Folk singer Reshma's eyes spoke deeper than her voice. I think this made her persona even more mesmerising. Her eyes spoke as she talked to me for a few minutes at the fag-end of a press conference at the residence of one of her show organisers in Panchkula a few years ago. It was probably her last visit to the region.
As news of her death in Lahore on Sunday after a long battle with throat cancer spread, I was reminded of how I was a part of the flock of journalists who had barged into the place where she was supposed to rest prior to her concert in Chandigarh. Glancing at the restless bunch of journalists, some armed with cameras, she looked amused and wore her typical smile before asking us to calm down so that a conversation could begin.
I was one of those who promptly sat on the carpet in front of her, while she, seated on a sofa along with her daughter, said in her trademark Lahori Punjabi, "Aaraam naal baijo, aaraam naal."
As the volley of routine questions pertaining to her past, present and future ended, one of us asked her to comment on modern music, which most believed is more noise than music. "Nai nai, eye aj kal de kalakaar vadiya kam kar raye ne… bohat vadiya kam ho reha hai, ustaad bande ne eh, bohat vadiya kam kar rahe ne," she said, seemingly lauding modern music artistes. My gut feeling, however, was that she meant just the opposite.
It was at that moment that I looked into her eyes and calmly asked how come then there had not been any song like, "Tak patri waalya lekh mere, mere huth wich vinginya lika ne, mere dil da mehrum awegaa, jaan hale hor udikaan ne." On hearing the lyrics, her face lit up, eyes glimmered and she looked at me so lovingly that I was in awestruck.
She placed her hand on her left ear and closed her eyes. To the utter surprise of everyone, including the host and her accompanists, she started singing the song. It was one of my favourite songs sung by her. After singing the first two lines twice, she touched my shoulder and said with moist eyes, "Eh gaane ruhani ne (Such songs are soulful)".
Reshma is not with us today but her soulful look, resonating voice and smile will always stay with me. She was a symbol of love, music and peace that know no boundary.