Love Letters To Icons: Tina Sani

There are countless female icons that have coloured our history and left a lasting impression on us with their talent, charisma and presence. Every week, Ammaar – known on Instagram as ammaavocado – will be sharing his letter of love and admiration to some of these inspiring women. This week it’s to the nightingale of ghazals – the woman with a heartfelt voice, Tina Sani.

Dearest Tina,

There’s a pause between syllables of a poem that most people don’t understand, a beat percussion of sorts — where the poet allows the listener to inhale a metaphor or an emotion, and swallow whatever grief it pulled out of the graveyard of their memory — it’s interesting how it may all seem like a miracle.

Jesus was given the miracle to resurrect. People would come begging for him to bring their loved ones back but the miracle is always sourced by God, and so he could or could not bless them another life.

Tina, when I listen to you, I miss those I loved and lost. I imagine them in the moment I am in right now— driving in the same car that I once drove to pick up someone I loved and who I’ve replaced, agonisingly, but also successfully. And for a brief moment, I imagine her next to me. I imagine her also lip-syncing the poems you’re gracing your voice with.

For Ghazaals, Tina, the miracle of resurrection is not bound only to memories. Ghazaals are also blessed with resurrecting poetry. Poems that were only written and never had a voice, you took them and gave them what they deserved.

For me, your grace was most appreciated when you used your miracle to resurrect “Mori Araj Suno” and “Nawai Nay” for coke studio. You were the very few legends on the coke studio season, but the only one that truly lived up to the expectations of anyone who had only heard of you as a classical singer that was once great but has now submitted their greatness to the art they love.

Tina, for me, your miracle met my eyes when I heard your version Dasht-e-Tanhai. The ghazal itself is achingly melancholic but the way you read it ensued a specific kind of pain that only comes from being left alone to whatever the night grows into — its jaws growing through all this twilight— and how it can mercilessly scatter someone’s heart.

I fell in love with you, in one of those nights, Tina. In a night when there was too much sorrow to swallow, and perhaps too little appetite for pain— god knows a writer would never shy away from pain— I played Dasht-e-Tanhai, and felt your voice ocean a room that was once a stranded desert.

And perhaps what you really meant when you sang “Dasht-e-Tanhai” is that a river must be built out of what the poets can offer so that we might float once again out of grief’s island.

I wish you health, Tina. I wish you alive, for as long as living is a luxury for you. I wish you a heaven with everyone you loved and lost gathered around a dinner table, smiling as they see you approach the table, and after dinner they humbly request you to sing a ghazal you loved most. I wish you the endless decadence into your craft— that moment when you dive into the ghazal so deep that coming out is no longer desired.

Love,

Ammaar.

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