The passing of Fakir Alamgir is a prolongation of the long winter that has had music in its grip in Bangladesh. People of my generation grew into adulthood singing Alamgir's songs, a popular one being O Sokhina Gesosh Ki Na Bhuila Amare. There was a revolutionary feel in that song, the voice which found expression in the underprivileged. For many of us, idealistic as we were --- and still are --- the song was grounded in reality. And we loved Fakir Alamgir for the insistent manner in which he sang it. And we cheered him to the rafters when he came forth with his Naam Tar Chhilo John Henry on May Day.
Fakir Alamgir was one of us. There was the earthy in him, that feeling that like many of us middle class people he was deeply rooted in the soil. He let people know, constantly, of what his Wrishija Shilpi Goshthi was doing in pushing the boundaries of people's music, gano shongeet, across the land. Sheer energy defined him. There was always that natural smile lighting up his face. He did not know you, had no reason to know you. And yet his conversation, at that very first meeting with you, convinced you that he was one of those products of Creation born to make people happy.
We who have been part of Fakir Alamgir's generation, in the sense of being inspired by his music, have passed into our sixties through being in marvellous contact with those artistes who, beginning in the 1970s, regaled us with gano shongeet. Azam Khan, one of the icons in the gano shongeet generation, stole our hearts with his riveting Alal O Dulal all those years ago. His O Re Saleka O Re Maleka and Ashi Ashi Bole Tumi Ar Elena are melody we mouth even today, as we prepare to walk away into the twilight. Long years ago, not long after the liberation of the country, we heard Azam Khan belt out Chinta Ram Daroga Babu Jamin Dilo Na before a transfixed crowd of the young in Malibagh Chowdhuripara. It was a beautifully radical evening in beautifully radical times. Azam Khan, like his contemporaries, was giving us a new genre in music.
And who can forget Firoz Shai, that ever smiling artiste in whose songs loudly rang the spiritual? In Ek Second-er Nai Bhorosha was a reminder of the temporal, all too brief nature of life. It is an irony that Firoz Shai died moments after he had sung that song again. We who were mesmerized by his music have never quite been able to erase the pain we felt when news of his passing came to us. To this day, when monsoon clouds cast a pall across the heavens, his piercing number, Mon Tui Dekhli Na Re, creates a riot in the soul. The spirit of the baul inhabited Firoz Shai's being. Ishkool Khuila Se Re Moula Ishkool Khuila Se underlay that spirit in him.
All three of them --- Fakir Alamgir, Azam Khan and Firoz Shai --- have gone the way of all flesh. Our world of melody is a whole lot poorer without them, as it is poorer without the siblings Lucky Akhand and Happy Akhand. In what was a New Wave they inaugurated in music, they gave us the coruscating Abar Elo Je Shondhya. Lucky Akhand's Ai Neel Monihar and Amaye Dekona go on giving a lilt to our souls. He and his brother brought in music which left us spellbound with the soft yet passionate romance it embodied. And, of course, there has been Ferdous Wahid, whose songs in the 1980s were a musical regeneration for us. Think back on Mamuniya and Polatok Shomoyer Haath Dhore.
The inimitable Jan-e-Alam gave us the unforgettable, tinged with the religious Ekti Gondomer Lagiya Allah-e Banailo Duniya. The musical group Souls gifted us Tore Putuler Moto Kore Shajiye Hridoyer Kothore Rakhbo.
With Fakir Alamgir goes a generation, in its entirety, into remembered history. It was a generation which inspired us through the years, kept the season of perennial spring alive in us even as we stepped into our autumn, waiting peacefully for winter beyond that final sunset.
And we hum Kameli Ra Kam Koriya Kothae Zani Lukaise Dui Paharher Majhe Moulae Mosjid Banaise, that steeped-in-the-soul poetry rumbling forth from deep inside our consciousness of life --- and beyond life. ***