23 Oct 2009

Kazi Nazrul Islam's Prose

The National poet of Bangladesh Kazi Nazrul Islam (1899-1976), commonly known as Vidrohi Kobi (The Rebel Poet), was no less artistic in his prose. He wrote nineteen short stories, three novels and five books of essays. Along with those we have got a good number of speeches by him that he delivered on different occasions and a total of seventy seven letters that he wrote to dissimilar people. In all these prose works Nazrul has proved his mastermind regarding their forms and contents. As his poetry does, his prose also exposes his rebellious outlook and protest against the established values and customs. His belief in the freedom of India, progressivism, liberalism, women’s liberation and communal harmony has been delineated scatteredly through all his prose works.
The articles that Nazrul considered as his essays were mostly published in the early twenties of the twentieth century. Then he was closely associated with the newspapers and periodicals like Novojug (The New Era), Dhumketu (The Comet) and Gonovani (The Voice of the People). The articles published in the editorial column are later on included and published titled Jugovani (The Voice of the Era), Rudromongol (The Violent Good) and Durdiner Jatri (The Traveler through Calamity). The book Rajbondir Jobanbondi (Deposition by a Political Prisoner) which he wrote during his prison-days against the ill treatment towards the prisoners by the authority is also considered as a book of this genre. The last book of essay by Nazrul is Dhumketu (The Comet) that was published much later after the poet’s inactivity due to illness.
Jugovani was published in October 1922. The articles of the book are: Novojug (The New Era), “Geche Desh Dukkha Nai, Abar Tora Manush H’a” (No Pain for the Lost Motherland, Let You be Human Again), Dyerer Smritistambho (The Monument for Dyer), Dhormoghot (Strike), Lokmanyo Tiloker Mrityute Bedanatur Kalikatar Drishya (The Sorrowful Calcutta at the Death of Lokmanya Tilak), Muhazirin Hatyar Janyo Dayi Ke (Who is Responsible for the Death of Muslims), Bangla Sahitye Musolman (Muslims in Bengali Literature), Chhutmarga (Prejudice about Touch), Amader Sokti Sthayi Hoi Na Keno (Why Doesn’t Our Power Last Long), Kala Admike Guli Mara (To Shoot a Black), Shyam Rakhi Na Kool Rakhi (Between the Horns of a Dilemma), Lat-Premik Ali Imam (Aali Imam ⎯ the Lat-lover), Bhab O Kaz (Idea and Action), Satyo-Shiksha (The Education of Truth), Jatiyo Shiksha (National Education), Jatiyo Bishwobidyalaya (The National University) and Jagoroni (Awakening). The last essay Jagaroni had a different title Udbodhon (Inauguration) while it was published in the periodicals. Since these were the newspaper articles, they took the touch of current affairs in them. The essays of Jugvani were compact with ideas concerning the ill-treatment, exploitation and injustice by the British Government during the non-cooperation and Khilafot movement. It was the first book by Nazrul that was banned.
The next volume of essays by Nazrul is Durdiner Jatri (The Traveler through Calamity) which was published in book form in 1926. The book comprises seven essays, all of which were published as the editorials of Dhumketu, the bi-weekly, edited by Kazi Nazrul Islam himself. The essays are: Amar Lakshmi-Chharar Dol (My Naughty Darlings), Tubri Banshir Dak (The Call of the Snake-Charmer's Flute), Mora Sobai Swadhin, Mora Sobai Raja (We All Are Free, We All Are Kings), Swagata (Welcome), Mai Bungkha Hu (I am Hungry), Pothik, Tumi Poth Haraiachho (Pedestrian, You Have Lost Your Way) and Ami Soinik (I Am a Soldier).
The third collection of essays Rudromongol (The Violent Good) was published in Calcutta in the year 1927. There were eight essays in this book among which six were published in Dhumket. Those six are the title-essay Rudromongol itself, Amar Poth, (My Way), Mohorrom (An Incident in the History of Islam), Bishovani (The Venom Message), Kshudiramer Ma (Mother of Kshudiram) and Dhumketur Poth (The Way of Dhumketu). The rest two essays Mondir O Mosjid (Temples and Mosques) and Hindu-Musolman (Hindus and Muslims) were published in Gonovani. One can easily detect the rebellious attitude of Kazi Nazrul Islam in the essays of Durdiner Jatri and Rudromongol.
