I am very lucky that I have many girlfriends, however in recent times I have found myself becoming lonely even in the presence of favorite childhood buddies. They show me their attainments, sprawling houses, modern cars, timeshare by the sea in Florida or wherever have you, but with few having non–materialistic, creative and artistic pursuits. With my friend Progga Laboni, it is an exception, when I say, “What are you doing?” She will answer back, “Boshey achi pothocheye phaguner o gan geye.” I feel gratified, even having one poetic friend is worth living for.
From her very childhood Progga Laboni charmed everyone with her poetic renditions and as a rare case she took up 'recitation' as a profession, not only lending her voice for poetry recitation but being committed as a recitation trainer. She hosted classes at home, she started a special and unique program on BTV as early as 1986 (Chonddobritto), where she emphasized on poems and recitation and became a role model, household name. Other noted programs on BTV are Ghore Baire (ladies exclusive show) and Rojonigondha. She hosted dignitaries from home and abroad and everyone looked forward to her presentations as her oratory skills are remarkable and are studded with quotes from Tagore, Nazrul and other stalwarts and appeared with ease in her speech. More recently, she hosted a program for the elderly, titled Ogrojo for NTV for over a decade portraying the beauty of elderly people and their works during their hay days.
Born with such inherent qualities Progga appeared in a show called Bangla Vision Café, where she interviewed literary luminaries of Bangladesh and West Bengal, India and I know from my personal experience that she has read most of their works. Her subject of choice has been English Literature in which she earned a Masters from Dhaka University and taught in Holy Cross College for a couple of years (1988), then part-time in several universities including IUB, NSU, Daffodil, Santo Mariam, East West and Eastern University and gave training to the staff at Biman and other organizations. Later, she earned another Masters in Economics and completed her MBA.
Her creativity knows no bounds, while raising four children, she published two books, first one of Bangla poems titled Tumi, the cover was designed by the famous artist Rafiqun Nobi. The second publication was titled Shostika, a book of dramas. Some of her stories were aired as dramas in Channel I, where she directed twelve plays in all. For the Muktijuddho Jadughor (War Museum) she published a compact disc (CD) of recitation titled Boijoyonti (along with Dolly Zahur, Kazi Arif and Gulam Mustafa) and attended many stage programs in Kolkata where her recitations were much lauded. From NIMCO, she published 12 CDs on Bangla pronunciation. She was a respected judge for a recitation competition on Channel I. She dramatized the first BTV package drama titled Cha, originally written by Muhammad Zafar Iqbal, produced by channel I. This was aired by BTV on 14 December, marking the martyred intellectual day.
One fine morning she was whisked off by Director Enamul Huq Nirjhor to act in a movie titled Aha, I watched it later and her acting was remarkably natural as the aunt of the protagonist. She did another movie titled Kranti by Director Mirza Hasan.
The list continues, but this write up is not about the list. While most people pursue their dreams aiming high in their careers, earning loads of money in the process, being comfortable in their finances, Progga's pursuit has been different. She laments not knowing all poems from Shonchoyita by heart, let's hope that the fire keeps burning, cause there can be no other Progga Laboni.