Amir Hamza playing his flute at a market in Jhenidah. PHOTO: STAR
A veteran pied piper who happens to also be a vagabond plays his bamboo flute in different markets of the district and far districts for earning some money for his family. His main objective is to go abroad in any cultural occasion.
This reputed piper not only plays his flute but also sells them. He can play different kinds of flutes in different tunes and spellbinds the audience with his melody. When he was younger, he could not continue his study due to extreme poverty. He hopes that his son will not meet the same fate and that he will be able to provide for his son's education with his hard earned money. His son studies in class five at present.
This ultra-poor pied piper is Amir Hamza, 42, son of late Mobarak Biswas of Bhagaban Nagar under sadar upazila. He studied up to class five from Bhagaban Nagar govt. primary school. His father was a very poor man. He had no land of his own and now lives on five decimals of land. While talking to the pied piper Amir Hamza at Kaliganj upazila town in Jhenidah district, I learnt that he can make pipe but he has no equipment to do so properly. He sells three kinds of pipes, such as the mini size, the smoking size and the big size. He buys the mini size pipes at Tk 10 and sells them at Tk 20/25, smoking size at Tk 15 and sells them at Tk 30/35, while the big one costs him around Tk 400/500 and he is able to sell the big one at Tk 1000. He gets profit Tk 200/250 per day. It is quite impossible to maintain his family with this poor income.
When he was 16, he came into contact with a veteran pied piper Abdur Rashid of Mokimpur village. Amir took training under Abdur Rashid until 2011, where Abdur Rashid passed away. Later, he took training under Alamgir Hossain Majmadar of Jhenidah district town. Amir collects flutes from Siraj Hossain of Comilla district and Komol Sarkar under Shailkupa upazila in Jhenidah.
Amir informed that a few years back, he played on his pipe in different Jatra and Pala Gaan stages in rural areas of Bangladesh. He even played at Chitra gallery at Dhanmondi in Dhaka from where he was rewarded a crest and a certificate.
At current times, he plays his flute in local markets and earns what his makeshift audience gives him. He usually earns a good amount from January to March if the weather remains favourable. “My gloomy tone can make any one weep, and my joyous tone can make anyone feel pleasant,” says Amir.
Amir added that he has the ability and know how to make pipes himself, instead of buying it from someone else - but he cannot do so because he does not have the equipment required. He needs Tk 30 thousand for setting up a small flute making machine. He requests any lover of music and arts to come to his aid, stretch their helping hands so that he can set up the equipment needed to produce flutes. As a result, he will be able to earn a lot more money, and provide for his son's education properly. He will be able to sell his flutes to different markets of the country. And who knows? In time, he might even be able to save up enough money to fulfill his last desire - to go abroad and participate in a cultural event so that his melody is heard beyond Bangladesh. He can play Raga Imon, Bagisree, Bhairabi, Shibragini, Tori, Gouri, Deshraag and some other classical tunes from Juron Thakur.
Baul devotee and Palagaan artist Khorshed Alom informed that the pipe-playing skills of Amir Hamja is worthy of praise. His flutes are also of very good quality, and he always has a good selection to choose from.