I think he deserves the Bharat Ratna, no less…The country must give him his dues.Manmohan Singhji released two commemorative stamps  of Jagjitji. That was okay. Theek hai. But what about the recognition that Jagjit Saab deserves?”

   The Ghazal maestro’s widow,herself a renowned Ghazal singer in the 1970s and 80s,  had  been persuading Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi  for many years to award  a Bharat Ratna to her husband .

Sighs Chitraji,  “They gave Jagjitji the Padma Bhushan in 2003. 11 years have passed since. Every year we expected him to get  the Bharat Ratna.”

 In 2012 at a function in Delhi on Jagjit Singh’s first  death anniversary Chitraji met Sonia Gandhi to invite her for a function on the first anniversary.

And Mrs Gandhi,though graciousness personified couldn’t help with the Bharat Ratna.

Says Chitraji, “Soniaji was extremely gracious.I was told I wouldn’t be given more than 5-7  minutes. But she spent 40 minutes with me. I raised the subject of the Bharat Ratna for my husband.But it didn’t go any further.I raised the issue with Manmohan Singhji who was very close toJagjitji.He too was very gracious. He said he’d try his best.But nothing happened.”

   Chitraji feels Jagjit’s fans should begin an online campaign for his Bharat Ratna. “When I meet his admirers and fans they all say say he should get the Bharat  Ratna. But that’s it. It never goes beyond that. If his fans really feel he should get the Bharat  Ratna then they need to hammer it into the new government .”

Chitraji feels the new BJP government  would do the needful. “Narendra Modiji has said on Jagjitji’s death that not only had we lost a great musician but Gujarat  had lost a friend. My husband had a soft corner for Gujaratis. He had also met Modiji.”

 Five years have passed since Jagjit Saab  left us His lonely wife  been making valiant efforts to keep his memory alive. “Well, I am trying.I would think younger generations would respond to his music as  enthusiastically as the previous generations. Jagjitji always had a huge range of listeners from 2-year olds to 82-year olds. I am very optimistic about JagjitSaab’s music carrying in. He is the only contemporary musician who has kept pure music alive. That cannot die.

The Ghazal maestro’s widow doesn’t see his legacy going forward. “I haven’t heard it in anyone else. But I am sure there will be someone who comes close to Jagjit’s standards of excellence. It doesn’t have to be in the style of Jagjitji. But it could be in the same league of excellence. But I don’t see it coming from anyone.”

Chitraji feels her husband’s vocal virtuosity was  directly linked with the quality of human being that he was. “Jagjitji’s excellence as a musician had a lot to do with the kind of person  that he was.He wasn’t just a one-man musical institution. He was also an exceptional human being. The music came from his soul.And that voice…it’s like a call from divinity. To have that again is a tall order.”

Chitra Singh leads a lonely memory-suffused life of a recluse.  “I’ve suffered one tragedy after another.Everything that was precious was snatched away from me. I am just an empty shell walking around. I am going through all the motions of living. But there is no soul left in me. Even then, in spite of tragedies(loss of son and then daughter’s suicide) I was somehow coping. I gave up singing. Life went on because Jagjitji was with me. But then after he left life is finished.

She will not contemplate a return to singing. “Some people have put that idea in my head.But all said and done I haven’t sung for 33 years. The riyaaz the discipline the hours that need to be put in…wohsab mere paas nahin hai. The voice is  a very delicate mechanism.After what I went through my life changed completely.I can’t even dream of singing today.”

Chitraji tried living in the house that she shared with her husband but gave up. “Jagjitji and I lived at Breach Candy together for 42 years.When my daughter passed away we moved to Bandra to be with our two grandchildren whom my daughter left behind.Since then we were there. But after Jagjitji passed away I felt a tremendous pull back to Breach Candy.So I went back.But  I couldn’t stay there without Jagjitji. That house was so lonely . Our Breach Candy home was purposely secluded from all traffic . With him gone it became like a tomb.All the energy was gone.Every single day I was commuting between Breach Candy and Bandra.I would sleep in Breach Candy and my grandchildren pulled me back to Bandra in the morning. I couldn’t keep up with this routine.So I shifted back to Bandra.I live with my son-in-law and grandchildren.”

It is only Jagjit Singh’s memory that keeps her going.  “I don’t know where I find the strength to carry on from day to day.I have been blessed with an inner strength.That helps me to carry on.Also I know that I have the mission of carrying on Jagjitji’s legacy.As long as I am on this earth I’ll continue doing so. There is so much more to do. I don’t treat him like a memory. It’s as though he is still with me I am not talking about only his musical legacy. I am talking about his entire personality. His vibrations and energy are around me all the time. I have to remind myself he is no longer with my physically.”

The maestro’s wife wants to fulfil his unfinished dream. “He wanted to start a music academy where talented  youngsters could be trained  to take over as future stalwarts. His dream didn’t materialize in his lifetime. I want to make sure it happen in my lifetime. I don’t know if I will be able to fulfil his dream. His legacy is awesome . There is also a foundation in his name which takes care of the needy, medically and in any other way possible. There’s a lot of work to be done.I don’t know how much of it I can carry out.”



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