This is the month my phupu died. She was such a strong willed and tough person, who has overcome impossible situations and recovered from serious medical conditions, many a times. Somehow, there was this internal belief of mine that she can fight it out and she will be all right again.
Whenever phupu would go to the hospital, I would say to her, “No problem. You will be fine In Sha Allah!” On the evening of September 9th, 2014, everything has changed. It felt like the world has turned upside down. She left us and millions of fans around the world, forever. I was in disbelief about her death for some time. I was the last one to visit her in the ICU at the hospital, when she had said to me, “Tui Bhalo Thakish!” (You stay well!) – her voice still echoes in my heart and soul. I can still hear her whispering to me with those words. I can’t belief that a year has passed since her demise and it has passed so soon. Time flies.
Reflecting back in time, I could not function for a while. In fact, everything came to a screeching halt at 8:30 pm on Sept 9, 2014. It was very difficult to pick up the ‘khatas’ with all those hours of interaction with her, embedded in each of the pages. After her death, I did not know where to begin. I had performed in a few places throughout last year. After every performance, I always used to go directly to her for her valuable feedback. Now, I try to visit her grave before my performances. I know she can’t pray for me now but maybe she can feel my presence. I remain silent in pain, whenever I visit her grave. I know, she had told me, how empty she had felt, when my phupa died in 1974.
Kamal Das Gupta, the legendary music composer of the Indian sub-continent was her Guru and guide. After his death, she had to continue with her music career alone for the rest of her life. I am feeling in the same way now. This is the reason why I have dedicated my latest album ‘??????? ??????? ?????’ - ‘Sound of Seasons’ in her memory, which was launched on Aug 13, 2015.
The album launch was a huge project that I had to do alone. In spite of all of my efforts, I still feel empty inside, feel that it is not enough. She was of such caliber that even if I spend the rest of my life singing, following her footsteps, taking forward her legacy, I could not give her back what she has given me – all the warmth, all the love and care that she has given me and that are intertwined with my music.
She was so close to my heart and I had such a deep understanding with her that on every small gesture or smile at the corner of her lips, as she listened to my songs, I knew why she was smiling. I knew exactly, why she would pause or indicate something through her facial expressions or hand gestures in response to my performances. There were many moments when I felt that she and I have become one intangible and inseparable whole in the universe. Those moments flicker in my mind, especially when I sing. I feel as if she is awakened by the expressions that I have learned from her.
She always wanted me to go forward and come into the mainstream of music. I also feel this is a natural progression for me. I want to make her happy, wherever she is. I want to feel that she lives through music forever. Her soul, her spirit and her passion for music should live on forever. So I feel it is my responsibility to bring her passion for Nazrul forward to the people around the world. Nazrul songs should reach to all, to the people all over the world, “touching souls”.
On Sept. 9th on her first death anniversary, I am opening an archive on her, linked to my website: www.shusmitaanis.com, so that all her fans around the world can share their collections of her old and rare songs or her experiences with music. I have studied and lived in USA for a long time. So I know for a fact that many people have collected her songs over the years. So there must be a place to gather all her songs. I am sure very soon people will get engaged in collecting her LPs, videos, audios in all forms. I simply wanted to begin the process of archiving in my own small way.
I would be giving tribute to Feroza Begum on Sept. 9th by releasing three unique songs those have been tuned by Feroza Begum. Even though she always kept reserved and never let anyone know about this talent of hers, I thought, this is my responsibility to present her audience the beautiful songs that she has tuned. So I sang the songs with the recordings of my aunt talking about the songs. These songs are very close to my heart. I would invite the listeners to download the songs from my website: www.shusmitaanis.com. Hope you will enjoy her tune as much as I do and appreciate the other side of Feroza Begum.