A tribute to remember

Published: August 11, 2016

She was sitting outside when the sound first reached her ears. Her gnarly hands gripped the chair firmly. Staggering, she got up and walked towards the sound. The melody grew louder, different voices rising and falling. Melancholy gripped her. As a few minutes passed, the song reached its peak moments. And then the sound died abruptly.

Puzzled, she hurried into the room. Her husband stood in the middle of the room, gripping the remote firmly. He glared at the television set with contempt. But Naghmana Bibi was not discouraged by his anger. She saw what others could not see. They saw his proud head, erect with anger but she could see his slouched shoulders. Others saw his glare, but she could see his wistful eyes. She smiled, knowingly. Startled to see her there, her husband quickly threw away the remote. Hurrying towards her, he clarified,

“The song… I didn’t mean for you to hear it. It came on unexpectedly. I shut it off as soon as I…”

She stopped him mid-sentence and put her hands on his shoulders. Her eyes sparkled with tears as she smiled and looked at him.

“It is alright. It has been seven years, since we sent him off. It is time to let go of your anger. We have never regretted our decision. We are among the few souls who have been truly blessed. Our son paved the way for our salvation. Let us listen to this tribute and accept it, gratefully. Shall we?” she inquired, lovingly.

He stared at his companion of 28 years, pondering the depth of a woman’s understanding. How is it that a simple homely woman is more insightful than a fully grown man? Whatever it was, her perception moved him. Wrapping his arm around her shoulders, he turned the song back on and they were transported down the bittersweet memory lane again by the beautiful melody.

This melody is none other than the prequel to the Coke Studio, season nine. The legendary song sung by Madam Noor Jehan has been recreated by the makers of Coke Studio this time. The preview shows a variety of old and new singers lined up for a phenomenal new season. The video to this melody kicks off with Zeb Bangash followed by the talented Ahmed Jehanzeb. Following suit is an unexpected trio of Mehwish Hayat, Umair Jaswal and Shiraz Uppal.

After their chorus, Sanam Marvi lights it up followed by Nirmal Roy and Kashif Ali’s voices. Fans of the studio must have rejoiced at the sight and sound of Saieen Zahoor. Shahzad Nawaz and Jaffer Zaidi join the rocking Ali Azmat in the next stanza. Rachel Viccaji and Rizwan Butt are also seen picking up rhythm after them. Ali Khan, Asim Azhar and Haroon Shahid are also a part of this illustrious tribute. The gorgeous Sara Haider returns this season with the extremely charming, Mohsin Abbas.

One minute and 11 seconds into the song, the vocal powerhouse, Naseebo Lal joins in with Jabar Abbas and the melodious voice of Rafaqat Ali Khan. One of the most impactful lines is delivered by the pride of Pakistani music, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan. The dusky Meesha Shafi with Naeem Abbas Rufi carry the song further. Javed Bashir’s brilliant vocal clarity uplifts the song entirely.

The second part starts with the excellent combination of QB and Noori. Faakhir and Natasha Khan carried it quite gracefully, handing it to Momina Mustehsan and Junaid Khan. Abida Parveen fires it up with her unparalleled voice. The sight of Shaheed Amjad Sabri brings tears to countless eyes watching this video. Other singers are Damia Farooq, Basit Ali, Shuja Haider, Masooma Anwar and Shani Arshad. The video ends with Ali Sethi’s classical voice.

This melodious tribute to those who laid down their precious lives for Pakistan is serenely beautiful. This type of music is what helps us encounter loss, joy, pain and love for our homeland. It is what rejuvenates the spirit of the soldiers and their loved ones at home. It recapitulates the memory of the brilliant sacrifices that were given by our able men and women for protecting this land.

Such is the power of this tribute. It recalls, it reiterates and it honours. Most of all, it helps us understand.

Fatima Raza

Fatima Raza

The author is a Biosciences graduate and a student of MPhil International Relations. She aspires to be an accomplished writer someday.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.