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3 April, 2020 00:00 00 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 2 April, 2020 11:52:01 PM
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Bangabandhu and the contemporary writers

Bangabandhu's affection for the Bangla language, society, and culture was deep
Hasan Al-Mahmud
Bangabandhu and the 
contemporary writers

Bangabandhu became the greatest Bengali of all time by the BBC poll in 2004. Besides his remarkable political career, he also had affection for literature—which was newly revealed after reading his books: “Karagarer Rojnamcha” (Prison Diaries), and “Oshomapto Attojiboni” (Unfinished Memoirs).

From 1948 to 1971, he was captured several times and put into jail. Even his artistic consciousness was able to make a field of literature besides the hot politics outside the gate. The affection for literature came out spontaneously at the same time. Sheikh Mujib grew up in a liberal environment, with mindful family values, arts, literature, and culture—which were reflected in his memories, later put into these books.

When the political situation was hostile, he still read literature with other books in jail. His love and affection for Bangla language, literature, and culture made him stronger even when he was in the Pakistani prison. In "Karagarer Rojnamcha", he wrote how his soul was trembling, and how it was difficult to bear. He used to find books whenever he was jailed.

Sheikh Mujib's reading habit was established from his early age, as he mentioned in "Karagarer Rojnamcha" that his father used to keep newspapers, like Ananda Bazar, Basumati, Azad, Masik Mohammadi, and Saugat at home; and he used to read all those. This habit made him a reader of not only political stories, but also a reader of literature.

While Sheikh Mujib was reading Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay’s book "Adharer Rup (The Form of Darkness)" in the jail, I can guess a bit how he was feeling at that time as he was going through prison days in the apparent darkness—that surrounded his life and each of the lesson was probably very deep and practical for him.

His care about Bangla literature comes out when we find that he used lines from poems of Rabindranath and Nazrul frequently in many of his speeches. Bangabandhu used to believe that Rabindranath was exceptionally brilliant. Whenever he missed his parents in jail, he read the poem “Bipode More Rokkha Koro (Protect me in Danger)”. A council session of the Awami League was inaugurated in Dhaka with the song "Amar Sonar Bangla (My Golden Bangla)'', the song that he wanted to make the national anthem of independent Bangladesh—which he planned for a long time.

For Kazi Nazrul Islam, he brought out an incident from his memory in the book. He attended a conference where some educationists like Kazi Nazrul Islam, Humayun Kabir, Ibrahim Khan were invited. When the program was canceled, they enjoyed the songs of Nazrul in the residence of Humayun Kabir. Once, he was traveling to Karachi with Hossein Shahid Suhrawardy. On the way, he recited some poems of Nazrul: “Ke Tomay Bole Dakat Bondhu (Who Tells You Robbery Friend)”, “Nari (Woman)”, “Sammoy (Equivalent)” and some others.

Probably this passion led Bangabandhu to bring Nazrul to Bangladesh after independence. Bangabandhu made all arrangements to bring poet Nazrul to Dhaka on his 73rd birthday. At that time, a magnificent scene was created between the poet and the Bangabandhu. The reconciliation of these two iconic rebels in Bengal created a place as a golden chapter of history. Bangabandhu put Nazrul in deep respect and honored him with the status of "National Poet".

He read his friend Shahidullah Kaiser's “Songsoptok - 1965” in jail. He was so upset to write about the death of writer-journalist Tofazzal Hossain Manik Miah (1969) and linguist Muhammad Abdul Hai (1969) to his daughter Sheikh Hasina—who was in Italy at that time. In “Karagarer Rojnamcha”, he showed his fondness for the writing of Manik Miah’s “Rajnoitik Moncho (The Political Stage)”. And, in “Oshomapto Attojiboni”, he mentioned how nicely Manik Miah used to write.

Bangabandhu's affection for the Bangla language, society, and culture was deep. The river, water, food, songs, and the beauty of this country fascinated him. He became a big fan of Abbasuddin when he had the unique experience of listening to him on a visit to Nabinagar in Brahmanbaria. Remembering that Bhatiali song in Abbasuddin's voice, he wrote in "Oshomapto Attojiboni" that one side of his life would have been incomplete if he wouldn’t enjoy this moment in the river.

In Bangabandhu's memory, many other writers reflected, such as Abul Hashim, Mohammad Nasiruddin, Habibullah Bahar, Mujibur Rahman Khan, Maulana Akram Khan, Abul Mansur Ahmed, Humayun Kabir, Ibrahim Khan, Kazi Mohammad Idris, Mahmood Nurul Huda, Mohammad Modabbeer, Kamruddin Ahmed, Muhammad Abdul Hai, Munir Chowdhury, Khandaker Mohammad Elias, Ranesh Dasgupta, Satyen Sen, Sharatchandra, Ajit Kumar Guha, Al-Berunir, Manoj Basu, and many others.

Bangabandhu's memoir has become enlightened with poets and writers of different countries, languages, and literary contexts. He also read the novel “Therese Raquin'' by French writer Emile Zola. In the hospitality of lawyer Khwaja Abdur Rahim, Sheikh Mujib's stay in Javed Manjil—which had a lot of memories of poet Iqbal, was a great memory. Bangabandhu's meeting with poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz, along with his support for Bangla was highly praised in “Oshomapto Attojiboni''. Here it was also written about the meeting of Turkish poet Nazim Hikmat when he traveled to China, the Russian author Asimov, and American author Henry David Thor who wrote “Disobedience (1849)”. In this way, Sheikh Mujib had always met writers of that era. He transformed the dream of their independence into creating his Bangladesh.

Bangabandhu expressed his views on art and literature this way, “The engineers of humanity are litterateurs, artists, educators, intellectuals and cultural workers of the country. People are the source of all literature and art. There can never be honest literature, or an advanced art being isolated from the people.” (Dainik Bangla, February 15, 1974).

A long time from today, maybe a father will tell his child about a boy who was born in our country—who had the fortitude, the strength, as well as the weaknesses. But the man had a heart; what knew to love. The thing that shines brightly in the sunlight was the courage of the man. And the light that streams in the moonlight, like the affection of a mother—that affirms peace and warmth in our hearts, was his love. Do you know his name? His name is Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. This is how Ahmed Sofa wrote about Bangabandhu. This was the father of the Bengali nation, whose love for literature and writers is really exceptional beauty in the history of Bangladesh.

The writer was a Fulbright TEA Fellow, Montana State University, USA. He writes on contemporary issues,

education, and literature.

 

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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