A legacy we tend to ignore | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, January 17, 2003 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:32 PM, June 01, 2013

In Memorium

A legacy we tend to ignore

Centre for Asian Arts and Cultures' seminar on Jasimuddin

Our country is not accustomed to properly evaluating one's contribution: people in Bangladesh often say this out of anguish, which is not entirely untrue. With such a tone in its presentation, Centre for Asian Arts and Cultures (CAAC) recently arranged a seminar at the Public Library, on the topic 'Jashimuddin and National literature.' Presided over by poet Foyez Ahmed, the seminar presented three theses on poet Jasimuddin on occasion of his centennial anniversary (1903-2003). The theses were presented by Moinuddin Khaled, teacher of Bangla at Dhaka City College, and Salimullah Khan, Chief Editor of Rashtroshobha Patromala--a literary journal brought out by Ahmad Sofa Rashtroshobha., Dr Jamal Anowar, the poet's son, a businessperson Abdul Haque, reputed photojournalist Nasir Ali Mamun, and others were present at the seminar and discussed on Jashimuddin.Rashtroshobha Patromala brought out its third issue on this occasion, which contained the theses and other writings on the 'Polli-Kobi' and a few of his photographs.

Poet Jasimuddin himself was a man of simplicity, kindness and passion. He wrote his nature poems in a simple language about the simple people living in the villages of Bangladesh. He himself had connections with villages throughout his life, and he took his subjects for his poetry from the ordinary day-to-day lives of rural people. His characters are always throbbing with the simplicity and freshness of nature. In Jasimuddin's poems the very nature with all its elements appear as individual entity playing multipurpose roles in providing the scenes.

All Jasimuddin's images and symbols, onomatopoeic expressions are drawn from nature, which create an enchanting effect in his poetry. Due to this inevitable presence of nature and villages in his poems, also because his poems have the rustic but simple tongue of the rural people, Jashimuddin was lovingly called 'Polli-Kobi' (folk poet).

Salimullah Khan, who presented two theses titled Jashimuddin's Bangla and Jasimuddin and the National literature, however, denounced this tendency of 'tagging' Jasimuddin and thus excluding him from the mainstream literature of the country.

Salimullah argued that Jasimuddin, with all his uniqueness in style, language and subject matter of poetry, is completely 'national' in nature. In this context, he explained that by the word 'national' he meant 'connection to both nation and its people'. Salimullah quoted from various documents to show how we have undermined Jashimuddin at times. He read from the entries on 14th and 16th March 1976 in the diary of Shamsuzzaman Khan, former Director General of Bangladesh National Museum. In the entry of 16th March, Shamsuzzaman wrote about the apathetic repercussion of the young generation of poets of the time at the death of Jasimuddin. Salimullah argued that the present trend of writing in Bangla is hardly reflective of our characteristics as a nation. Rather, Jasimuddin's softened images drawn from nature, his passionate expressions are more romantic which the young poets of the time are elements to be much more fond of.

Moinuddin Khaled also presented arguments in favour of Jasimuddin's 'national' qualities. He said that practice of literature expressing compassion for the mass people, while living in the city, cannot be true.

Photojournalist Nasir Ali Mamun came with an invaluable gift for the audience and admirers of Jasimuddin. He played a record of recitation of the poem Kobor (the grave) in Jashimuddin's own voice. The record is a proof to Jasimuddin's sensitive and emotional mind. Nasir also reminisced his meeting with Jashimuddin and taking his photographs with poet Kazi Nazrul Islam at the then PG Hospital where the two stayed for sometime. Several photographs have been printed in the issue of "Rashtroshobha Patromala".

There is no denying that Jasimuddin is one of the best poets our country has produced. And it is necessary for our own interest to evaluate him rightly. The language we express ourselves with, the literature we have inherited, is enriched with the contribution of Jasimuddin along with that of many others. Jamal Anowar, the poet's son, hoped that the poet's village home could be turned into a museum so that people may visit and see things connected with the poet. He said, No government has yet taken any initiative. Can we hope that such measures will be taken soon by our government to preserve the invaluable treasures we have, before they are lost?"

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