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In memoriam Zeheen Ahmed

  • Published at 01:48 pm July 22nd, 2018
In memoriam Zeheen Ahmed
Photo Courtesy: Shihab Rashid

‘Zeheen Ahmed will live forever through our music’ – Mechanix

On July 22 last year, I was at a concert when the susurration began, before a gut-wrenching, heart-rending, wave of anguish rippled through the crowd.

Zeheen Ahmed, guitarist of heavy metal band Mechanix, was no longer with us.

I was in denial. Perhaps it was a hoax. I certainly wished so. Death hoaxes happen all too often. It hurt, it stung, it was unfair. It, for all intents and purposes, was something that should not have happened.

For all the misery the crowd, including me, felt, it could not fathom the grief of a father whose son had been ripped away from him. Zeheen’s musical prowess was in his blood. His father, Manam Ahmed – keyboard player for Miles – was set to perform with the band at the concert. I did not see him, but I knew he and the band had whisked away in their time of loss.

Zeheen’s untimely death reminded us once again of how overwhelming depression can be. He fought depression night and day, with his friends and family, and his music. 

After returning to Dhaka, I did not get a chance to see Mechanix or catch up with them due to their busy schedule. 

It has been a whole year since Zeheen left us – his family, peers, and fans. Everyone who knew him, will cherish their memories of him for all the magic he brought to our lives. 

The day before his death, Zeheen attended a tribute concert to Soundgarden’s late frontman Chris Cornell – who had taken his life after struggling with depression. Months later, Linkin Park vocalist Chester Bennington too succumbed to depression.

Mechanix has always made music that appealed to the core of my being. I have written about them for years. I had the opportunity to know the band to discover how close-knit they were.

After Zeheen’s death, I could only wonder – how did the band cope with his loss?

The band dropped by the Dhaka Tribune offices recently and opened up to us.

Tridib, vocalist of the band, said: “It still feels surreal to think about Zeheen’s death. He had stayed with me the night before, and we were supposed to go to Shilpakala to attend a civic tribute program in memory of the legendary singer and composer Lucky Akhand.

“When he left us, we felt shattered and devastated, we did not want to carry on Mechanix anymore without him. It was an incredibly difficult decision and process to continue. Our friends and family were there to help us. They helped us realize Zeheen will live forever through our music – the music of Mechanix.”

The Mechanix frontman grew nostalgic as he continued: “He was a completely different person on the stage. You could never tell. He expressed his emotions in the only way he knew how – through his music.”

Reaz, the drummer, met Zeheen at the 2008 Guitar Fest.

“Zeheen was a larger-than-life musician. He had so much to accomplish. He was one of those gifted musicians. He was tremendously interested in instrumental performances. Zeheen had plans for an instrumental album.”

The band members all chimed in a chorus: “Whenever we were jamming, we would turn to discussing his solos all the time.”

In 2016, Zeheen formed DiouxNation – a guitar duo – with fellow guitarist Shafat Ahmed. Their debut track “Split The Chains” was released to overwhelmingly positive reviews.

Tridib added: “A lot of people may not know this, but Zeheen had a great voice as well. We wanted him to sing. But he never chose to.”

Salek, the bassist, noted: “Zeheen had many, many qualities. He had a knack for making people feel comfortable around him on the stage. He was a perfectionist, but he did not demand it, he inspired it. It takes an exceptional performer to help their co-performers focus.”

In time, we shall age and wither away. Yet, Zeheen will remain the 27-year-old brilliant guitarist who will inspire generations after generations of young Bangladeshi musicians to pick up the guitar. His life will be celebrated for all the music he left behind. 

What mind dares forget his energy on the stage, the enthusiasm with his signature Ibajez JEM as he set the world on fire?

Zeheen Ahmed now jams in the great gig in the sky.

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