On 23rd of September I got to hear that Jagjit Singh had suffered a haemorrhage and had to have an emergency operation and despite the doctors managing to stabilize him, Jagjit slipped into a coma. Ever since then there have been new silly stories every single day of people proclaiming he’s dead. Don’t say something unless you can clarify it. I know of one radio station (NOT EAST FM!) that actually had status updates on social forums passing their condolences on his passing away.
To me Jagjit Singh is the reason why I love ghazals. I must have been a pre-teen when I first heard his voice because my Mum is an avid lover of music and had all these TDK cassettes with strange and wonderful music she would play in her room and listen to as she relaxed after coming home from work. There would be music in the kitchen too and I still vividly recall Mum’s creased forehead, outstretched right arm, half closed eyes as she soulfully sung along with Jagjit & his wife Chitra.
When I listen to his ghazals I always make a similar face to my Mum’s except I can’t sing along to save my life but my eyes do tear up when I listen to the soulful melodies and I know I’m not the only who thinks so, but Jagjit would sing the story of my life in his ghazals.
I’m very lucky to have seen him live in concert. My son was not even a week old and I got myself discharged from hospital despite the doctor insisting I needed to stay one more day but i really wanted to see him in concert and I got front row tickets to watch him perform at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre. You must be wondering how I sat through a concert just after giving birth – well I was pretty organised. I blew up a child’s swimming ring, covered it in a white pillow case and managed to sit through the concert very comfortably. I was quite gutted that the sound system was such a let-down but the performer that he was, Jagjit was unfazed and even gave instructions to the sound engineer on what to do to ensure proper sound.
It is a great loss but I chose today not to mourn him but to celebrate his life with his achievements and the huge legacy of beautiful music that he has left behind. The Big Guy Up There probably has a face and arm outstretched like my Mum as he too enjoys the soulful ghazals of Jagjit Singh…