Wednesday, 8 April 2009

The power to suffer in silence was Jonaki’s biggest quality, says her elder sister Sarmila Sinha

I am Sarmila Sinha, Joonaki's elder sister. Last year was a tragedy beyond the limits of my emotions and expressions. I thank everyone who paid their tributes to her, especially in this website. For some of our Bishnupriya Manipuris, there was a feeling of anger that she betrayed our society by going astray. There was also helplessness that she could not be saved. There was ambivalence to acknowledge her real worth.

Even though I am Joonaki's older sister, I always felt she was more mature and confident than me. I used to awe at her daring and fearless attitude towards life. She had a heart of gold- I still remember as siblings, I used to demand more from my parents and she never complained. 

In fact my mum says that Baby (Joonaki's pet name) would always insist that I got more toys or chocolates and she would be content just to see a smile on my face. When she was about 11 years of age and had already started her singing career, she would withstand hours of waiting with mum backstage before she was called out to perform at "Bihutoli". 

Even at that tender age, she would rehearse as a true professional for hours together with her band members. My mum used to invite all band members to our house for rehearsal; and one room was always occupied with musical instruments. We had good neighbours at Dispur, Guwahati, Assam who didn't complain about the high pitched music. 

She also passed HSLC exam with distinction in Science. She was invited to USA at the age of 17 years by our maternal aunt (Mala Sinha) and Uncle (Bitosh Sinha) after their American friend heard my sister's vocals and remarked that he would personally like to work with Joonaki and make music. 

My sister went to America at a tender age of 17 years, with only one dream in her mind- to be a musical star. Life was good in USA, she stayed with my aunt in Chicago, attended college, did part time jobs and also spent time in music. After about one year, she became homesick- a part of her had never left India and she longed to come back. She came back in 2001, and got enrolled in a college in Guwahati. 

But as time went by, she felt that she had a promise to fulfill and again started making plans to restart her musical career. She got an invitation to perform in Madison Square Garden and this time she took the challenge of going on her own to New York. 

She performed brilliantly there and also got anther offer to sing with the famous group "50 cent". This time she did not have the luxury to stay with our aunt and she saw the cruel side of life. 

She got a small job offer but she didn’t have enough money to support herself. She told me that at one stage she had to sleep in the office space, with no heating facility. She had barely enough to eat. But she kept this secret from us. Her biggest quality (also negative quality) is the power to suffer in silence. This capacity to tolerate and endure perhaps made her stronger and raised her threshold to suffer further. She kept the torch burning, and that was our Torch of Hope. She perhaps realized that success is not always for the well deserving, no matter how much you sacrifice; destiny is always one step ahead of you. 

I am not going into the details of her married life. She loved her daughter more than life and I think she sacrificed her life in the pledge of holding on to her vision of a noble wife and mother. In her last year of life, there was no burning desire to be a singer; there was only a burning desire to provide for her daughter. She died doing her duty. 

May her soul rest in peace.

This post is the comment by Sarmila Sinha in the article -


Life is short and we have never too much time for gladdening the hearts of those who are traveling the dark journey with us. Oh be swift to love, make haste to be kind.

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