Bhagwandas has shared the stage with singers like Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Ghulam Ali (File photo)
About 5 months ago, Bhagwandas suffered a paralysis attack in the left side of his body and now he is feeling the same tightness in his right hand.
New Delhi At the peak of his popularity, Bhagwandas shared the stage with Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Ghulam Ali and Ustad Allah Rakha Khan. Then he made about 25 tours abroad. He used to go to exhibit his art in Holland, US, Belgium, France, Germany, Iran, Oman. On the occasion of India’s 50th Independence Day, he gave a special performance in Dubai. Today, 70-year-old Bhagwandas is living a life of neglect in a crowded transit camp set up for residents of Kathputli Colony in Delhi.
Five months ago, he had a paralytic attack on the left side of his body and he felt a similar tightness in his right arm. Bhagwan Das says, ‘I wish I could sleep peacefully even one night, when I did not feel pain and my stomach was full. When I was young on stage with my puppet or harmonium, the world used to swoon at me. The Prime Minister and the President were sitting in front to see and hear me.
Singer, who is facing financial crisis, proudly said, ‘I belong to the era when we were allowed to smoke in airplanes.’ Like most migrants of his generation, he came to Delhi when it was a vast vacant lot. He recalls, ‘I would have been about 10 years old, when my family and I left our home in Jhunjhunu, Rajasthan to come out of poverty. I come from a family that had a tradition of performing music and puppetry. Our family used to travel from city to city to fill their stomach, entertain people. Finally, we decided to stay in Delhi. There were 33 of us who had pitched our tents at a place near Shadipur. Then people started calling it a puppet colony.
In ‘Midnight’s Children’, Salman Rushdie describes the residents of Puppet Colony as ‘magic seers’. The place where the biggest mystics and famous people used to come. They were forced to leave their homes after a long legal battle. Now he is living his life in a makeshift camp.