Syed Badrul Ahsan
On that evening in Armanitola, it was a humble Lucky Akhand who filled the room with his quiet presence. For me, having come across a whole tribe of prominent people not unwilling to demonstrate their prominence, indeed their celebrity status, before the common, huddled masses, Akhand’s demeanour was a fresh breeze in what for me was the advent of a new spring. There he was, in truly self-effacing mode, absolutely reluctant to project himself as the consequential artiste he truly was. When I spoke of Mahmudunnabi and some of his more coruscating numbers, Akhand asked me to sing a little. I did that, without any trepidation, for it was obvious that Akhand was content to be part of the company rather than be the star of the show. He did not make people feel nervous in his presence.
There were quite a few other occasions when I ran into Lucky Akhand after that first encounter. And what impressed me was the way he remembered our first meeting. Many are the celebrities whom I have had occasion to meet more than once and yet they have pretended that every time they met me was their first time. With Lucky Akhand, it was the soul that mattered. He had a heart big enough to recall the faces he had once seen, the people he had once met. Every time we met, we said hello. We smiled and then went our separate ways. I had no way of knowing that an ailment was eating him up from within, that he had not many years to live. That, again, is human nature, tragically so. You expect life to go on; you expect people you know to go on. Lucky Akhand and I shared a generation, born in the 1950s, which was why I did not believe his end was around the bend of the river or mine was drawing closer.
I am still around, for no one knows how much longer. The bigger reality for us, for our world of music today, is that the melody which once stirred youthful romance in us, because the music came from Lucky Akhand, has now been stilled. The nightingale, for that was what Akhand was, will not sing again. And yet, in his final days, even as he knew twilight was steadily casting its expanding shadow on him, Akhand knew his music need not pay heed to the laws of mortality. Music was wider than life, for music transcended life. His heart throbbed in music. His soul refused to move away from song. His fingers strummed the guitar. Music was his world, his lifeline, and he was unwilling to part with it. One can be quite certain that when the life went out of Lucky Akhand on Friday evening, in the silence of Baishakh, it passed into the Great Beyond to the accompaniment of the post-modern music that he had created, that has always been his legacy to our world.
And what defining music it was! Ei Neel Monihar Ei Shornali Din-e was an initiation into new romance, into a reinvention of love, that Lucky Akhand threw across the room at us. We were young, as he was young, when the song took our world by storm. We grew into middle age, as he did, and yet that song kept pumping poetry into our sensibilities. Akhand was a poet in his creation of song. In his melody came pain and pathos, the loneliness of the modern young soul. Close your eyes and travel back to Amaye Deko Na Pherano Jaabe Na / Ferari Pakhira Kulaye Phere Na. That yearning for exile, that wish to walk away from love, from all the fire and smoke and ashes it entailed, was a theme Lucky Akhand offered us through his insistent explorations in the universe of modern Bengali music.
Love, in Lucky Akhand’s world — a world we could not but share with all those sensitivities punching holes in it — was ephemeral. It made its swift passage into the heart and then, just as swiftly, made its way out of it. The anguish of separation, the heartache engendered by a meltdown of romance made itself heard in Aage Jodi Jantam Tobe Mon Phire Chaitam / Ei Jala Ar Praane Shoy Na.
But the soul remains a traveller, even as gloom descends and threatens to take the artiste in its malevolent grip. Cholo Na Ghuure Aashi Ojanate / Jekhane Nodi Eshe Theme Gechhe speaks of the worlds, beyond worlds, even as the day recedes by the riotous sea. Abar Elo Je Shondhya…twilight comes once more.
The twilight has carried Lucky Akhand away. And yet he lives, yet we hold on to him. His songs go on being heard — along our pristine rivers, in the rustle of leaves in our timeless bucolic landscape, deep in the lighted passages of our collective inner being.