President’s National Award winner Chand Didi sings no more but her music legacy still resonates in Mussoorie where she has taught music for free to young students for over 38 years.
Everyone knew her as Chand Didi. Chandralekha Tripathi breathed her last on December 26, in Mussoorie, Uttarakhand.
The 80-year-old, who studied and then became a lecturer at the Girls Inter College Mussoorie and taught there for nearly 38 years, was the epicentre of music in the hills of Mussoorie as young people from far and near flocked to her to learn music.
Chand Didi’s students will remember her sitting behind her tabla playing, as they danced and sang in front of her. Or, standing on her terrace, with her dog by her side, gazing across the valleys and hills as she perhaps planned what she would teach her young friends that day.
As part of Gaon Connection’s The People Project, which has documented lives of heroes among us, we had met with Chand Didi and her students.
“We learnt a lot more than music,” said Anshuka Tayal, one of her students. “I was shy and hated to speak in public, but at Chand Didi’s I learnt to open up and be more confident,” she said.
When she retired from her job, Chand Didi began teaching anyone who wanted to learn music at her home. And, completely free.
“I did not want any student of mine to feel bad that while someone paid fees, he or she could not. So irrespective of their economic status, I taught them for free,” Chand Didi had smiled and told Gaon Connection. “These children give me energy,” the President’s National Award winner (2001) had said.
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“I always enjoyed singing and was fascinated with the mic. I remember singing at home holding a glass to my mouth, pretending it was a mic,” the venerable musician laughed. She remembered singing in front of Jawaharlal Nehru as a child. “Music is your constant companion till the end,” she had added.
Chand Didi’s last rites were performed at Haridwar. She leaves behind her voice, her music, her dedication and selfless commitment. Many, many of her shishyas to whom she was a beloved guru, take her legacy forward and teach other young people music.