An earnest Tagore artiste and freedom fighter Quazi Habibullah Hafiz, better known as Azad Hafiz, passed away of cancer at 62 on Friday, losing a long-fought battle to cancer. His close friend Fahim Hossain Chowdhury and niece Julie, both reputed singers in their own genres, reminisced on a person they hold close to their hearts:
Fahim Hossain Chowdhury
I met Azad when we studied at Dhaka University, in the early seventies. We spent all our leisure singing and hanging out together, in all parts of the University. I, Azad and another friend of ours - Rashedul Hasan Matin, were an inseparable trio. He sang Shyamol Mitra and Manna Dey songs all too well, and his style of singing Rabindra Sangeet was also a little different from ours. He was also involved with Chhayanaut for a long time. I have lost count of how many programmes we have done together over the years; we would sit at 8-9pm and go on till deep into the night. But he always shied away from publicity. Even after he returned from abroad, we would meet often. A couple of years ago, he wrote on my song-book “We're friends 18 hours a day”. As disheartening as his demise is, I'm happy for all the memories we have together.
Chhoto Chacha (Azad Hafiz) was very close to all of us cousins. He was like a friend. Both my parents also sing, and along with them, chhoto chacha and chachi (eminent singer Dalia Nausheen) would also sing regularly, so we sort of grew up listening to them. He would sing SD Burman songs, gono-sangeet and patriotic songs beautifully as well. At family weddings, he would take the lead in writing and performing various parodies and funny songs. He was such a lovely person; anyone who has gotten to know him would tell you the same. He was a big-hearted person and loved helping people. His voice was one of my favourite, and many of my childhood favourite songs I'd heard first in his voice. To see someone you love suffer so much was difficult for us; I hope he is in a better place now.