It was a tribute paid to the man of music by his friends in music. What could be more befitting to remember the legendary singer Ayub Bachchu!

The evening air resonated with the sound of instruments at the National Music and Dance Auditorium in Dhaka on Sunday. Prominent singers of the country performed in the programme, ‘Farewell Tribute to Ayub Bachchu’ that was organised by Bangladesh Musical Bands Association (BAMBA).

Ayub Bachchu was not there, but his silent presence could be felt through the pictures at the venue. The programme started with one of his recorded songs, “Hashte Dekho Gaite Dekho, Anek Kathay Mukhor Amay Dekho” (You see me smiling, singing and talking cheerfully)

At the very beginning, singer Maqsood made the point clear to the audience it was not a condolence meeting, “We want to celebrate Ayub Bachchu’s life—such a lively soul he was!”

The man who earned so much applause all his life earned the same again yesterday throughout the programme.

“He was an ever cheerful artist and as a person he was great. He had the special quality to get close to everyone easily,” said Asaduzzaman Noor, the cultural affairs minister.

The present chairman of BAMBA, Hamin Ahmed, reminisced about a 1987 BAMBA concert. The concert was almost ruined due to technical problems in the middle of the show. Bachchu, at that time a member of the band Souls, saved the occasion by singing and playing all alone.

Singer Rafiqul Alam sang few lines from ‘Swadhinata Tumi Noy Maash Por Khola Akash’ (Independence, you are an open sky after nine months), the music arrangements of which was done by Ayub Bachchu.

Fuad Naser, music composer and key-boardist at the band Feeback, said Bachchu was a friendly person.

“I’ve learnt a lot of things from him including how to care for my mother more,” said Bappa Mazumder.

The members of BAMBA sang 15 songs of Ayub Bachchu including ‘Ekhon Onek Raat’, ‘Rater Tarar Moto’, ‘Chand Mama’, ‘Pherari Mon’, ‘Gatakal Rate’, ‘Keu Sukhi Noy’, ‘Moyna’, ‘Rupali Guitar’, ‘Hashte Dekho’, ‘Bangladesh’ and more. At the end, everyone joined in the chorus, ‘Cholo Bodle Jai’ (Let’s Change).

Ayub Bachchu wanted all the bands to sing together on one platform and that was fulfilled on this occasion. The singers sang individually rather than representing their respective bands.

Shafin Ahmed said, “Ayub Bachchu has shown it was possible to unite the music industry.”

Death is not the end for everyone. Ayub Bachchu could not defeat death, but his works and songs paved his way to immortality. The honour and respect paid by the singers yesterday proved that again.

*This piece, originally published in Prothom Alo print edition, has been rewritten in English by Nusrat Nowrin.