“Our classical music is a part of our culture that we are proud of,” said Saffia S. Beyg at the launch of her book Sampurna at the Alliance Francaise here on Saturday evening.
The launch was attended by many of her students, who have all studied music under her at one time or another over the years. They lovingly referred to the octogenarian as ‘Saffia Apa’ or just ‘Apa’ while sharing their experience of learning with her. So many of them who were away or couldn’t be there also sent in recorded video messages, congratulating her on the launch of the book.
“The book has been done with a lot of my emotion. I wanted to do it for our young generation, who need to know and understand that classical music is nothing to be afraid of. It is something very beautiful,” said Saffia Apa.
Renowned ghazal singer Tina Sani, a proud student of Apa’s, was also present on the occasion. “Just sitting with you, Apa, was more than music. It was more about life. It was more about finding inner peace,” said Tina, while sharing about how she would get irritated when a note or raga wasn’t working out for her. “Apa, then, would calm me down, help me make friends with the notes and tones. I owe so much of my music to Apa,” she said.
In her recorded message, Sabeen Rizvi, a young student, said that her musical journey with Apa was amazing. “To understand what it was like you must read the book,” she said.
Laraib Fatima, another student, said that Apa had a very different way of teaching music to her students. “Other teachers teach you with a harmonium but she does it with a tanpura,” she said. “She is not just a teacher, but a mentor and a friend. Like its author, the book is a great asset for all of us,” said Afsheen, another young student of Apa’s.
![ Saffiah Beyg signs copies of her book Sampurna — Photo courtesy Saffiah Beyg's Facebook 2
Noor Manviwala, another student, said that she came to Apa after learning how to play the guitar and piano herself. “Still, I had so much more to learn. And she helped me fill the gaps,” she said. Junaid Zuberi, who was a part of the television show by the same name, Sampurna, for over a decade from 2000 to 2011 with Saffia Apa, said that he was moved to tears the first time he heard her sing.
Dr Nighat, a friend of Apa’s, said that she wanted to see the television show Sampurna revived. “It is sad that it was discontinued,” she said. “Music is a way to calm the soul. It can change the environment.”
One of Apa’s young students, Mehreen Rizvi, then sang a small bandish (melodic composition) in Raag Yaman.
The evening ended with a minute’s silence in memory of the late Ustad Rais Khan on Saffia Apa’s request.
Originally published in Dawn, November 13th, 2017