When Dhumketu, the last collection of essays by Nazrul, was published in 1960 it was a compilation. It had twenty one articles: Dhumketur Adi Udoy Smriti (Remembrance of the Inauguration of Dhumketu), Dhumketur Poth (The Way of Dhumketu), Amar Dhormo (My Religion), Mohorrom (About the Muslim Occasion), Mushkil (Problems), Lanchhita (The Violated), Bishovani (The Venom Message), Nishan-Bordar (The Flag-Bearer), Tomar Pon Ki (What’s Your Resolution), Viksha Dao (Give Me Alms), Ami Soinik (I Am a Soldier), Bortoman Bishwosahityo (Contemporary World-Literature), Mai Bukha Hu ( I am Hungry), Kemal (About the Great Hero of Turkey), Bayerthotar Byatha (The Pain of Failure), Amar Sundor (My Beauty), Bhabbar Kotha (What’s to be Thought), Aj Ki Chai (What I Want Today), Nazrul Islamer Potro (A Letter from Nazrul Islam), Ekkhani Potro [Ibrahim Khan] (A Letter [Ibrahim Khan]) and Chithir Uttarey (In Response to a Letter). Among them Ekkhani Chithi is written by Principal Ibrahim Khan to Nazrul. Some of the essays of this book were borrowed from his earlier collections of essays.
Nazrul's Rajbondir Jobanbondi has a distinct characteristic unlike the above ones. This deposition was delivered by Nazrul on 16 January, 1923 when he was sentenced one year’s rigorous punishment on charge of sedition. It is known that on 7 January 1923, Sunday afternoon, he wrote this deposition while awaiting trial in the Presidency Jail, Calcutta. Rajbondir Jobanbondi was published in Dhumketu on 27 January 1923. It is worthy to mention that in the Nazrul Rochonabali (Works of Nazrul) in four volumes by the Bangla Academy, Dhaka, the essays by Kazi Nazrul Islam have been organized into two volumes ⎯ in Vol-1 Jugvani, Rajbondir Jobanbondi, Durdiner Jatri and Rudromongol and in Vol-4 Probondho (Essays). Under the last title all the names of essays previously mentioned in connection to Dhumketu have not been included as some of them were placed in his earlier collection of essays. The other essays that were not included in his essay-books are Turk Mohilar Ghomta Khola (Opening the Veil of a Turkish Women), Barsharombhe (At the Beginning of the Rains), Sotyobanee (The Massage of Truth), and Dhormo O Karmo (Religion and Duty). Except those very significant essays there are a comparatively less significant ones also. Nine reviews on books by contemporary writers have been incorporated under the title Sahityo Porichiti (Introduction to Literature).
These short articles are: Ainar Freme (‘The Frame of the Mirror’, about the story-book 'Aina' by Abul Monsur Ahmed), Haramoni (‘The Lost Games' about the folk-collection by Muhammed Mansur Uddin), Bondir Banshi (‘The Flute of the Captive’ about the poetry book by Benazir Ahmed), Dilruba ('The Sweetheart' about the poetry by Abdul Kadir), Agamibare Samapyo (‘To Be Finished Tomorrow' about a novel by Mohammad Kasem), Shekwa O Jawabe Shekwa (a review on the translation of the famous book of great poet Iqbal by Mohammad Sultan), Sanjher Maya (‘The Attraction of the Dusk' about Begum Sufia Kakal’s poetry book), Poth-Harar Poth (‘The Way of the Stray' by Sree Barada Charan Majumder) and Sujoner Gan (‘Songs of Sujan’ about the song-book by Girin Chakrabarti). In the book there are some more articles: Langol('The Plough’ first published in the special issue of its first year in Langolwhich was published on 16 December 1925. The Chief Director of the weekly was Kazi Nazrul Islam himself); Political Tubribazee (‘Volubility in Politics’ was published in ‘Langol’ in its third issue); 'Gonovani' O Muzaffar Ahmad (“The Voice of the People’ and Muzaffar Ahmad’, published in the weekly Atmoshokti or The Power of Soul in August 1926. This is actually a letter written to the editor of Atmoshakti as a reaction of an article published in the same weekly on 20 August of the same year which criticized the role of Gonovani. This has been included in Nazruler Potrovoli [Letters of Nazrul, ‘Nazrul Institute, Dhaka, 1995]); Bangaleer Bangla (Bangla of the Bengalees, published in the daily Novojug [The New Era in April 1942]); and Sur O Sruti (Melody and Hearing, an incomplete article was published in Nazrul Geeti Anwesha or 'In Search of Nazrul Songs’ edited by Sree Kalpataru Sengupta from National Book Private Agency Ltd, Calcutta. It is assumed that Kazi Nazrul Islam began to write it in 1935-36). Along with this one we have got some more articles on music and its melody in the book, which are Mia Ka Sareng, Duti Ragini, Hosenee Kanada and Neelamboree. The other essays are Amar League-Congress, Novojuger Sadhona, Sromik Proja Sworaj Somprodayer Gathon Pronali and