Tribute Music

Her strings have fallen silent

Geetha Bennett and Frank Bennett   | Photo Credit: M_MOORTHY

She went down fighting, Geetha Bennett did. It could be considered a relief for her and her close family, which witnessed her battle spanning three decades but Geetha Bennett will be missed. For the warmth that she exuded. A bundle of energy, she was always ready to oblige the Desk with anything it wanted — from a photograph and an article to a column. The celebration of her father’s centenary brought us closer and she was constantly in touch, from California — supplying pictures, linking the Desk with relatives, who had more.

Her health condition had prevented Geetha from travelling to India for a couple of years and she was elated when given the green signal in the April of 2017. “I’ve been given a clean chit, I can come,” she said the happiness visible in her voice. The concert that she presented later that month in Chennai as a tribute to her father was outstanding, so aesthetic, her brief interludes full of josh. “It was Appa’s blessing. I could feel his presence,” she said later.

She delivered the column — ‘Strings of Thought’ — promptly, often writing from her hospital bed. It was apparent that she adored Prof. S. Ramanathan, her legendary father, remembering every bit of his music and savouring each moment that she spent with him. It was with a missionary zeal that she went about uploading on youtube, his kritis — both vocal and on the veena. “It is not easy, I’m not able to hold my breath but I’ll continue as and when possible,” she said. It was for this project that she opened up about her health condition in 2016. “I have little time, have a long way to go. My students have appealed to me to teach them all of Appa’s kritis. They want me to upload them for posterity. I think that is the reason I’m still around. The Almighty has a purpose,” she said. The voice cracked ever so slightly but returned to the familiar cheerful cadence.

 

Family was close to her, sisters and brothers always supporting her. But it was in Frank that she found a real blessing. “My Valentine,” she said. She drew strength from him — both in music pursuits and in her prolonged treatment. She often said that he was more than a husband — playing the role of a caring mother, bosom friend and steadfast ally. He helped her find her feet in a new country and did everything possible to promote her talent. Son Anand, she said, gave her a morale booster, whenever she was down.

Accepting condolences, brother Tyagarajan said, “Her will power was amazing. She didn’t give up her music at any point of time.,” Her music has been digitally saved but it is for the remarkable resilience and positive attitude that Geetha, the person, will be remembered by all those, whose lives she touched.


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Printable version | Oct 15, 2021 12:16:15 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/music/a-tribute-to-geetha-bennett/article24642319.ece

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