By Aditi Tandon
Source: Tribune News service
The Nightingale of Punjab sings no more. After playing hide and seek with death for over a month, the legendary Surinder Kaur finally surrendered her defences late last night.
She died at a hospital in New Jersey, USA, where she had been admitted on May 3 following a series of medical breakdowns, which resulted in serious complications. She had been in coma for most part of her hospitalisation in the USA, where she went on May 3.
It was only once during her prolonged illness that Surinder Kaur spoke to her daughter Dolly Guleria, who lives at Panchkula. All she said was: "Mai theek nai haan" (I am not well). While Dolly is still seeking solace in the last few words her mother said to her, Surinder Kaur's fans across the region are mourning a double tragedy. One - the grand old lady of Punjabi music has departed without the slightest of shivers; and two - her body is unlikely to be brought to Punjab, for which she lived and died.
The news from New Jersey is that Surinder Kaur will be cremated there tomorrow morning. Back home in Punjab, the world of Surinder Kaur's family and fans has come crashing down. They are in a state of shock, and are unable to digest the fact that Surinder Kaur will never be able to get back to her roots.
''She dedicated a lifetime to the promotion of authentic Punjabi music. She lived to lend a voice to Punjab, its exuberance, its flourish, its richness. Today she is no more, and to our misfortune she passed away in an alien land, which was only meant to be her temporary halt. We wish she came back at least for one last time. We are still waiting for her,'' said a shattered Dolly Guleria, the eldest of the three daughters of Surinder Kaur.
The other two - Nandini Singh and Pramodini Jaggi - are settled in New Jersey, where they had been looking after their ailing mother for a month.
But that was not to be. In fact, Surinder Kaur had been ailing since December 22 last year when she suffered a heart stroke and was admitted to General Hospital in Panchkula. Later, however, she looked up and personally went to Delhi to receive the coveted Padma Shri. It is another matter that she was painfully aware of the events that delayed the honour for so long, despite her unparalleled contribution to Punjabi music. But even when she received the award she was regretful that the nomination for the same had come from Haryana and not Punjab for which she worked tirelessly through five decades.
Surinder Kaur was born in Lahore on November 25, 1929, and she recorded her first song with elder sister Parkash Kaur in 1943. The song: "Maavan te teeyan ral baithiyaanâ€¦." is still fresh in social memory. And it will remain so for all years to come. For, the melody Surinder Kaur struck was truly timeless, truly immortal.