On hearing the news of Jagjit Singh’s death, the first thing that instantly came to mind was my father and our ‘Five o’clock Tea’. I enjoyed my father’s insistence to listen to music during that time, only to avoid the relentless interrogation about my grades and the resolute and recurring emphasis on the power of social influence and choosing the “right” friends in school.
Everyday he’d make it a point to introduce me to that one Elvis / Engelbert Humperdinck / Mohammad Rafi song that I absolutely needed to now about.
I’d like to think he was equipping me with tools to send me off into the world. I am eternally grateful now that among the many things in my bag of preparing-for-the-world paraphernalia, he told me that ‘music was to be used as a shield’ because as much as he taught me, in his way, to deal with the world, he also taught me to escape from it occasionally – and sure enough music has been my personal armour since, literally intercepting many, many attacks.
I’d know the Five o’clock Tea was drawing to an end, when he’d pop in a CD from his vast ghazal collection. Jagjit Singh always had the last word, his ghazal playing like an anthem to countrymen reminding them of past sacrifices.
With my father’s passing away, I naturally found solace in Jagjit Singh’s ghazals. While his smooth vocals breathed new life into poetry, his expression gave a soul to my sadness. His ghazals continue to come to the rescue of my memory when it struggles to make a connect to my father – Jagjit Singh never fails to remind me who my father was.
It’s safe to say as a Pakistani from my generation, a lot of us have grown up listening to the brilliance of Jagjit Singh. Almost all of us, at some point either directly or through a family member have been associated with Jagjit Singh, regardless of our preference in music.
With Jagijit Singh’s passing we are indeed drawing that much closer to the tragic end of a majestic era. There is a great sadness in acknowledging that legends, like him who have left a profound effect on our consciences, are no more. However, there is also that distinct delight in knowing that we now have the responsibility to pass on what we were so generously given. The legend truly does live on.
From dancing at family weddings to Dhai Din Na Jawani Naal Chaldi to moping to Main Bhool Jaoon Tumhe over a break-up, I keenly look forward to introducing Jagjit Singh to people who don’t know of him and hope to do a job of it that is befitting to my father.
In these past years, any tribute to my father has been incomplete without Jagjit Singh. And there is something markedly powerful in this likening of Jagjit Singh’s death to that of losing someone close to you. Above all, the bringing together of so many different people of different ages, perspectives and preferences from different parts of the world is a strong testament to Jagjit Singh’s supremacy.
An exquisite sense of kinship leaps out as my twitter feed overflows with warm tributes to the great ghazal singer. Whoever we are and wherever we’re from, if only in grief, transcending boundaries, we all stand united today.
Zeresh John is the Blogs Editor at Dawn.com