Thousands of people gathered at central Shaheed Minar premises in the capital Dhaka on Friday to pay their last tributes to Ayub Bachchu, the legendary rock singer, composer and guitarist, who died of heart failure the day before at the age of 56.
Standing in a queue, some carried bouquet cut in the shape of a guitar, while some wore T-shirts inscribed with ‘Love U AB’, as they waited for the mortal remains of their beloved singer, admirably called AB, to be taken there for public viewing.
People in queue overflowed on to the footpath near the Shaheed Minar premises and snaked along the main street till the outpatient department at Dhaka Medical College and Hospital.
Almost every man and woman, standing alone or with members of their families, some holding kids in their lap, had one common symbolic gift in hand: A red rose.
‘I have been listening to his songs for so long that I wanted to see him for once,’ said Popy Akter, a 40-year-old mother of two daughters.
Popy was just 15 years old when she first listened to Bachchu’s famous number ‘Ei Rupali Guitar Phele’. The song opens with the singer requesting listeners to hold their tears back on the day he leaves behind his silver guitar for good.
The number was a super-hit immediately after its release and is considered among the most popular band songs in the country’s history. It featured in Sukh album, the second production of LRB, the popular rock band Bachchu founded in 1991.
Bachchu released 28 albums, including 16 solo productions, in his career spanning more than four decades during which he popularized rock music in Bangladesh.
Born in Chattogram in 1962, Bachchu composed 500 songs including famous numbers like ‘Chalo Bodle Jai’, ‘Hanste Dekho, Gaite Dekho’, ‘Ghum Bhanga Shahore’, ‘Darojar O Pashe’, ‘Madhabi’, ‘Hawker’, ‘Meye’, ‘Tara Bhara Rate’ and ‘Sare Tin Hat Mati’. He also sang playbacks for films and recorded dozens of songs released in mixed albums.
Kaokab Hasnain, who is in his mid 30s, remembered the joy he had in putting aside a portion of his daily tiffin allocation to save up enough money to be able to buy Bachchu’s album.
‘Such was the attraction of Bachchu to me and my generation,’ said Kaokab.
Prominent musicians, actors, directors, theater activists, politicians, and journalists joined the general public comprising of his fans across generations at Shaheed Minar to pay their final tributes to the musician.
Members of different political, socio-cultural and voluntary organizations also thronged the Shaheed Minar premises for paying last respect to the maestro.
Singer Rafiqul Alam said that people were immersed in Hindi film songs when Bachchu demanded their attention with his works in the 1980s and he had successfully turned people away from Hindi songs.
Colleagues indisputably hailed Bachchu’s contribution to music, remembering the role of Bachchu during the crucial days when the tide was turning in the industry as the digital format gradually began to displace the manual era recording.
‘It is a big deal to come to be regarded as a legend at the age of 56,’ said celebrated singer Naquib Khan.
‘Bachchu will be remembered for his work for a long time,’ he said.
Bachchu was found unconscious in his Maghbazar residence Thursday morning and was already dead by the time he was rushed to the hospital. Bachchu will be buried at Chattogram on Saturday.
Condolences and tributes continued to pour in over his death at home and from abroad. Singer Kabir Sumon is among the celebrities who sent their condolences following the musician’s death terming his passing away as a great loss to music.
Thespian Nasiruddin Yusuf Bachchu said Bachchu was always a favourite among the youth for his song that celebrated life and love.
‘Bachchu will continue to influence the work of generations to come,’ said Nasiruddin Yusuf.
Around noon, at the end of the long line at Shaheed Minar stood Rustam, a 26-year-old youth, with a red rose in his hand. He said Bachchu inspired him to take music lessons and that he was learning to play keyboard.
‘I loved his song Ammajan so much,’ said Rustam, who came from Malibagh.
In front of him was Zariat, a 12-year-old boy, with a red rose in hand. He loved Bachchu’s famous number ‘Ek Akasher Tara Tui…’
A government car was parked beside them with its door open. The driver said that the younger brother of an influential secretary came to pay his last tribute to Bachchu. The brother was not there, perhaps standing somewhere in the line.
The driver found a way of paying tribute to the legend, by playing on the car stereo Bachchu’s famous number, ‘Shei Tumi Keno Eto Ochena Hole…’
Meanwhile repeated requests came through the loudspeaker urging people to move faster while paying their tributes in front of the coffin since thousands of people were waiting to attend the legend’s Janaza.
After the tribute was paid and the coffin was lifted to be taken to Eidgah for Janaza, those still in the line, running behind time, showered the coffin with the roses they had been holding in hand.
A crowd of over a hundred people gathered around the ambulance, which was to carry the body to the Eidgah, forming a human chain as they walked along the slowly moving car.
Some touched the car every now and then.
From behind came a final announcement from the loudspeaker, ‘We will miss you.’
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