Golam Kobir, brother of Ahsan Habib, holding the poet's picture. Photo: Star
Ahsan Habib is an eminent poet of Bangladesh and his writings are valuable assets of Bangla Literature. Sadly, his contribution is slowly fading away as no steps have been taken in his own district to keep him alive for future generations.
In 2003, to mark his birthplace around six kilometers away from Pirojpur district headquarter, a memorial was built at the village entrance at Sankarpasha by the District Council. But it has remained neglected there. Damaged parts of the memorial have not been tended to. On the other hand, a kilometer long street behind Pirojpur Stadium has been named after him and a part of Pirojpur Public Library has been named Ahsan Habib Corner. But the shelf here is full of many writer's books. No activities are visible in Pirojpur as remembrances to the the poet. No events were organized in Pirojpur to mark his birth and death anniversaries, which are on 2 January and 10 July respectively. Though numerous visitors visit the poet's house from different parts of the country, they find nothing substantial there. “Although my bother played an important role in Bangla Literature, no memorable activities are seen in Pirojpur from the authorities to keep his memory alive,” said Md Golam Kabir, 78, the younger brother of the poet, who lives at Sankarpasha village in Pirojpur. “Students and literary lovers from different parts of the country come to our house and return frustrated, since there is nothing here related with the poet,” he added, saying that visitors write their opinion sometimes in a diary kept by the poet's daughter.
He feels that the government should take steps to keep his brother's memory alive for the next generation.
Literature lovers and cultural activists are also frustrated at the negligence towards the poet. “Ahsan Habib is our pride. Something must be done to save the poet's memory,” said Kazi Monirul Islam, a villager of the Pirojpur. “Ahsan Habib is one of the eminent poets of the country. I think the Public Library should be named after him in the district town where his biography and works will be available,” said Md. Abubaker Siddique, Senior Lecturer of Bangla at Aftabuddin College in Pirojpur. “Zila Shilpakala Academy or a big road could be named after the poet,” he suggests. “Research on his works should be conducted,” said Jagat Priya Das Bishu, a cultural activist in Pirojpur. “In this case, students at different institution in the district must be encouraged,” he added. He also mentioned that discussion meetings and competitions on his work may be arranged to mark his birthday or death anniversary. He also alleged that the poet's family members are at a distance with Pirojpur and they hardly come to Pirojpur. During his life, Ahsan Habib did not visit Pirojpur much either.
The poetic genius of Ahsan Habib was evident from his childhood. On his way to school from home, he would compose poems, said his village people. His first poem 'Mayer Kabar Pare Kishor' was published in the school magazine in 1934 when he was student of class ten. Next, his poems were published in various journals and magazines. 'Ratri Sheshe', his first poetry, was published in 1947. After passing the matriculation examination in 1935 from Pirojpur Government School, he got admitted at the Brojo Mohan (BM) College in Barisal. Facing financial crisis, he could not complete his course there. Next, he went to Kolkata in 1937 in search of employment. He struggled with life and eventually joined the 'Takbir' as an Assistant Editor for a salary of Tk. 17.
He next worked in the Bulbul (1937-38) and the Saogat (1939-1943). From 1943 to 1948 he also worked as a staff artiste at the Kolkata centre of All India Radio. After the partition of India in 1947 from Pakistan, he returned to Dhaka and got married. His contribution as a journalist is praiseworthy. As a journalist he worked in the Daily Azad, Monthly Mohammadi, Weekly Probaho and some other newspapers.
He also worked as the production adviser of Franklin Publications from 1957 to 1964. From 1964 to 1985 he worked at the Dainik Pakistan, and then the Dainik Bangla. His publications include Ratri Sheshe (1948), Chhaya Horin (1962), Shara Dupur (1964), Ashai Boshoti (1974), Megh Bole Choitrey Jabo (1976), Duhate Dui Adim Pathar (1980), Premer Kabita (1981) and Bidirno Dorpone Mukh (1985). His poems reflect the reality of social life of his time focusing on the middle class people. He also wrote for the children. His creations for the children are Josna Rater Golpo, Bristi Pare Tapur Tupur (1977), Chutir Din Dupure (1978), Relgari Jhomajhome, Jotsona Rater Golpo, Choto Mama the Great, Pakhira Firea Ashea, Rotnodip (a sort translation of Treasure Island), Hajibaba, Probal Dipe Obhijan (a sort translation of Coral Island). His also wrote a few novels: Aronney Neelima (1960) and Ranee Khaler Shanko (1965).
Ahsan Habib was the eldest among five brothers and four sisters. He has two sons and two daughters. One of his daughters died few years back. Ahsan Habib received several awards including UNESCO Literary Prize (1960-61), Bangla Academy Award (1961), Adamjee Literary Prize (1964), Nasiruddin Gold Medal (1977), Ekushey Padak (1978), Abul Mansur Ahmed Memorial Prize (1980) and Abul Kalam Memorial Prize (1984).