For book lovers, young scholars and researchers of Kazi Nazrul Islam -- our local libraries, online platforms and bookstores leave much to be desired for. With a poor archiving system in the country -- both online and off -- the desire to know more about the National Poet dies even before a young researcher takes the first step. There are many books written on Nazrul, of which several are out of circulation, or simply not available at the roadside bookstore. The limited number of libraries in the country do not offer much either.
A visit to the offices of the renowned music researcher and a small chat with the Nazrul exponent Dr Karunamaya Goswami about the great poet creates several avenues for young researchers at the beginner stage. Winner of the Bangla Academy Literature Award '08 and other awards and titles, Dr Goswami patiently lists authors and books available in Bangladesh.
"There is so much to learn about Kazi Nazrul Islam -- his political views, songs, his letters, and his life -- and so much more," summarises Dr Goswami. "It may appear to be a difficult journey for a beginner, but one must begin somewhere. Start the journey with his life -- his birth, how he educated himself, going to war, returning and settling down in Calcutta, political activities, joining the government company, film music, Calcutta radio, writing a large number of songs, composing music, training singers, recording and then all of a sudden, all this coming to an end in August 1942. The first book I can refer to is my own book, 'Kazi Nazrul Islam -- a Biography' a 250-paged book published by Nazrul Institute."
According to Dr Goswami, the next step would be to read about Nazrul's songs, poetry, and prose -- books that provide stories from behind the scenes. Dr Goswami himself has written books in both English and Bangla -- 'Aspect of Nazrul songs,' 'Introducing Kazi Nazrul Islam,' 'Bangla Kabbyo Geetir Dharay Kazi Nazrul Islamer Sthaan,' 'Nazrul Geeti Proshongo,' 'Nazrul Shongeet -- Jonopriotaar Shorup Shondhan.' "I am currently planning to write a big book on Nazrul covering all the aspects of his creativity," he adds. Also the author of the popular 'Shongeet Kosh,' Dr Goswami's books on Nazrul can surely structure a university major on Nazrul if ever taken into consideration by the authorities!
"There are also other books that one can read or refer to," he adds. "First and foremost, one needs to purchase 'The Collected Works of Nazrul' -- published by Bangla Academy." He also mentions authors whose books are excellent resources for young researchers -- Rafiqul Islam, Abul Kadir, Kabir Chowdhury, Abdul Mannan Syed, Shahabuddin Ahmed. In addition, there are writers from West Bengal -- Sushil Kumar Gupta, Azharuddin Khan, Badhon Sen Gupta and many others.
Dr Goswami has promised to give a thought to the creation of a team that would help him recreate his books and knowledge through an online blog or a website.
"Today there are so many opportunities to learn about Kazi Nazrul Islam," says Dr Goswami. "There are books available on the poet, institutions and even scholars. One can simply make an appointment with a scholar, if nothing else, speak to him and learn. During my time, things were harder. We worked hard to learn. Which is why, my advice to the young researchers would be to take advantage of the opportunities around!"
One should never stop learning and researching, says Dr Karunamaya Goswami. "We need to do so for the sake of our country, for knowledge and for mankind," he adds. "As Rabindranath Tagore would say, "Nutrition is one, food habits are many." Similarly, knowledge is one, expressions are many."