Hundreds pay their last respects to Jagjit Singh

She stood near him, her fragile figure trying to be resolute. Big, dark glasses covered her eyes, which were filled with sadness and tears. It had been nearly 24 hours since her husband, known to the world as ghazal maestro, Jagjit Singh passed away after suffering a brain haemorrhage.

Island of grief

Chitra Singh finally let herself go after the funeral, as close relatives and celebrities tried to console her. It looked like she was standing alone on an island of grief.

Said a moved Sonu Nigam: “We believed he would fight. His death is very unexpected of a person who was as strong-willed as him. Just a month ago, when I had met him, I pulled his cheeks like I usually did. I didn't know that it would be the last time I would fill his cheeks in my hands.” The singer shared a personal bond with the legendary artiste.

“Life is so random!” said famous lyricist Javed Akhtar, who had talked to Jagjit Singh just a day before he was admitted to the hospital. “I still have his call on my cell phone. He had called me at 3.04 p.m. We had discussed plans for next year, the programmes we were to do together,” he said.

Private person

People close to Jagjit Singh said he was a private person who liked to lead his life away from the media glare. The Singh family had maintained its private space even when the news of Jagjit Singh's hospitalisation broke. Only the hospital authorities issued a short statement.

‘Eternal voice’

After the funeral on Tuesday, Sonu Nigam said: “If he were around, he wouldn't have liked any show of the grief. It is a huge loss. His voice was eternal.”

Mr. Akhtar said that often clich?s were not irrelevant. “People say, ‘his loss is irreparable. No one can fill his place.' It is so true about Jagjit. He had made a unique place for himself. It is unprecedented. Making your place outside film music is an unbelievable feat,” he said.

“Urdu ghazal loses its sheen. Urdu markaz,” a placard in the crematorium read.

“We have lost a beautiful singer. It is not just the loss for India and Pakistan, but of the entire world,” famous Pakistani ghazal singer Ghulam Ali told The Hindu. He was to perform with Jagjit Singh the day the latter was hospitalised. “We were not destined to do that show together,” he lamented.

Fans were seen crying inconsolably, as famous film personalities lamented the “death of an era.”

‘Inherent peace’

“There was a kind of inherent peace in his voice. It was the voice of a person who was at peace with himself. Listening to him would give solace to the listener,” Mr. Akhtar said.

Pandit Jasraj was among hundreds who came to pay their last respect to the departed soul. Among those present were Gulzar, Javed Akhtar, Suresh Wadkar, Kunal Ganjawala, Roop Kumar Rathod, Pankaj Udhas, Kailash Kher, Shaan, Sonu Nigam, Raj Babbar, Vinod Khanna, Madhur Bhandarkar, Yash Chopra, Kabir Bedi.