THE TAGORE SONGBIRD
I had known Mita for a very long time. I first met her at my guru Wahidul Haque's house. I remember that one day this lively girl came to Guru Ji's house and did a few songs, and then got up and left. That was Mita, and just how she suddenly went to the Guru's house that day, in that sudden manner she departed from life. Since then, we were both in Anandadhwani, and later on, Lisa was also in it. But I think that was the time when I grew very close to Mita. When we started working for Rabindra Sangeet Sammelan Parishad, we got to see Mita in her element much more. Mita did not want to just sing, she also wanted to instill song in others as well. She could also get close to people very quickly. Whenever we went out of Dhaka for work, she would always start talking to the local boys and girls and just get close to them. I always found it amazing how easily she could make friends. Through that closeness, she taught many people about music and our culture. Nowadays, we do not see too many artists be involved in social and political awareness. I think that we had much more politically aware artists back then. I feel artists need to have a sense of political and social awareness to create good art. And in Mita's case, she was not only aware of these, but she was also very vocal about it. Sometime before she passed, Mita even called me to talk about how the extremist mentality has risen in the people here and how she was very fearful of where all these would lead us to. For me, it hurt a lot to hear that Mita had died. It broke my heart upon the news, and I only think that the sorrow of her loss will continue to affect us in the days to come.
UVA NAHID CHOWDHURY
It hurt a lot when I first heard that Mita had passed away. We knew she was sick, but we never thought that we would lose her. I, along with Bulbul bhai are the same age as her. For me, it felt like I lost someone very dear to me. For me, I always found it amazing how Mita always remained so down to earth. She was such a prominent singer, but she would never show it. She always remained humble. The students of Wahidul kaka were given the virtue to learn songs themselves and also teach them to other people. Wahidul kaka liked Mita because she always reflected teaching in her life. She always taught songs to others. Even if she had a lot going on, she would find the time to teach songs. Whenever I went to her house, I would see that even if there are many household chores, or that someone in the house is sick, Mita would still not stop teaching music at her home. She considered it her responsibility to pass on the teachings. I don't know how many more artists we can find who has a sense of duty as she did. I think Wahidul kaka once said something along the lines of whether Mita loves music more than her family, or does she love her family more through music? Mita saw the whole world through music, and I don't think we will find another artist like her. The way she helped bring other artists up, I don't think anyone else can be able to do that. Mita once said that music is like the foundation of her life. I do not think that we will be able to find someone of her caliber, not just as an artist but also as a person.
AISA AHMED LISA
I first saw Mita Apa when I participated in a singing competition at Rabindra Sangeet Sammelan Parishad. She was just a young woman at that time, and I remember her wearing a pink salwar kameez. I won the title in the junior division round and when she found out, she told me that when she was my age, she had won something big. I later found out that she went abroad as a national artist when she was a child through Khelaghor. I hadn't even known her name back then, but gradually, I listened to her songs on the radio and later on the television as we didn't have a television until quite late. I would be mesmerised listening to her music after the morning news. My parents were huge fans of her music; we used to wait in anticipation to listen to her songs every morning. Even though she wasn't a part of my family, I felt a deep connection with her. She loved people unconditionally and would do anything to help and support them. She had several tragedies in her life, like losing her husband and father in a very short interval. Still, she was impossibly strong and never let anything or anyone take her spark away. When she had to go through a difficult phase in her life, our bond further deepened. No matter what happened, Mita Apa and even Joyita were by my side, always keeping in touch and looking after me. I received so much love from her that I can't put into words. I can't believe that she is no more, but I know that she is in a better place and that we will keep her memory alive forever through her music.
I got to know Mita Apa through Rabindra Sangeet Sammelan Parishad and that is how we kept in contact and our relationship deepened to where it is today. I first saw her when I participated in a singing competition at Sammelan Parishad as a university student. I sang a very ordinary song, but the way she praised me and embraced the song, I couldn't help but feel good about my song choice. She made me feel at ease and became close to me like many others. She even made Joyita listen to the song that I had sung before giving her feedback. I asked her many times to sing it in front of me, but she always denied it, saying that it's my song because she heard it from me the first time. As many would agree, she always brought people close to her. When I started out as a teacher after graduating, she asked me to collaborate with her. Our bond deepened further when she joined Chhayanaut as a teacher as I too was associated with it. She saw Sammelan Parishad as a way to unite musical talents and voices. I can't praise her musical talent enough because she truly was a legend and inspired me from a very young age. I used to listen to her music on the television and learn how to sing with proper pronunciation and melody. I have been able to spend a lot of time with her in and outside of Sammelan Parishad and learned how caring and attentive she is to others. She integrated the ethics of Sammelan Parishad in her daily life which is quite rare and difficult because we all have some beliefs that we can't always practise. I'm truly saddened by her passing and I will always remember her.
Mine and Mita's friendship started when we were only ten years old. We were both Wahid bhai's students when we began to learn singing. Later, I decided to focus on acting and she chose music. However, our friendship remained as strong as ever; our energetic personalities complemented one another. In her last moments, I did not get to see her. But I always want to remember the Mita who was my friend and my singing companion. She performed Rabindra sangeet in a way most people cannot. She didn't only sing. Rather, she understood and spoke the lyrics. The tune as though was just an addition. Everyone mentioned how she was a great artist, but I also want to remember how great of a person she was. She treated everyone with love and kindness. She also loved cooking and eating and sharing with people. Sometimes she would invite me over only to share a dish she had enjoyed making. I traveled with her to Kolkata and Singapore. I accompanied her when she traveled abroad to treat her kidney problem. Mita was a dear friend to me. She also loved meeting friends and spending her time talking to them. Besides that, she took care of Rajon, her younger brother, the same way she brought up her daughter Joyita. They were her whole life. I find it to be my duty now to take care of Joyita and Shahin, and to take care of Rajon. Mita had a very big heart. She hoped to see a progressive Bangladesh. It pains me to know that she passed away without witnessing it. I still cannot comprehend her death. However, Mita will always be ours. She will live through us.
I am still trying to come to terms with this new reality. For the past few days, I have tried to stay strong. I asked Shahin to remove my mother's belongings that were in my room so that I don't have to interact with them when I'm navigating through the day. For now, I am taking care of Rajon and focusing on myself to stay the best I can. Hearing everyone talk about her today has made me emotional, as I haven't had the time myself to feel and reflect. My mother's health had deteriorated quite a few times before, which is perhaps why I was not prepared for her death. Before my father's death, I used to believe that the human body is like a machine, and when someone passes away, it's similar to a machine that stops working. However, I now like to believe that death is not an absolute end, and I think it is important to have that hope. We held a prayer for my mother a few days back, and during that time I tried to imagine her going someplace else that would make me happy. I imagine her to be with my father and my grandparents and that they are happy, wherever they are. It's a place that we all have to travel to someday, which is something we are preparing for alongside them. Imagining this makes dealing with death easier for those of us still alive.