Ekti Rupok Rachonar Khosra Porikolpona. Under the title Chanachur (Tit-bits) there are eight humorous features which had been published in the weekly Saogat. The features are: Domni Status, Punarmushiko Bhabo, Chaturbargo-Pholer Bonta, Bibaho Ain Bill, Chardik Theke Pagla Tore Gheira Dhoreche Pape, “Hai Janti Paro Na”, Fall in (Love Noi) War and Dhone Prane Mara Jai. The last item of the part Probondho is also a humorous ⎯ one Huq Saheber Hashir Golpo (Humorous stories by Huq Shaheb) which was published in the daily Novojug on 14 Jayistha 1349 B.S. In this connection it may be mentioned that the essay Nazrul Islamer Potro which was included in the book Dhumketu is placed in the Abhibhashon (Speeches) chapter here under the title Krishak Sromiker Proti Sambhashon. The three translated articles by Nazrul which have been included in the book are Jononider Proti (To Mothers), Poshur Khutinati Bisheswotwa (The Specific Characteristics of Animals) and Jibon-Bijnan (Life-Science). These articles were published in Bongiyo Musolman Sahityo Potrika (Boishakh, 1329 B.S) translated from the original of the magazine section of ‘The Englishman'.

If we look at the speeches by Kazi Nazrul Islam we will see that the number is only fourteen which does not comply with the activities of the poet’s life. Because throughout the whole twenties Nazrul was involved directly in politics till his full alienation from outer life and absorption in music around the year 1930. But from the dates of his speeches we may reach to the conclusion that we have not yet got that much speech before 1930.
Now we will try to make a possible chronological list of his speeches that he delivered in different political and literary ceremonials. It is worthy to keep in mind that none of Nazrul’s speeches was completely of partisan politics. Rather the contents were always regarding literary aspects and general socio-political issues.
The first speech by Nazrul that we have yet got in hand is Krishok Sromiker Proti Sombhashon (A Speech to the Farmers and Labourer). This is the only speech that Nazrul himself could not deliver. In Nazruler Potravoli ('Letters of Nazrul' edited by Shahabuddin Ahmed and published by Nazrul Institute, Dhaka) this speech has been included as a letter (sl no - 16). On 17 and 18 January of 1926, the convention of Mymensing District Krishok O Sromik Sommelon was arranged in the town of Mymensing. Nazrul wrote this speech on that occasion. Noted proletariat leader Hemanta Kumar Sarkar read the speech out in the convention. It was later on published in Langol(The Plough) in its 5th number, 1st volume (7 Magh, 1332 B.S). In this connection it may be mentioned that around the year 1926 Nazrul attended some more meetings and conferences with Hemanta Kumar Sarker. In Magh 1926 Nazrul participated in the conference of the Fishermen’s organization in Madaripur in June and in Dhaka and Chittagong respectively in July of the same year. In all these conferences he was accompanied by Hemanta Kumar Sarkar. But none of those speeches that Nazrul delivered is yet available.
Around these years Nazrul gradually exposed himself as a political personality and consequently began to attend different meetings. He visited Faridpur in 1925 to attend the Pradeshik Sommelon of Bongiyo Congress, and in 1926 Feni, Jessore, Khulna, Begerhat, Daulatpur, and Sylhet to attend a Congress meeting. In the same year he participated in the election of the Upper House of Indian Central Legislative Assembly from Dhaka. Moreover in February 1927 he attended the Ist yearly meeting of Muslim Sahityo Somaj (Literary Society of the Muslims) and after just one year the 2nd yearly meeting of the same organization. We know on 15 December 1929, Nazrul was accorded a national reception by the whole Bangalee nation. Before that he visited every part and corner of the country. In 1928 he traveled Sylhet, Rangpur, Rajshahi and in 1929 Thakurgaon, Sandwip, Kushtia, Bogra and the description of his travel arouses the question related to the number of his speeches. Only two speeches delivered in Chittagong are available.
In January 1929 Nazrul was honoured by the Chittagong Bulbul Society. In response to the welcome speech, he delivered the speech Protinomoskar (Speech of Thanks). In the same month he presided over the anniversary ceremony of Chittagong Education Society founded by Abdul Aziz where the title of his speech was Muslim Sonskritir Chorcha (Practice of Muslim Culture). Both Protinomoskar and Muslim Sonskskritir Chorcha were published in Bulbul in Boishakh-Ashar 1341 B.S and in Falgoon 1343 B.S. respectively.
