By Rachit Raj

I return from school. Tired. A quick snack and I put on 9XM, and there it is – ‘Haan Tu Hai’ playing on the channel. Visuals of Emran Hashmi walking past a television telecasting the World Cup as the song continues. I relax on the sofa, enjoying that familiar voice of a man whose full name one never cared to Google. There seemed no reason for it. K.K. was all that he was for us. A singer who quietly owned one of the best eras of Hindi Film music and became a nostalgic nod to an entire generation.

There is no word for the loss of nostalgia in the English language. Because that is what the untimely demise of K.K. feels like. A piece of happy nostalgia morphed into one that would always make us a little sad. The man who sang the iconic composition that is mandatory on every farewell is gone, and the tears on every farewell in schools and colleges will now be as much for the loss of a place, friends, as for the man who gave us a song that we could cry over.

That is what artists do. They make emotions easier. They give words, voice, lyrics, and dialogues to real-life situations for which we have the emotion, but not the right medium of expression. K.K. at his prime gave us expressions for an array of emotions, and all with a simplicity in his voice that echoed into our young minds.

We all hummed his songs. Singing ‘Ajab Si’ with friends in school during a free period, crooning to ‘Dil Kyun Yeh Mera’ sitting in front of our computer, downloading songs from a website that has since seized to exist. We hear these songs – a lot of them composed by Pritam – and it takes us to a very specific memory. Today that memory will forever be arched by the fact of his passing.

In the last decade K. K’s absence from commercial cinema only amplified the value he added to those melodies. A reminder with each new song, of how fortunate we were to be young teenagers when K.K. and Pritam were creating some incredible gems. A marriage between two artists that might be overshadowed by Pritam’s collaborations with Arijit Singh, but carrying a creative energy that in my opinion, he has never reached with another singer.

Off late the idea of our heroes – people who defined our growing years – passing away has found a dismal recurrence. It has left me – and a lot of others, I’m sure – to think of what it means to hear the passing of someone you probably never met, and yet felt a strange, intense connection with.

It feels like our childhood belonged to them too. Somehow, we feel like they were our pals. A strange bond was created in you trying to recreate Shane Warne’s bowling action, or singing ‘Pyaar Ke Pal’, teary, hugging friends who have since become just a name on our contact list. These people stayed, unlike those friends. K.K. stayed. His songs and our memories of it growing with us. Every time you heard ‘Haan Tujhe Pyaar Hai’, you went to that summer vacation where you saw Shiney Ahuja and Kangana Ranaut share the screen, the former moving his lips to the lyrics. Behind those visuals was that familiar voice of a man who kept reappearing, before suddenly vanishing as we became adults. And there we were, wishing for more of him. Maybe there could never be enough of him. He was that special. Our relationship with him that rare.

A demise like this can make you feel heavy in the heart. The same romantic song by K.K. that sounded joyous a couple of days back suddenly seems to carry a tinge of sadness. You think about the person behind the voice a lot more now. And you realise that behind all your incredible memories of sporting and artistic heroes, there are human beings. Bound to die. This is one. There will be more. It is not a very comforting thought. You close your eyes, reach out for your phone and decide to ignore the fatal reality of life. A click of a button and you hear K.K’s voice. Life is good at this moment. Simpler. Somehow.

[Read more from the author on his blog here]