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OP-ED: Thank you for the memories, Aly Zaker

  • Published at 01:24 am November 29th, 2020
Aly Zaker
Goodbye, Aly Zaker COURTESY

The great actor took Shakespeare’s words to heart, and treated his life as a series of stages

The more things change, the more they stay the same. 2020 might have been unprecedented in terms of a global pandemic and presidential candidates literally suing their own governments, but once you skim away the icing, you will find the same cake.

Bombs still drop, people still die, and with each death, we lose but another portion of our childhood, forever losing the ability to go back to it. I am, of course, talking about the unfortunate passing of actor, director, and story-teller -- Aly Zaker.

Most of us know him as Farid Mama from Bohubrihi, or as Asgor from Aaj Rabibar. Some of us even know him for his various personas on stage, the latest of which was his donning the role of Galileo Galilei in the Bengali adaptation of The Life of Galileo.

A lot of us don’t know him as the leading man behind Asiatic 3sixty, although the signature blend of everyday mundanity with hyper-realistic set pieces in the company’s ads should have been our first hint that this man was behind this venture as well. In short, he took Shakespeare’s advice to heart, and treated his entire lifetime as a series of stages.

And whatever role he donned, he was so successful that even if someone only caught a glimpse of him, that someone would remember and cherish that glimpse for the rest of their life.

As such, it is no surprise that his death is such a huge loss to us. The man practically made our childhoods, and he reminds us of a warmer time when the whole apartment would get together on occasions to watch dramas like Bohubrihi or Aaj Rabibar. It reminds us of times when our parents would allow us to skip our studies just to sit in front of the TV and see him perform.

Yes, we have Netflix and Hulu now, but he reminds us of a time when we didn’t need it, a time when we were content with a single channel on our TVs. Aly Zaker, and his generation as a whole, reminds us of a time when magic and warmth still existed in the world, and as such, they would always be an important milestone for us, and the generations that came before us.

A lot of that only exists in memory now, as the whole media dynamic has changed into something unrecognizable and grotesque since then. And with the passing of such an important figure from that era, it has become clear that we are in the final few pages of that era, and the book is closing fast.

Still, even after this, and especially for our generation, his death means something else as well. In the past few years, we have lost Alan Rickman, David Bowie, Diego Maradona, Humayun Ahmed, and many more. It signifies something that all of us know, but have chosen to ignore.

After all, a lot of these things happened while we were in our mid and late teens, and this provided us with a sense of plausible deniability and escapism. After all, we were still in college and university, so we’re still kids, right? On that note, how poetic is it that the maestro -- who used irony and deadpan humour to bring out the secrets of the world -- died right on the precipice of our adulthood?

It is as if that with one last magic trick, he patted us on the back to bring us face to face to reality, and remind us that one can’t live in the past forever, and that eventually, we will have to accept that there is no way back, and carry on from there.

And that brings us to the intro of this column. With each death of this magnitude, we always blame the year. What we fail to understand is that it is not the year. Our childhood heroes do not stay crystallized in time, but instead, they age with us. And just as we are entering the middle part, they are approaching the end. And sooner or later, all of them will be gone, leaving behind only the memory of static and wooden TV sets.

But all is not bad. Just as the old is gone, something new comes as well. The warmth of the past is gone, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t embrace the opportunities of the future. Like most of you, I have been in dark places during the end of my teenage years, but I’m doing alright now. In fact, I’m looking forward to the future with hope. And isn’t that what Farid Mama, the awkward film-maker with a heart full of passion, would want?

Even then, goodbyes aren’t easy. But sooner or later, they will have to be bid. So yes, goodbye, Aly Zaker. Thanks for all the memories.

Nafis Shahriar is a student of business and a freelance writer.

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