The moment the late night notification of KK’s demise popped up on the phone screen, it felt like a hefty punch in the stomach and the heart splintered into pieces. Every time I went through the flooded posts on social media, the feeling just got stronger. It took me a whole day to process. It was the next day when sitting back on my chair after my afternoon shower, I tried to recollect all the memories, feelings, pleasures, and emotions associated with KK.
In October of 2008, we took a little family trip to Delhi. My first Taj Mahal visit to be precise. I was too young but I clearly remember the day I was first introduced to KK’s voice.
It was late evening and I peeked through the hotel’s window simply watching the Delhi crowd and then from a distance I heard this song playing- ‘Sajde Mein Yun Hi Jhukta Hoon, Tum Pe Hi Aake Rukta Hoon, Kya Yeh Sabko Hota hai, and it totally absorbed me. I have no idea what compelled the 5th standard girl to like a song so much that she could barely relate to.
But now when I think about it, I realise it was an ‘in the moment’ feeling. You are in your moment, in a new city full of new people and when you were in that moment, a song plays from a distance, not just a song, a song that seems to accord with that situation you were in for some reason, a reason you are unaware of but it provided you with a connection with something you didn’t know before and made you feel good and you save it as a memory.
At that point in time, I had no idea what song that was about and was unable to even memorise the lyrics, so simply wrote ‘Sajde mein’ in my travel diary (that’s what you do in a non-google era) in the hope to find out the song someday- only to realise later that this voice is going to have such an impact on my life.
In later years, my elder brother started playing KK’s songs on his computer. Maybe he played his songs before but it was after the first encounter I started paying more attention, and eventually became a fan. It was the uniqueness and the distinctness his voice carried that made him immediately identifiable. I became a fan even before I could understand the term clearly.
It reached its peak only when I heard his song ‘Mere Bina‘ from the movie Crook and listened to it incessantly. It was then when I started making his songs my entire soundtrack and that was the moment when I felt that there’s no way of going back from this now. Since then, I used to fill in every slambook (Favourite Singer- KK, Favourite Song- Mere Bina) and it has been like that for years now. It would be impossible to overstate his importance to me.
All his songs are a masterpiece in their own way. One cannot judge his songs on the basis of their popularity, because his songs were a coping mechanism for every pattern of changes we went through, from childhood to adulthood. Especially in our teen years, we all continuously thrive on a feeling of belonging somewhere and for me, it was in his songs where I found a sense of belongingness as his songs worked for both happy and emotional rock bottom phase of my life. His songs are a bouquet of love, pain, grief and joy and always provided with a certain level of comfort. From singing his song ‘Yaroon’ in unison in school/college farewells to silently dealing with heartbreak, his songs were enough medication for a million sorrows.
When one takes a good look at KK’s life, it will be insufficient to appreciate him only for his voice. He was a humble, grounded and down-to-earth man with the same warmth and humour off screen. His down-to-earth demeanour hints at why the force of what he created appealed to many, mainly in the traditional folk crowd. No single controversy to date. Maybe, that is why it never bothered us to know his full name and we identify him only as ‘KK’.
For a fact, KK didn’t receive the limelight he deserved, he was not underrated but he didn’t receive the accolades compared to the contemporaries of his era, but he won the hearts of many people like us. Some people create art that’d sell to the majority audience of a particular time. But KK created art solely on raw feelings. That’s what made him most lovable in our generation.
Now when you think about why KK’s demise felt like a personal loss, why the whole lot of us couldn’t cope with the news, it is because we lost a companion. A companion of our happy and gloomy days, a companion who helped us in healing and secretly dealing, a companion who taught us expressing and loving too much is okay, a companion who was always there no matter what and a companion who never made us feel guilty of not fitting in a certain space.
To the man, to our sole companion – Thank you. Thank you for always being there on both stormy and sunny days. We are forever indebted to your legacy.
KK rightly said – ‘Such keh raha hai deewana dil, dil na kisi se lagaana’ Because, when that one person leaves, it is difficult to feel the same as before.
In a pool of musicians, there will always be one KK for us.
You’ll rest in a million hearts.
Goodbye and thanks, Sir.