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Monday, June 14, 2021

Meet Assam’s Bikramjit Baulia, folk singer on call to help fight Covid blues

Baulia’s initiative has inspired others to volunteer too — not just to sing, but also lend a ear to patients in isolation.

Written by Shreya Das | Kolkata |
Updated: May 27, 2021 11:52:56 am
covid 19 pandemic, assam man sings for covid patients on phone, singer sings for covid patients, patients in isolation can call for songs, Trending news, viral news, good news, indian expressThe singer who also runs a medicine shop says the experience has been quite rewarding.

For a week now, Bikramjit Baulia’s phone has not stopped buzzing. In his pharmacy in southern Assam’s Silchar, he has fielded nearly 400 calls from Covid positive patients across the country, singing to them in his melodious voice.

“As a singer, I always believed in the healing power of music,” said Baulia, whose surname is Kar, but prefers to go by Baulia, given his love for Baul folk music.

So last week, the 33-year-old shared his number on social media, offering his services as singer on a call for any Covid patient who wanted a morale booster. Earlier, he had come across a Facebook post by popular Bengali singer, Lopamudra Mitra from Kolkata, who along with some artistes, had volunteered to sing for patients in isolation. Moved by the post, he decided to do the same. “I thought it would really bring in some joy or relief…maybe for a few minutes at least,” he said.

The first two days were quiet — in fact, some even criticised his “publicity stunt” on Facebook. But on the third day, the post went viral, and it’s been an avalanche of phone calls since — not just from Assam, but Delhi, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, and even Bangladesh.

From mostly folk songs to a few Bengali classics and even Hindi film songs, he has been singing music from a wide genre.

“These calls have come from patients not just in home isolation,” said Baulia, whose talents as a singer are quite well known in his hometown, “I got a few calls from hospitals as well. And it’s not just one person per call, many have said that the call was on loudspeaker so more people listen to it together.”

Baulia said that he was well aware of the stigma the pandemic had brought. “People are not only battling the virus, but also the infection of society,” he said, “I used to see that if vendors sold vegetables to a household with an infected person, others would stop buying from him.”

Baulia’s ‘music therapy’ now has takers not just from those infected by Covid. “Many others [not Covid positive] too have called and requested me to sing. I understand that everyone is feeling lonely and depressed these days and I can relate to it, as I have been struggling with my mental health as well,” he said.

Apart from his singing initiative, Baulia, who runs a medicine shop, said he has been delivering medicines for free to patients and elders living in the area. He added that although his hands were pretty full as a frontliner worker, he hadn’t turned away the calls.

“I may have missed a few if I’m running an errand or things are too busy at the shop. But I always try to get back to people later,” he said.

Baulia said he is overwhelmed by the response so far. “I had someone, whom I had spoken to twice or thrice, call me to say that they tested negative,” he said, adding, “Surely, that person had no reason to keep me in the loop. But since my music helped them, they said it was only normal to let me know they have recovered.”

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