She came to BTV when she was six years' old, a bright brilliant star and remained so all her life until God announced her exit as a star to another world on 29th September 2016.
In DIT Bhavan of the erstwhile television centre, there were three of us Salma Sultana, Shimul Billah (Yusuf) and myself who participated in every programme that was humanly possible. We sang, solo, chorus, we acted in dramas, and we danced as little fairies. Salma had a very good singing voice and knack for songs. On one occasion she sang in rag Behag 'Dhulu Dhulu Chokhe Ghum Ashey Rati Nijhum'. The songs were written by Kazi Abu Zafar and tuned by maestro Omar Faruk. It was the sweetest and most sonorous song that I remember of my friend Salma Sultana.
During those times, she lent her voice for movies and one of her famous and superhit song was in a child's voice 'Love in Simla' featuring Kabori and Alamgir. The little boy singing to his long lost father brought tears to our eyes. The rendering was so passionate and appropriate, 'Ogo Tumi Je Amar Koto Priyo' and the song was on everyone's lips and is remembered even today, some forty years' later.
Salma sang for BTV, Radio and other avenues and very soon made a name for herself. In a joint program in one of the private channels, I found all the requests coming for her song 'Jhoro Jhoro' which she rendered with utmost finesse.
A kind hearted person, full of love and energy came running to me on Pohela Baisakh at the Ramna Green (I think around 1976). I met her amidst a huge crowd, she looked so beautiful with white sari and red border and red dot and joyously announced to me the arrival of her child. Soon, I went to see the newborn Alif Alauddin in Salma's home near BTV, where she had her marital home with Alauddin Ali.
Alif has been her pride and joy and she doted on this girl. Salma had this rare disease and she had to have kidney transplantation. Her sister Rehana and Abida Sultana, Chitra all went with her to Chennai. I got first-hand accounts of her bravery through these long periods of illness. She fought through all vagaries. Always impeccably dressed, always smiling, always trying to cope.
Alif Alauddin, barely in her fourth year at NSU, took the leading oar. She propelled herself and her mother through the dangerous turbulent rides of life. Studying, anchoring, earning, spending and looking after her mother. It was difficult to see Salma Sultana struggling with her transplanted kidneys, her sister Rebeka Sultana often confided, but Salma remained ever smiling until the end. She tried to participate in every program. She basked in the glory of her daughter and granddaughter- having ice cream, watching movies, always full of fun!
Last year, during the classical festival by Bengal (November 2015), she asked me for a VIP card, and added, 'Maybe next year, I shall not be there'. I ignored the remark, knowing full well it could be true and did not wish to admit. She added last time when I visited her in her home, 'Evu, life has somehow come to an end'.
But I will not accept that, I will gaze into far and yonder and one late night, when all have slept, a star will be located and that will be Salma, ever shining, in the sky!
The writer is an academic, Nazrul exponent and writer.