As a lover of books and music, it is no surprise that I would pick up Anubhutir Abhidhan (Addhayan Prokashoni, 2021), a book of musings, stories, and poems written by Tahsan Khan— singer, songwriter, actor, teacher, and also a mentor to many in Bangladesh. He has been writing this book for quite some time now, bringing together his experiences and picking his memories for stories from his past. The book is a quick read, however, and it portrays Tahsan Khan's excellent hold of the Bangla language and his love for literature.
In an era in which we're quicker to read reviews of bestsellers instead of actually reading the books, Anubhutir Abhidhan turns out to be a gratifying read. Besides being short and sweet, each chapter is satisfyingly crisp and insightful. Clearly, the book is an excellent way for fans to catch a glimpse into the mind of Tahsan Khan.
Autobiographies written by famous people are always expected to be "open books" (pun not intended), where the lives of the rich and famous come out crawling with scandalous quips, wise anecdotes, eminent "name drops" and, of course, the very obvious rags-to-riches moments, adding to the climax at the very end. Anubhutir Abhidhan was actually none of that.
Instead, Tahsan sorts through a huge accumulation of experiences that he has gone through over the years while dealing with friends, fans, producers, admirers, and himself as an artist. He writes about old friends, music, communities, school, love, and regrets, and connects them with fear, passion, arrogance, inspiration, humility and so much more. Each of the 20 short chapters describes a certain human emotion.
For instance, Tahsan beautifully defines "Bismoy" (marvel) in a chapter in which he goes back to the young days of his band Black, when he was thinking of ways to scrape money together to buy a keyboard. He writes about how his father became the ultimate hero of the story. A chapter titled "Koutuhol" (curiosity) brings together his thoughts on politics, on how the "different" and the "other" are discriminated against, and how people end up following so-called world leaders who promote hate, instead of using the power of curiosity to think for themselves and ask powerful questions. In "Aupoman" (insult), he expresses his surprise and sorrow at the fickle human mind and how the souls of many around him prefer to be enriched by the shallow instead of the abundant.
To a music fan particularly familiar with the industry in Bangladesh, the book will seem reminiscent of an old-school CD packaged in a diamond case, from the late '90s or the early 2000s. Adorned with an image of the author, the cover art designed by Arafat Karim will take Tahsan fans back to the era of Nei or Kothopokothon—two of his many popular solo albums. Back then, the flaps would often include little notes of dedication, lyrics, artwork and so much more. Similarly, Anubhutir Abhidhan features poems written by the author himself, following up each of the chapters and summarising his thoughts into songs. Each of these poems, then, are followed by illustrations screaming nostalgia, created by Arafat Karim.
In a nutshell, Tahsan Khan manages to showcase himself in Anubhutir Abhidhan, focusing on the positives, opening up about his personal fears, and of course talking about the people he loves.
Elita Karim is Editor, Arts & Entertainment and Star Youth, The Daily Star. Her twitter handle is @elitakarim.
Anubhutir Abhidhan is available at the Addhayan Prokashoni stall at the Ekushey Boi Mela and at online and physical bookstores. Price: BDT 270.