A magician of words for all ages
Though born in Kolkata and studied at St Xavier's College there, the foundation of one of Bengal's most popular writers Buddhadeb Guha's creative mind was shaped by his extensive journey through the swathes and rivers of Rangpur, Jaipurhat and Barisal districts.
It was a fascinating journey that brought Guha so close to nature. He heard the music in the ripples of rivers and ponds, the rustle of the swaying leaves of trees and chirping of birds across Bengal. One is reminded of Rabindranath Tagore's immortal words "phirey chal maatir taaney."
Guha's travel through Bengal countryside come out so vividly in his "Rivu" series of books some of which are dedicated to friends from his youth. It was a chapter in the 85-year-old author's life that left an indelible imprint on his evolution as a novelist and gave him a distinct place in contemporary Bangla literature.
Rivers and forests were a recurrent theme in Guha's works and his writings on travel in Bengal are considered among some of the most highly readable stuff. It also gave his novels and short stories a dreamy and romantic layer.
Buddhadeb Guha's love for nature makes him count among a handful of post-Tagore Bangla writers who have carved a niche for themselves in a way reminiscent of Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay. But the approaches to nature by Bibhutibhushan and Guha are starkly different. While there is more of mysticism and metaphysical in Bibhutibhushan's eyes to nature, Guha's handling of the subject sees him virtually looking at nature and women as interchangeable. For Guha, nature and women cannot be segregated.
Not many Bangla writers had the same felicity as Guha to straddle seamlessly between the three genres of writings--for children, "young adults" and for all others. He was the creator of Rijuda and his sidekick Rudra who roam the jungles mostly in eastern part of Bengal.
It would be an incomplete assessment to view Guha as a writer only of rural life. He was equally at home in portraying life, relationships and emotions in suave urban settings. The writer's books like "Ektu Ushnotar Jonno" and "Babli" appealed to the yearnings of teenaged boys and girls for love as they prepared to step into the twenties of their life. There was a time when these two books were a craze with the readers of Bengali novels.
Since his first book "Jangal Mahal," Guha reeled off a series of works like "Madhukari," a seminal work in Bengali fiction, Kojagar, Ababahika, Changhare Gaan and Holud Basanta which fetched him Ananda Puroskar in 1976. Guha was far from being content with just wielding the pen. He was an accomplished classical singer and a fairly good painter, a trait not often seen in writers.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday expressed profound shock and sorrow at the death of noted writer.
In a statement, she prayed for salvation of the departed soul and conveyed deep sympathy to the bereaved family of Buddhadeb Guha.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has expressed deep grief over the passing away of Buddhadeb Guha and said it was a "big loss" to the literary world . In a tweet, Modi said "Buddhadeb Guha's writings were multifaceted and displayed great sensitivity to the environment. His works were enjoyed across generations, particularly among youngsters. His passing away is a big loss to the literary world. Condolences to his family and admirers. Om Shanti."