Shahabuddin continued his story, with a lot of zeal and a world of love that he has for Bangabandhu.
In one corner of the studio, he sat, narrating from memory.
The studio itself is a beautiful one, with iconic artworks on walls and canvases and a table crowded with paintbrushes and palettes.
But the man was not in his studio, I felt. He had gone back to the early ’70s, to Bangabandhu.
He continued passionately, “I went to meet him, with a large painting of mine, concealed in a white cloth. Everyone there was astounded by its size. But when anyone asked, I initially said it was by some other artist; I felt shy.”
Afterwards Bangabandhu too, showed a lot of enthusiasm: “Such a large painting! Open it!”
The artwork, which depicted Mujib as a prisoner, impressed him.
“At least this much I can understand that our children can create such amazing works of art! I will display it. Because so many foreigners come to my place. They will appreciate it. I will tell them that our children can fight for freedom, and they can also create works of art,” the painter narrated Bangabandhu’s response in his own words, in a shaky, excited voice, while staring blankly with eccentric eyes, as if, by some means, a supernatural portal had opened up in his studio through which he could see that past event happening in front of him.
Shahabuddin is not just a painter. He is a master storyteller; painting is merely the medium he chose, I reckon.
The tucked out red shirt with a gamcha wrapped around the waist, the ruffled hair, the facial expressions which bring forth every emotion he feels, the animated way in which he speaks, the purest amicable smile with which he radiates warmth — all make him stand out of the crowd and force the listener to sit at the edge of the chair, gulping in his many stories.
He continued, reliving his Bangabandhu-and-I moments: “He was such a busy man. He need not bother about my painting. But he did.”