On 7th December 2016, flight PK-661 flying from Chitral to Islamabad crashed near Abbottabad, killing 48 people and leaving the nation in a state of shock and confusion. Among the casualties was Junaid Jamshed – the man who in his early days won the hearts of millions of Pakistanis through his music and later through his devotion to Islam. Thousands of people attended his funeral including senior armed forces personnel, politicians, celebrities and sportsmen. Whether you preferred the vocalist of Vital Signs or the religious scholar, Junaid Jamshed touched your heart in some way or the other.
While the nation felt a huge loss following the death of Junaid, his family was left shattered at the loss of a father and a husband. A year after his death, we talk to his eldest son Taimur Junaid about how the last year has been for him, and how he’s keeping his father’s memory alive.
“I have to show a brave face every time I wake up,” Taimur shared, commenting on coping with his father’s death. “I haven’t really truly recovered from the whole incident but life has to go on… It’s almost like every day I put a mask on, I go out, and try to move on.”
To mark a year since the tragic plane crash, Taimur is visiting a team in Mansehra that was the first to arrive at the site of the crash.
“It will be very tough. I am dreading going to Mansehra, I am dreading 7th December. For the past few weeks, I’ve just been talking about dad and going to interviews, so all the memories have been coming back to me. I’m trying my best not to break down anywhere.”
Nevertheless, Taimur is determined to carry his father’s legacy forward, as he explained, “I don’t want the impact of all his hard work to end.” At the time of his death however, Taimur’s mind was in a state of shock and he didn’t really have a plan.
A month or two after his father’s death, he went to The Footpath School near Abdullah Shah Ghazi to start an initiative with Jafaria Disaster Cell (JDC) and distribute stationery to the children there. After visiting several schools and universities, Taimur decided to work on his vocals. After much practice, he wrote a reply to his father’s naat, ‘Muhammad ka Roza’, which was launched in Ramazan.
“I used to think that what my dad did was very easy, as beyaan was second nature to him and he did it on a daily basis, but when I tried to fit into his shoes, I realised there was no way I could even come 0.0001% close to the man that he was,” he said about participating in Ramazan transmissions. “His experience was more than my age, and this wasn’t just an interest for him – it was his passion.”
Being the eldest son, Taimur has had to step up to take care of his family after the passing of Junaid – a role that his father had been preparing him for, over the last few years. Taimur reveals that his father had explained to him, “Listen, I’m always away on tableegh or on tour, so you’re basically the head of the family. So, I want you to be responsible at home.” From that moment (2 years ago), Taimur’s life changed drastically, as if “I’ve pressed the fast forward button on my life,” he explained.
In 2015, Junaid and Taimur discussed a new business venture – Jazaa Foods (his father’s last venture), which was to become Taimur’s responsibility. Following this, Taimur got married and performed Hajj with his family before Junaid Jamshed passed away. Shortly after the death of his father, Taimur himself became a father to a beautiful girl, Nafeesa, who shares the same captivating, coloured eyes as her late-grandfather. Thus, the last 2 years “have been a rollercoaster, emotionally and physically,” revealed Taimur.
“People say that time heals all wounds, but it has just become worse, at least for me. When my daughter Nafeesa was born, I kept thinking that if dad was here, he would’ve met his first grandchild.”
With so many changes taking place in his life simultaneously, Taimur wishes he had learnt more from his father.
“I didn’t learn enough from him. I regret this every day of my life. I wish I had learned more from him… I would’ve loved to learn about his experience with music and composition. I would’ve loved for him to give me tips on what would suit my voice more, because he was a composer, not just a vocalist. I’d also want tips on being a father,” said Taimur.
His advice to his father’s fans is to adopt the same sincerity he had in his actions.
“I’ve never met anyone who said that dad spoke to them out of anger or that he spoke ill of anyone,” revealed Taimur.
Taimur narrated an incident that reflects his father’s character.
“There’s a driver from ARY who was crying after the death of my father because of one interaction he had with him.”
The driver had arrived to pick up Junaid for an early morning shoot. Upon noticing that the driver looked tired, Junaid asked if he had slept and had breakfast. It turned out that the man had worked a double shift. So, Junaid had breakfast with him and then drove to the studio himself.
“As they approached the studio, dad stopped the car and switched seats with the driver so that the management wouldn’t find out that he had driven there himself, and the man’s job wouldn’t be in jeopardy.”
Regarding his father’s transition from singer to preacher, Taimur told us about the worries that plagued his father’s mind before he left Vital Signs to lead a pious life. “His first thought was that he sings really well, so after his transition, he won’t be able to sing. The second was that he gets to go on stage and have so many people listen to him – he won’t have that crowd of listeners anymore, and thirdly, he may lose all his fame after the transition.”
Taimur recounts his father as saying that after his transition, “He got to use his voice to praise Allah, crowds of people still listened to him, and lastly, his fame stayed and with it, came respect.”
“Honestly, he was so passionate about music. He was crazy about music. He controlled his nafs and gave it up all for Allah.”
Despite the pain Taimur endures every time he recounts memories of his father, his tongue seems to betray him as he endlessly narrated incidents to us from his father’s life, with love and admiration dripping from every word he uttered.
“I know I can’t become him, but I am taking his teachings and implementing them in my life, and I am doing whatever work I can do to take his legacy forward,” Taimur concluded.