Song of the mute
Sibdas Kundu / Balasore, The Pioneer
It sounds unbelievable, but it is true. He is mute, yet he can sing bhajan (devotional songs). While medical science alone can explain how this is possible, he is a living example that proves a physically challenged person can not only earn a living with dignity but also that nothing is impossible if one has strong will power.
Born deaf and dumb, Benudhar Das of Alasuan village of Khantapara can stun any one by singing at a stretch for three minutes. It appears as if he pulls the air in, produces the vibration (rhythm) and holds it till he ends singing. Jagannath Bhajan, Mira Bhajan are his favourites besides Odissi and Sambalpuri songs. He can also play harmonium. "I am comfortable with Bhajans and it has been always my first preference, however on demand I can also perform on Odissi and Sambalpuri too", mentioned Benudhar.
One can not prevent oneself from admiring the artist by seeing his performance. In the want of permanent livelihood, he travels miles and one would find him requesting at schools , government offices and work places, to let him show his ability . His remuneration is often limited within Rs 50 to Rs 100 by generous donors. Even with abject poverty, he never allows his self respect to go down. He won't accept any donation without performing ." If you can help , then arrange a permanent job for me" this the only request he generally makes.
Benudhar has completed his education up to class VIII from a school for handicaps in Bhubaneswar. He learnt the art of singing with a lot of struggle and according to him Rabinarayan Mahapatra and Prafulla Kar( artists of state repute ) are his Gurus. While the 40 year old speechless, had been singing since 15 years of age, he claims to have performed before the state wing of All India Radio(AIR).
Living in poverty, with his wife and two sons, Benudhar has no grievances against any one. He has received a house under IAY from the district administration.
" It becomes very difficult to earn a livelihood under this uncertainty , hence my earnest request to everyone is to give a permanent source of income either by engaging me with DD or AIR or to provide artist pension " says Benudhar.