KARACHI: As the country mourns the death of the legendary melody king, Mehdi Hassan, his family makes preparations for his funeral which will take place on June 15 after the Jumma prayers following the arrival of his two sons from the United States.
Family members, disciples, fans, members of the musical fraternity, media personalities and politicians thronged at Hassan’s residence in the Federal B Area’s Block 20 upon the news of his demise.
His disciples, children and family were just as humble as the maestro himself, without any pretence. Spread on a 120 square-yard plot, his house stood out from the others in the lane only because it was the only three-storey house. The inside mirrored the singer’s preference for simplicity, without any traces of pomp and glamour. The mood was visibly somber in the black tent erected outside his house. His disciple, Ikram Mehdi, who took the singer’s last name in his honour, was sitting on the floor outside Hassan’s house. Afifa, a fan of the singer, travelled all the way from North Karachi with her husband to pay her tribute while media personnel, children and political activists looked after the arrangements.
His son, Asif Mehdi’s tears were uncontrollable. “He was a very good father. He would explain to us what was good and bad.” According to Hassan’s family, the singer’s impaired-speech due to a stroke was repaired towards the end. Almost a week before his death, he started talking and recognising his family members. “When I asked my grandfather when he would like to go home, he said in two to three days,” said Hassan’s grandson, Hasan. “But yesterday night, he suddenly asked us to ‘prepare ourselves and start sending the news’, which I did not understand.”
In one of his last videos, shot by his grandson, Hassan is shown actively talking at his bed in the hospital. He shared his dream in which his two deceased wives are by his sides in front of white-winged fans.
According to family members, the fact that his health improved and he was given a chance to be with his family, was perhaps a sign that his death was nearing. The arrival of his son, Kamran, from the US a week ago made his last days more pleasurable. Hassan leaves behind nine sons and five daughters, who reside in Karachi, Lahore and the US.
Except for his two sons in Lahore and the other two in the US, all of Hassan’s children were by his death bed.
The Karachi Arts Council spokerperson, Amin Yousuf, announced a three-day mourning period.
The rush of the incoming celebrities and the arrangements were managed by members of the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM), media men and family members.
While the singer was suffering from ill-health since 2001 and his condition further deteriorated in 2011, his family members did not expect him to pass away so soon. He had crossed 85 years of his life and there were plans to take him to India for treatment.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 14th, 2012.
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