After this in December 1929 Nazrul got the national recognition ceremonially. The organisers had to overcome many disruptions. On 15 December, the poet was taken to Albert Hall at a floral procession. At the beginning of the ceremony famous song-star Sree Umapada Bhattacharjy sang the popular song of Nazrul’s Chol Chol Chol (Quick, Quick, Quick March). The first few lines of the song are:
Quick, Quick, Quick March!
Up in the sky trumpet rolls,
Below the valley of Earth overflows,
Ye Youths of Golden Dawn!
A-head, A-head, A-head,
Quick, Quick, Quick March!
(Tr. Abdul Hakim, Poetry of Kazi Nazrul Islam in English translation, Edited by Mohammad Nurul Huda, Nazrul Institute, Dhaka, 1997, P-489).
Acharya Prafulla Chandra Ray who presided over the Reception Ceremony told in his speech:
...In modern literature we find the existence of originality only in two poets. They are Satyendranath Datta and Nazrul Islam. Nazrul is a poet, a talented original poet. His talent has not been nourished in the atmosphere of Tagore writings. So Rabindranath Tagore has recognised him as a poet. Today I am enormously glad to think that Nazrul Islam is not the poet of the Muslim, he is the poet of Bengali people.... Today people irrespective of community and religion are paying respects to Kazi Nazrul Islam....
(Tr. Karunamaya Goswami Kazi Nazrul Islam: A Biography, Nazrul Institute, Dhaka, 1996, P-107).
Nazrul delivered his Protibhashon (The Acknowledgement Speech) after S. Wazed Ali, President of Nazrul Reception Committee, read out the address of welcome.
After this national reception wherever Nazrul visited, he was given a warm welcome. In the year 1932 he attended the Bongiyo Muslim Torun Sommelon (Conference of Bengal Muslim Youths) at Sirajganj. Regarding this visit Karunnamaya Goswami writes:
...The renowned singer Abbassuddin Ahmad accompanied Nazrul to Sirajganj from Calcutta. The train carrying Nazrul Islam and Abbasuddin Ahmad reached Sirajganj railway station in the cold morning of the 5th November. A large number of people went to the station to receive the poet wherefrom he was brought to the town in a large procession....
(Karunamaya Goswami, ibid, P-122)
The title of Nazrul’s speech is Toruner Sadhona (The Practic of the Youth). A part of this speech was later on published under the title Jouvaner Gan (The Song of the Youth). In the second day’s session Nazrul only recited the poem Nari (Women) and performed some songs.
In 1936 Nazrul visited Faridpur for the second time (or, third time?). As the president of the District Muslim Students Conference he presented the speech Banglar Muslimke Banchao (Save the Bengali Muslims).
The next speech that we get by Nazrul is Jono-Sahityo (People’s Literature). In 1938 Nazrul delivered this speech in the inauguration ceremony of the Jono-Sahityo Somsod (Society for People’s Literature). In the office of the daily Krishok (The Farmer) in Calcutta Nazrul told:
...The purpose of people’s literature is to create an issue for people and portray their sentiment. Now-a-days communalism has been an acute problem for the people. Its solution also forms an aspect of people’s literature. The periodicals and their editorials could do no good. The editorial opinions sound like hailstorm of advice from the top. It cannot influence the public opinion and the popular view are not created....
(Karunamaya Goswami, ibid, P-145)
About Krishok and Jono-Sahityo Khan Mohammad Moinuddin says:
In November, 1939 [or 1938?] there appeared in Calcutta a daily named Krishok. The cause behind its appearance was to create political consciousness among the huge agrarian people. Prof.Humayun Kabir, Dr. Sirajuddin Ahmed, Kazi Mohammad Idris, Mohammad Hasan Ali were closely associated with the daily. Abul Mansoor Ahmed was the chief editor of it.
Taking Krishok at its centre, an organization named Jano-Sahityo-Somsod was founded....
In one of its addas Humayun Kabir tabled up the question ‘what is people’s literature?...
The poet said, ‘People’s literature is that which causes movement in the minds of the common folk. Its language must be very easy avoiding all ornamentation that everyone can understand that literature...? (Translation)
Jono Sahityo was published in Noya Jomana (The New World) in its Falgoon 1345 B.S (vol. 01, number 04) issue.
