Umm..ummm…ummm..aaa….aaa….thodasa muskurake nigaahein milaiye…mujhko meri hayaat ka maqsad bataaiye...
“Munni Begum hai na?” I could hear S maamu say.
Ammi came into the room. It was me. Even when I was an adolescent, I had a full-bodied voice. Those young days, as I have said so often, were filled with eclectic music. My uncle mistaking me for Munni Begum was a huge kick. I am aware that most people rate her lower than Iqbal Bano or Mallika Pukhraj, but she was a singer and she sang the songs I liked…and it made me different. No high-pitched trill. I did not want to be a nightingale; I wanted to be a vulture with its kill, the heavy sound of breathing as it heralded life and death in one breath.
A few years later an older acquaintance told me about the similarity again. He said I laughed like her. “Where did you hear her laugh?” I asked.
“I did not…when she sings certain ghazals, it seems like laughter.”
No one makes such comparisons anymore, alas. But Munni Begum is memory, mazaak, mehek…
If I become objective, then I find tremendous madhoshi, the sufi meets seductress:
niyyat-e-shauq bhar na jaa'ye kaheen - Munni Begum