The music died,
The conversation stopped,
Amid lives trampled,
A heritage crumbled,
All was lost,
All was lost.
I don’t have anything profound to say because there is nothing more profound, more jarring than loss.
Kuch kehne ko alfaaz nahi, jab na insaan na koi awaz rahi.
Seeing the news, my 15 year-old brother asked me yesterday who was Amjad Sabri?
Who was Amjad Sabri?
“And when he died, I suddenly realized I wasn’t crying for him at all, but for the things he did. I cried because he would never do them again, he would never carve another piece of wood or help us raise doves and pigeons in the backyard or play the violin the way he did, or tell us jokes the way he did. He was part of us and when he died, all the actions stopped dead and there was no one to do them the way he did. He was individual. He was an important man. I’ve never gotten over his death. Often I think what wonderful carvings never came to birth because he died. How many jokes are missing from the world, and how many homing pigeons untouched by his hands? He shaped the world. He did things to the world. The world was bankrupted of ten million fine actions the night he passed on.”
So wrote Ray Bradbury in Fahrenheit 451.
Since I’ve read it, it has made me think of my friend Bassem Sabry.
It has made me think of Sabeen.
It has made me think of those no longer among us. And of the many taken from us.
And yesterday, it made me think of Amjad Sabri.
It struck me.
Knowing never again would we hear the majesty of his voice, the magic, the tradition, the feeling, the beauty. Knowing the many souls who won’t know him after this, whose souls will be starved from the stirring that he alone evoked; their hearts hollow from being unmoved. Knowing he would never again sing. Knowing the many messages of love, peace and harmony he will never again recite. Knowing all the melodies, rhymes, rhythms and messages that his voice will never turn touch, they will never come to be for he is no longer there.
From Sabeen Mahmud to Amjad Sabri, to all in between and before, this is true.
Kaise bharain gay yeh zakhm, kaise bharay gi yeh khalah?
Kaun wapas la sakay ga baap ki shafqat un bachon kay saro’on par?
We are poorer today than we were yesterday.
This is a poverty of permanence. No amount of riches, no amount of wealth can even paper over this poverty; a poverty of culture, of art, of tradition, of heritage, a poverty of humanity.
And this hit me sharp when my own brother asked me.
Who was Amjad Sabri?
He will never really know.
Every political item yesterday in the news bulletin infuriated me. All these “leaders” & “governments”, the whole circus, making a joke out of Pakistan as we keep losing our best. The creators, healers, musicians, artists. Our assets, our traditions, our institutions.
Shadeed muzamat. Afsos ka izhar. Tehkikaat ka hukm jari.
Yeh roz ki rasmayein.
Their apathy, their indifference, their incompetence – Pakistan pays for those every single day. In blood. They keep engaging in their political manoeuvres and gimmicks while Pakistan continually bleeds in a pool of its own blood.
But it’s not just them, it is us.
My mother remarked in wake of the attack, kay mulk kay aise halaat kay dauran kuch bolna hi nahi chahiye. I disagreed, akhir Amjad Sabri ka kia qasoor tha? What was it that he spoke to have had his life cut short? Iss mulk kay halaat satar saal se aise hi hain, kitni daer tak bayawaz bethay gay ham? Zinda hain kay murda hai ham?
Kyun koi nikalta nahi? Kyun koi manta nahi kay iss zulm ka aik chehra aur soch hai? Kyun bhool jatay hain ham?
As a friend, Sajjad Hussain, wrote:
When you’re politically correct and resort to meaningless euphemisms, you call the confused, callous, compromised and complicit majority a ‘silent majority’.
You, yes you, are complicit.
Amjad Sabri kee zindagi kay baab kay sath Qawwali ka aik sunhera baab hamesha kay liye band hogaya. Iss mulk main kitne aur baab band hon’gay? Umeed aur insaaniat kay baab tau kab kay band ho chukay. Kab hoga iss zulm ka baab khatam?
Alfaaz nahi iss sanehay se mutaliq. Jis mulk main kuch reh hi na jaye zulm kay ilawa, kuch kehne ko baqi kia reh jata hai.
No other voice today can describe the irreparable void we’ve been left with, except his own.
Rest in peace, Amjad Sabri.
“Āj bhi mere Rabb tere ghar main
Gūnjtī hai azān-e-Bilālī
Bhar do jholi meri ya Ilāhi
Laut kar mai na jāunga khālī…”
P.S: Please have some sense of respect and decency in this moment of grief. There is nothing in sharing or viewing graphic images, except perhaps the gratification of some twisted and sick voyeurism. Think of a loved one in such a position.
None of us ever wants to be seen in any state or condition we consider unfavorable or bad, let us not do that to a man who can no longer control it and whose last moments were marked by violence. Kissi kay dardnaak lamhe aur halat ko tamashai ban kar dekhna aik beyhuuda, bayhiss aur bayreham amal hai.
This was a man who gave us much joy and brought us much pride. Show him respect, let him be remembered in all his might and glory, and please remember him as that.