Khademul Jahan has played guitar for the band ‘Black’ for two decades. He retells the story of selling his guitar for a sitar and surviving a car crash. More anecdotes follow.
As the winds of spring began to crest, we interviewed Khademul Jahan in the evening. Sinking into his couch, we noticed a classical guitar. The amber coloured acoustic looked pristine for its age.
"I bought this guitar in 1996," Jahan said. His dated but mint guitar tells a lot about his devotion to classical music.
Jahan credits his elder brother Insan for the music orientation he received from him. "From handpicked albums to guitar amps, I inherited a lot from him," Jahan said. "Our debut album's cover photo and some of the earliest photos of 'Black' were taken by him."
Jahan, a fine arts graduate, grew up in a joint family. His folks had a knack for music. Growing up in the ripe age of 'MTV,' Jahan developed an affinity with classical music as well.
When Jahan decided to learn to play Sitar, he enrolled into Chayanat. He wanted to buy a second hand Sitar that would cost him 8,000tk. Jahan, then twenty something, was going through a cash crisis. So what did he do?
"I sold one of my acoustic guitars to manage the money," Jahan said. "I couldn't resist getting my hands on the Sitar."
When we asked if he is the only musician who had to sell his guitar for a Sitar, his brief reply was "probably," with a wide smile.
In 1999, Jahan co-founded the rock band Black along with his friends. For the debut album 'Amar Prithibi,' the lineup subsided with Jon Kabir, Mehmud Tony, Tahsan Khan, Miraz and Khademul Jahan.
Jahan's sitar camaraderie began with the song 'Amar prithibi,' a seminal track from the debut album of Black. His sitar intro is a staple of this song, making it one of the most popular songs by the band.
"Did you ever perform 'Amar prithibi' on stage with sitar?" We had to ask since Jahan is the guitarist of the band. "If you did play sitar on stage, then who filled in for the guitar solos?"
"I only got to play sitar with the band this one time," Jahan said. "The sound was not supportive for a sitar to blend with plugged instruments. So I never tried again."
"This one time, Ershad Zaman played guitar as a guest while I played sitar on that show," he added.
As we delved deeper into retrospect, a cardinal question arose.
"Will Black ever do a reunion show with Tahsan, Jon and Miraz?"
"Of course. Why not? A reunion show will definitely happen somewhere down the line," Jahan said unhesitatingly.
Jubair Emon, the lyricist who wrote a handful of songs for the band, passed away in 2014. Jahan gave us a sneak peek on the lyricist's secluded but creative life.
"He was an eccentric man. He rarely went out of his house until he needed a haircut. He studied history at the University of Dhaka. Other than writing some of the best songs of Black, he was also a prolific blogger and novelist. He had written a 2,400 page novel which is due to be published in the next Ekushey book fair."
In 2005, Black was supposed to perform in a concert in Chattogram. Due to some
unavoidable reasons, they couldn't play on stage. Being dismayed, they were en route to Dhaka by a microbus. The band members were on board, along with the sound engineer Imran Ahmed Chowdhury Mobin. Past midnight, they stopped over at Cumilla for dinner. The band ate and rested. When they took to the road, it was almost four o'clock in the morning. Then happened the fateful accident that altered their lives.
In a blinking moment, the microbus turned over. Everyone spurted out of the car momentarily. The car crashed at a paddy field. It took a while to get back their senses. When they did, Mobin's lifeline was fading.
Surprisingly, Jahan was the least injured. He hailed a rickshaw and took Mobin to the nearest Upazila health complex. When the word spread about the mishap, onlookers swarmed in front of the premise. "I was holding Mobin bhai by his shoulder to take him to a doctor," Jahan said. "I could sense him dying. His body was turning cold."
Mobin was declared dead at the health complex. Tahsan, Jon, Miraz and Jahan received further treatment in Dhaka. Mobin, whom the band considered as a mentor, left a permanent melancholia for the fellow band members with his demise.
As the interview closed with a promise of future rendezvous, we stepped out of Jahan's office. Suddenly, a young man hurried past us. He was wearing a t-shirt of the band Black, the t-shirt bore the sentence "Black forever."