A usual night of October, 1987. Sitting in his room, Md. Rafiq Ahmed was not doing anything much after completing his S.S.C. examination.
From a nearby house, a melodious track playing on gramophone, "Ei raat tomar amar" was reaching his room.
Blending with the calmness of dark nights this melody kept visiting the boy's room every night.
"The enchanting tone of flute in this song rings very clearly in my ear even now", says that 'boy', now a 46-year old man.
That was Rafiq's first introduction with long play records. Their familial bonding with the source of this melody, Joynal Chacha (Uncle), paved the way to get closer to the famous records of Hemanta, Satinath and so many. The two houses in Mirpur area found a new connection through this unique medium.
On his way to home from college, Rafiq started to pay a visit at this house every day only for listening to the records.
From Joynal's commendable collection of records, Rafiq began to travel in the tremendous world of melody.
"I was enchanted with the records, they can take you very close to the feeling of the artist. I could feel the singer's joy, sorrow or whatever feeling is it," says Rafiq.
Despite a hidden desire to have a collection of his own, the college-going, unemployed boy had nothing to do but going to the neighbouring house to quench his indomitable thirst for this classic medium.
After he started earning though, he brought 50-60 records home every week, Chowdhury Recording Store in Mirpur was the shop. Starting with that, he didn't spare looking into any place from Mirpur to New Market searching for new records.
"Before Eid festivals, my partner in crime Supriya bhai used to come to Dhaka. When people bought new clothes and shoes for Eid, we two used to spend all the money on records," says this simple, polite middle aged man.
When cassettes and long play records were being replaced by Compact Disc (CD) and Digital Versatile Disc (DVD) around 1994 and record stores were being closed in Dhaka, Rafiq got the opportunity to acquire more records from the sellers.
Such was Rafiq's devotion that he bought 2,000 records and two turntable sets, one pair of speaker, and two sets of amplifier from Antora Recording Store situated in Jashore in 2007. The shop got closed after that.
Rafiq's collection was getting bigger by the day. He got many records brought by his friends and relatives who visited India. Till now Rafiq follows the same way. Thus the number has crossed 10,000 now!
Rafiq's house at Ibrahimpur area in Dhaka is full of long play records. One portion of his wide drawing space holds two small showcases full of discs, two whole sets of gramophone player and two speakers.
Another large showcase in the guest room is full of LP records also. Four shelves are fully loaded with records. There's another set of gramophone player and speaker in that room and also a small showcase with records.
Rafiq didn't leave any possible corner or shelf empty. He kept small pieces of clothes in each showcase to clean the dirt on the records. He spends a lot of time in taking care of his records.
It seemed that through these old artistic creations we could travel to the golden age of long play records. Time has made the covers shrink a little but the melodious sounds coming from them hasn't changed a bit.
Rafiq's wife, Shamima Begum, is the ideal partner who elevates her husband's passion. She says, "I always loved listening to old or classic music. After getting married, when I found him totally absorbed in music, records and all these, I began to appreciate it as much."
Rafiq's dream is to make a museum in his house. To fulfil that wish he has built the two rooms in 7th floor with special care. He has shifted some of his turntable sets and records to that rooms and already started to pass time there in his leisure time listening to music.
Rafiq dreams of making a museum in his house someday, two rooms are already allocated for the purpose.
He says, "I have spent a lot of time and money after this. But what will happen to them after my departure? What if my children don't feel the urge to preserve them? I can't think of this asset being dumped. May be if I get some help from any institution or people, I can make a museum and open it for all."
In our busy days of earning and living, where would we see such exemplary devotion to music, and labour to keep the long plays alive—an almost extinct art form!