Baul Samrat’ Shah Abdul Karim no more
Known nationwide as 'Baul Samrat,' mystic bard Shah Abdul Karim died of age related ailments at a Sylhet hospital yesterday morning. He was 93.Nurjahan General Hospital authorities confirmed that Karim breathed his last at 7:58am.The coffin of the 'Baul Samrat' was taken to the Sylhet Shaheed Minar at 1:00pm yesterday. People from all walks of life paid homage to the bard.The legendary poet-lyricist was kept on life-support at the Intensive Care Unit of the hospital after his condition deteriorated on Friday. Karim was taken to the hospital from his village home in Ujandhol, under Derai upazila of Sunamganj district on September 3.Abdul Karim was born nearly hundred years ago. Karim never had a chance to attend school. But the gifted rhymester learnt from and was inspired by his surroundings, the people and nature and in time turned into a living legend.The river Kalni, which flows very near to Karim's home, was a muse to the bard. Many of his songs articulate the riverine lifestyle. His songs metaphorically speak of the unsolved riddle of creation.Some of his popular numbers are, "Agey ki shundor din kataitam," "Kon mestori nau banaisey," "Bashonto batashey," "Ami tomar koler gari," "Bondhey maya lagaisey," "Tomra kunjo shajao go" and "Gari choley na".Karim's songs were published in six books: "Aftab Sangeet," "Gano Sangeet," "Kalnir Dheu," "Dholmela," "Bhatir Chithi" and "Kalnir Kooley." Bangla Academy translated ten of his songs into English.The life and works of Karim have been featured in Shakur Majid's documentary "Bhatir Purush". Journalist Faruk Mehedy also made a documentary on the legend, titled "Shikor".The late Ruhi Thakur and Ranesh Thakur are widely known as Karim's direct disciples. Karim's only son, Shah Nur Jalal, is also a folk singer.The band Dolchhut and singer-composer Habib Wahid have widely popularised Karim's songs among the young urban music enthusiasts.Habib, who is currently in London, couldn't be contacted. His father, renowned singer Ferdaus Wahid, said, "With the demise of Shah Abul Karim, we have lost a legend who could be considered a pillar of Bangla folk music. The divine bond between the creator and his creation has been defined in an uncomplicated, yet profound way in his compositions." "Habib is what he is today, thanks to Shah Abdul Karim's incomparable songs," Ferdaus Wahid added. It was in 2003, when Habib, a student of London University, came across the Shah Abdul Karim song, "Bondhey maya lagaisey". The song had an indelible impact on the young musician. For the next one and half years, Habib researched on Shah Abdul Karim's music. The result was Habib's debut album "Krishno". Seasoned folk artiste Kiran Chandra Roy said, "If the contemporary Bangla folk music is compared to the solar system, Shah Abdul Karim was definitely at the centre. We have lost one of the greatest artistes and our folk music has lost a true 'son of the soil'.”"We had performed together at several programmes. In 1997/'98, he asked me to tune one of his songs 'Pran kandey mon kandey'. It was a great honour for me," reminisced Roy. Karim was awarded the 'Ekushey Padak' in 2001. In 2005, he received the 'Meril-Prothom Alo' Lifetime Achievement Award. The 'Baul Samrat' will be buried next to his wife Sarala in his yard today.