He sat there in the rickshaw, his mother holding him firmly on her lap, as the rickshaw travelled the inner roads with potholes in Banani. He was around ten years old. This was on Mondays and Wednesdays, when Abbasuddin Shongeet Academy in Banani offered him a chance to learn music. Anondo was very keen and never missed a class. His father would pick them up later when the classes finished after 5 pm. Anondo wished there was more. This was around 1992 when the Academy was adorned with the august presence of Ustad Omar Faruq (in classical music), Maestro Abdul Latif (folk songs), and Guru Sudhin Das (for Nazrul songs). His thirsty soul was very eager to take more from these extraordinary tutors under the able guidance of Maestro Ferdausi Rahman, the Principal of the Academy. He completed all five years of this curriculum.
Amidst his training, he had the opportunity to be a child artist in Khalamoni alias Ferdausi Rahman's famous children's programme, Esho Gaan Shikhi. While he practiced the songs and participated in the shows, he eagerly devoured everything around him, which included the frolics and dramatization of the two puppets Mithu and Monty in the Esho Gaan Shikhi program. He participated in other programs on BTV titled Rumjhum, Shorgol and Shubheccha. He also enjoyed meeting other celebrities of drama, music, dance, and all the creative arts who happened to frequent the Rampura TV studios when Anondo was recording for the children's show. Anondo Khan won the National Award in two categories in Notun Kuri, children's competition aired on BTV. One was for Nazrul Sangeet and the other was for Patriotic Songs, receiving the prize from the Prime Minister in 1995.
During those five years at the Abbsuddin Shongeet Academy, he recalls sitting in Virginia, after completion of his show in the 17th Nazrul Convention, were great exposure for him. He is reminded of being personally taught by Ferdausi Rahman and opened his repertoire in 2018 with the famous Nazrul song taught to him by her Asibe Tumi Jani Priyo.
For me, talking to him is like seeing a bud growing and blossoming into the full flower. This particular song was written for Abbasuddin Ahmed by poet Kazi Nazrul Islam in the late 20s and marks a great song for the Abbasuddin legacy; I was so touched by the song he chose!
Anondo works as a software development manager and is settled in USA. His thirst remained and so did his adulation and amazement at the maestros from whom he had learned so much. In USA he started teaching small children and ended up having students aged five to 75! One day, he thought of presenting a show titled Esho Gaan Shikhi in Washington DC (it is now available on the YouTube), paying tribute to his Gurus in December 2016. He went through a six week rigorous training with his students to present this program on stage. Of course, all the rehearsals had to be on weekends and thanks to the parents of these children, who showed equal zest in bringing this effort to fruition; Anondo Khan was even able to produce the two puppets Mithu and Monty with puppeteers from his friend circle to enable the program to be a replica of what he had experienced in his student years.
Anondo is not only involved in cultural events and website maintenance in USA including Bangamela, BAAI, DUAFI and others. Anondo is an enthusiast social worker. He coordinated a voluntary initiative for around 36 deprived kids. In Bangladesh, he collected and distributed clothes to people in North Bengal (2012) and distributed relief to cyclone SIDR hit victims (2007). In USA, he takes part in yearly Food Donation Drive for shelters in Maryland and Virginia.
I was reminded of Abbasuddin Ahmed (1901-1959), who as a student had started a community service for parents whose children had black fever. Abbasuddin lived in Cooch Behar, West Bengal, where he had a students' group who would stay up all night when youngsters would suffer from black fever and provide relief to their parents for the same. After his metric exams, Abbasuddin hung the harmonium on his neck and sang his Bhawayya songs, going door to door and collected RS 400 to start a girl's school in his village named Balarampur.
Anondo not only follows Abbasuddin in music, Anondo follows him in his social work too. I hope there are many more replications of Anondo; the privileged must think of others who are not equally so.
Nashid Kamal is a Professor of Demography, Nazrul Singer and Translator.