Tearful goodbye to Feroza Begum
It was a day to mourn and people mourned. But some losses are too great that you cannot mourn enough, and the passing of Feroza Begum is one such loss.
As the pallbearers carried her coffin for burial, one of her most touching Nazrul Sangeet tracks played, rather so fittingly -- Ami chiro tore dure chole jabo, tabu amare debona bhulite (I'll go far away for ever, yet I won't have you forget me).
Hundreds of mourners walked behind the coffin in silence, tears rolling down their cheeks, as they paid their last tribute to the legendary Nazrul singer at the Central Shaheed Minar yesterday.
The eminent singer passed away around 8:30pm on Tuesday. She was 84.
Born on July 28, 1930, in Faridpur, she began singing at the age of 12. In the seven decades that followed, she sang in a voice that many say a nightingale has. She received the Independence Day Award in 1979 for her contribution to music.
“As long as the nation and music survive, Feroza Begum will live on,” said Nasiruddin Yusuf Bachchu, president of Sammilita Sangskritik Jote.
The sincerity with which people mourned said it all about a devoted artiste on her final journey, after a life replete with work and struggle to uphold the essence and spirit of Nazrul Islam, the national poet.
She was laid to rest beside her husband at Banani graveyard in the capital around 6:00pm.
In a statement, Indian High Commissioner in Dhaka Pankaj Saran expressed his deepest condolences.
Feroza Begum was a great exponent of Nazrul Geeti and ruled the hearts of music lovers not only in Bangladesh but also India for almost seven decades, he said, adding that the cultural world of the sub-continent has lost one of its greatest icons.
BNP chief Khaleda Zia last night visited the bereaved family members and expressed her condolences. Later, BNP leader Osman Faruk told reporters that it was unacceptable that the government did not give her state honours before her burial.
Earlier in the day, hundreds of her fans and well-wishers thronged the Shaheed Minar after her body was taken there around 1:30pm from her Indira Road residence.
People from all walks of life, irrespective of their political identities, leaders and activists from different socio-cultural and political organisations paid their rich tribute to the maestro there.
Cultural affairs Minister Asaduzzaman Noor paid tribute on behalf of the government.
He said the Shilpakala Academy, Bangla Academy, Nazrul Institute and National Museum would work together to preserve her songs and works for the future generation.
Laila Akhter, a housewife from the city's Jigatola, came with her two children and one sister.
“Our entire family loves her songs. Even the day before yesterday, I was listening to her songs.... Yesterday I got the news on television. I came here to pay my respects,” said Laila.
Not only for Laila's family, Feroza Begum was an endless source of inspiration for thousands of others, particularly the singers.
Noted singer Shabnam Mushtari said singers like her were encouraged by Feroza Begum.
“Though she is no more, she will remain in our hearts,” said an emotion-choked Mushtari.
Khilkhil Kazi, granddaughter of national poet Nazrul Islam, also paid her tribute to Feroza Begum, who struggled hard to promote Nazrul songs across the globe.
“I have lost my soul. I am feeling the pain that I had endured after losing my grandfather,” she wrote on the condolence book.
”She [Feroza Begum] defeated those who tried to stop Nazrul's voice.... She is the winner, she is infallible,” Prof Mansur Musa, former director general of Bangla Academy, wrote in the book.
Eminent artist Mustafa Manowar said, “Singers like her come but once in a life time.... It's a great loss.”
Feroza's son Hamin Ahmed said, “Her death marks the end of an era.”
Shafin Ahmed, another of her sons, said, “She devoted her life to promoting Nazrul's songs worldwide.”
Besides Hamin and Shafin, Feroza's three brothers and other family members and relatives were present at the Shaheed Minar. One of her sons, Tahsin Ahmed, is outside the country.
Prof Anisuzzaman, Nazrul researcher Prof Rafiqul Islam, jurist Rafique-Ul Huq, cabinet members AMA Muhith, Hasanul Haq Inu and Rashed Khan Menon, painter Hashem Khan, singers Khalid Hossain, Abdul Jabbar, Sadya Afreen Mallick, Sujit Mostafa, Khairul Anam Shakil and Ayub Bachchu, BNP leader Abdul Moeen Khan, Awami League leader Mahbubul Alam Hanif, among others, paid their tributes.
From the Shaheed Minar, her body was taken to Gulshan Azad Mosque for her namaz-e-janaza after a minute's silence in respect to her memory.
As the mourners departed in tears, another of her tracks played at the Shaheed Minar: Aamay nohe go bhalobasho shudhu, bhalobasho mor gaan (love not me, love only, only my songs).