How are we to mourn the loss of our beloved guitarist-turn-singer and composer — one whose agile figures first lent an almost supernatural power to many a memorable tune in his early days and later to his own songs since he launched his solo career in 1986. A year after his group that stole the hearts of the millions, namely LRB, became a carrier for his angst-ridden, soul-emptying songs, which would continue years on end, propelling him to national fame.
The idol that Ayub Bachchu has finally become, resided in the core of our hearts for what feels like forever. In the post-Azam Khan era of pop-rock, he became the dreamweaver. He freighted his songs at times loaded with sorrow and often colored with undefined shades of emotion linked with a sense of forlornness. In the rapidly changing urban milieu, where alienated youth found little outlet for their emotions, his songs resonated with myriad lonely souls looking for an oasis amid the ever-growing urban jungle.
His songs often came awash with a down-to-earth candidness, which made his lyrics ‘croonable’. They often caught us in their untamed rhythm and beat finally settling into our memories forever. At times, we seemed to have swum into the ebb and flow of the emotions he could weave into his songs. But, how often do we truly mourn our heroes, paying the respect that they deserve?
Growing up in the 90s, the beginning of rapid urbanization, I too was one of the fans who chose to get carried away by his music. There are many who looked for a fresh breath of air in the desert of the real that Dhaka was slowly turning into.
Perhaps, this is why the sudden death of Ayub Bachchu has brought together the whole nation, regardless of generations. And isn’t that where the art of music resides — in a timeless zone? The singer and the listener may age, but the emotions behind the song will never be old, or be passé.
My first encounter with Ayub Bachchu was with “Meye, tumi ki dukkho cheno, chenona”. I immediately connected with the song. His voice felt like an embodiment of the melancholic emotions that I had inside me.
Perhaps that is what love at first sight feels like! I dwelt on it later, remembering the nostalgic tug of guitar strings at heart. And that was my introduction to the maestro of rock music, Ayub Bachchu, or AB to those of us who held him dear to our hearts.
AB was the harbinger of rock music into our lives. He gave Bangla rock the unbound spirit it needed after things have mellowed doen in the 1980s. He took the lead, and did so superbly that many compared him as the Joe Satriani, the world-famous guitarist.
How often have we sung aloud his “Hanste dekho, gaite dekho” or “Cholo bodle Jai” in an adda or while playing gaanerkoli? And those of us who were lucky to attend his concert must know how the magic of his music used to fill the air. The artist and his admirers became one with the beats and the complex gutter cords that went into each of his tunes — the impact of which rendered the player-singer and listener ‘one’.
Now, will we separate — now that the beats fall short, and the gutter is silent? Or, do we turn up the beat so high that it reaches him no matter where he is?
Let’s backtrack to the question I posed at the beginning. How do we mourn this legend suddenly parting without completing his life’s tasks? I am sure he had a lot more to offer as he was in the process of turning into a more mature singer and musician.
We will mourn through our remembrance of him and his work. We will not forget his contributions to our culture. Neither are his relentless efforts would go in vain, at least not for now. Especially the love and affection that were heaped on him at his funeral where thousands gathered to say the last adieu to this music legend.
He taught us to be true to ourselves. We should not let a day go by without ever coming to terms with what he believed in — unity and human suffrage, defined from a spiritualist’s perspective. We may end up asking “Kemon kore eto ochena hole tumi?” He is no more; but we will remember him through his music and his deeds. With this promise, I would say goodbye — long live Ayub Bachchu!