Nazrul’s next speech is Ustad Jamiruddin Khan. Ustad Jamiruddin Khan was a veteran maestro of the tweenties and thirties. In 1929 when Nazrul came to Calcutta he took instruction in music from this maestro of classical music. Nazrul dedicated his book of songs Bonogeeti (Songs of the Garden), first published in 1932 to Ustad Jamiruddin Khan. Ustad died on 26 November 1939. On December 10, a condolence meeting was arranged where Nazrul, the president of the meeting, delivered the speech.
Nazrul's speech Swadhinchittotar Jagoron (Awakening of the New Spirit) was delivered as the president of the Eid Reunion of Bengal Muslim Literary Society. Before the reunion, held in 1940, Nazrul’s mental distress had already started. In his speech he said:
...We will have to give up timidity, weakness and cowardice. We will live with our just claim of right, not with a begging bowl. we will bend low our head to none. We will mend shoes on streets and live our lives with labour but we will not want anyone to take pity on us. I want to see the Muslim youth of Bengal to reflect this idea of freedom in their lives. This is the teaching of Islam. I want everyone to learn this lesson. This has been the lesson of my life. I have accepted sorrows and shocks with smile but never made the degradation of my soul. I have never sacrificed the spirit of my self-independence. “Proclaim O hero, eternally high is my head” is a song, which I have sung out of this spirit. I want to see the birth of such liberated souls. This is the greatest massage of Islam.
(Tr. Karunamaya Goswami, ibid, P-148)
Shiraji is the smallest speech that Nazrul gave on the occasion of the inauguration of Siraji Public Library and Free Reading Room at 2/1 European Asylam Lane, Calcutta. On 22 March 1940 the library was opened for public at 5 in the afternoon and Nazrul attended the function as the president. Nazrul’s tribute to Syed Ismail Hussain Siraji (1880-1931), a noted writer of the Muslim Bengal, has been exposed in the speech. The speech was published in the daily Krishok on 9 Choitro, 1347 B.S.
Nazrul’s next speech is Allahar Pothe Atmosomorpon (Surrender to the Ways of God) which was published in the daily Krishok (8 Pous, 1347 B.S). This speech was delivered on 23 December, 1940 (7 Pous, 1347 B.S) at the conference room of Calcutta Muslim Institute. Nazrul spoke on the second day’s session of Calcutta Muslim Students Conference. On 16 March 1942 Nazrul addressed his last but one in Fourth Yearly Conference of Bongaon Sahityo Sobha. To understand Nazrul’s mystic philosophy this address Modhurom (Delightful) is much more significant. On request from the sub-division magistrate Mizanur Rahman, Nazrul agreed to preside over the conference. Ajharuddin Khan informs:
Nazrul did not want to attend the Bongaon Literary Conference. Then he had innumerable debtors for whom he became exhausted. On the other hand he lost every thing for the medication of his diseased wife. He had to pay small loans for which he paid high interests. To pay the small loans and for the expenses of his wife’s treatment he took four thousand taka from the solicitor of Calcutta Ashim Krsna Datta mortgaging the royalty of the records. The condition was that till the repayment of the loan he would take the royalties from the gramophone companies. Nazrul earned the highest sum of money in the thirties but in the same decade he sold his ownership of his books and borrowed an amount of tk. four thousand on interest. In respect of financial terms his life came to a closure. If the meals of one time are somehow managed, the thought of the next time expands its claws. The then subdivisional magistrate Mizanur Rahman took the chance in the poverty-stricken condition of the poet.(Translation)
(Bangla Sahitye Nazrul or Nazrul in Bangla Literature, First Supreme Edition, Calcutta 1997, P-205)
And the truth is Nazrul did not get the previously settled money. In such a sad and distressed condition Nazrul delivered his last Jodi Ar Banshi Na Baze (If the Flute Blows No More) in the next month. On 5 and 6 April 1941, the Silver Jubilee of Bongiyo Musolman Sahityo Somity was organized in the Muslim Institute, Calcutta. Nazrul addressed as the president there.
It is true, in his essays, letters and speeches Nazrul repeated his ideas and thoughts frequently but to evaluate the philosophical turns in Nazrul’s life his non-fictional prose works are no less significant. Though his non-fictional prose-works are burdened with sentiments and ornamentation, they express Nazrul’s poetic merit more without hampering the intellectual development that is very necessary for prose-pieces.
Yet, we must appreciate his prose that display Nazrul’s mental bent, his theories of literature and his thoughts regarding socio-political condition of the country.

Writer: Subrata Kumar Das

1 comment:

  1. he book Rajbondir Jobanbondi is one of the best novel by Nazrul I have read. It is not only a prose but also a epic poem, a voice of universal people, a commitment of a social communicator, an art of Bengali literature in his genre.