Rather than being discouraged by the pamphlet objecting to her musical show, teenage singer Nahid Afrin has emerged “stronger and determined to sing”. “Initially I was sad, but not worried. And when I found that almost everybody is behind me, I have not only emerged stronger, but also determined that I will sing in Hojai.”
The pamphlet, released by 46 persons representing various Islamic organisations and madrasas, asked the organisers of a Nahid Afrin musical night to call it off “because singing, like dancing and magic shows, is a un-Shariat activity”.
Assam’s Afrin (14) had made it to the finals of Indian Idol Junior in 2015. A resident of Biswanath Chariali, a small town 260 km east of Guwahati, she is scheduled to perform exclusively at the musical night organised in aid of Udali Sports Association at Udali, a locality in Hojai district, about 215 km from here, on March 25.
While the pamphlet has caused a sensation, Afrin has refused to get bogged down by it. “Singing is god’s greatest gift to me. Singing is my passion, my life. I find everything in singing. I find god, I find peace, I find courage, I find pleasure. Without singing my soul will be missing,” she said, returning home from school Thursday afternoon. She had stayed at home on Wednesday because of the pamphlet.
She admitted she was disturbed, but added that she had found more strength after the threat. “I would like to say a big thank you to them because their harsh words made me stronger. My only appeal to them is: please don’t do it to others. Instead, they should engage themselves in encouraging people,” Afrin said.
A student of Little Star School who has just been promoted to Class X, Afrin is an all-rounder of sorts. “She is not just a wonderful singer but also a very good actor, dancer, debater, quizzard and leader. She was the school captain in 2016,” said Lily Gohain Borah, the principal. She scored over 90 per cent in most of her exams, Borah added.
“Even as a little girl, she would be glued to musical programmes on television. When she was five, Gupta Borthakur, a family friend who had worked with Bhupen Hazarika, predicted she would become a good singer. We took her to Bibli Bhagawati, a music teacher in our neighbourhood, who taught her an Assamese song. It fetched her third prize in school when she was in Class I,” said her mother Fatema Ansari.
Under the guidance of Bibli and Dibakar Borah, Afrin picked up songs of various genres, and more than 60 prizes from state-level competitions.
Anower Ansari, a junior engineer at Biswanath Development Block, said this was not the first time his daughter had faced such problems. “In 2015 when she had entered the final rounds of Indian Idol, some people in Biswanath pointed fingers, saying gathering votes for a singing contest was like taking bribes. But the Muslim society here did not give any importance to that, and the attempt died a natural death,” he said.
“I don’t know who these people from Udali are. But the best thing is that the people have decided to negate the attempt to stop her from singing,” he added.
While Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal called up Adrin on Wednesday and promised her security, she and her parents do not see any immediate need for police protection. Later in the evening, the police provided a personal security officer to Afrin. This was a temporary measure, SP B Singha said.