For months, we told them we’d be back. “To tell the blind musician’s story!” We said. For months, they waited.
We badly wanted to return. Ustad Afzalur Rahman and his two visually impaired daughters had in June this year, treated us to an afternoon of amazing music. We couldn’t stop talking about them. The old man played the sarod like an angel. Played it as if it were a part of him. Music had given Ustad hope when he was a blind little boy. It redefined his life, gave him purpose. And when he taught his wife and children how to play, it gave their family a new identity too. They called themselves the Inner Eyes Family Orchestra, and they performed all over the world.
We pitched their story to various TV channels. An international broadcaster said it was interested. The family prepared for our visit, made plans for a concert – the Maestro’s Swansong. His last performance before retiring for good. But the commissioning process took a little longer than expected. The musician scheduled his concert, postponed it, then waited and waited and waited. We wringed our hands, assured them we were doing our best to return. And then on Boxing Day, he decided he could wait no more.
And so another story goes untold.
Ustad is gone now. We are glad that we had the privilege, the wonderful privilege of witnessing him play. He was so very frail when we met, his fingers perhaps not as nimble as before. But the joy with which he performed, and afterwards, the way he bobbed his head to the rhythm of his daughters’ song – it was unforgettable.
Ustad’s daughters now bear the responsibility of carrying on their father’s legacy. Perhaps there’s another story there to tell.