Through his spell with words, Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay, one of the most popular writers of Bangladesh and West Bengal , India, captivated his readers and fans who gathered at a bookshop in Chittagong city on Saturday evening, to listen to their favourite writer.
Baatighar, a mega bookshop located at city's Jamal Khan Road, organised the programme titled “Amar Jibon Amar Rochona: Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay” to facilitate an interaction between the writer and his readers.
Literature afcionados in the port city on the occasion milled around the bookshop which was jam-packed by 7pm. Many people had to remain outside and content themselves to listen to the writer's speech relayed to them on a screen through a multimedia projector.
“We know how the people of Bangladesh are passionate about literature,” Shirshendu began, “When I and Sunil (Sunil Gangopadhay) used to talk about the future of Bangla language in West Bengal worriedly, we took a sigh of relief thinking that Bangladesh would keep alive this language, if it faced any crisis of existence.”
“We see signboards written in Bangla in different shops in USA. Bangla has now become a prestigious language due to Bangladesh,” he said, adding, “I was born in Bangladesh and was compelled to leave the country in my childhood due to the political division of the Indian subcontinent, which was very painful for me.”
“I still remember Mymensingh, my birthplace, the river of my village,” he said, adding that he faced a crisis of identity in his childhood, and once decided to commit suicide as he was depressed about life.
Shirshendu said he started serious writing from 1958. “I started to send stories to Desh Patrika but frustratingly, my first two stories were not published. When I sent the third one, I decided to quit writing if it was rejected,” he said, “But it was published at last.”
Referring to his early novel “Ghunpoka”, Shirshendu said when the novel was published, it failed to attract readers. Even the critics were not interested to comment on it he said. “I wanted the novel to be talked about. Be it praise or criticism, I just wanted it to be talked about; it was frustrating,” he said, adding, “Now, after 40-50 years of its first publication, new editions of this novel are being published every year. I think I could not communicate with the readers at that time; present day readers can understand its theme and so the novel has gained popularity after 40 years,” he said.
The opposite happened with the novel “Durbin”, said the writer. “I thought the novel would not be able to attract readers because of its unconventional form, but it gained popularity,” he said, adding, “I always write from my heart and never write for popularity or money; all those things came to me slowly, and I am grateful to my readers for that.”
Shirshendu also responded to questions from his readers, in his typical witty style.
In reply to a question from the audience on why he did not write too many tragic novels, the writer said the Bangalis love to cry, adding, “Although it is easy to gain popularity with tragedies, I prefer happy endings in my novels. I don't want people crying, as they face enough crises in their personal lives.”
Shirshendu said he had shared a close friendship with late Humayun Ahmed. “We had a relationship of mutual love and respect,” he said.