'Aaye khuku aaye . . .'

Mohsena Reza Shopna

Barkat, Salam, Jabbar, Shafiq and others --- 'tumi ki keboli chobi, shudhu potey likha'. The 'idhar ayo' was replaced by the sweetest call of a loveable father by 'aaye khuku aaye' and this was possible only because some Homo-Sapiens gave away their most prized possession for the cause of establishing the right to think and talk in their own language. The years following the sacrifice of their precious lives defines the fact that the efforts to establish Bangla as a rich language, at home and abroad, shine bright in their track record and the progress in our culture due to it is largely positive.

The hard-hitting journey began in 1952 and ended amid a laudable success. Unbounded cheers for the language martyrs who traded off their lives for the mass people of Bangladesh. The events that followed claimed a heavy toll of lives but none of it did went in vain. We loathe the invasion of any foreign language and any sign of its rearing its ugly head ever again. Sometimes it hurts to see that the menace has not been fully eliminated. People have this bent of reading foreign books more than Bangla. We have to take clear initiatives to establish our language and culture in all walks of life. We have to hold on to the fast disappearing sweet addresses like 'Bhabi, Bubu, Baba' which I believe no language can ever offer!

The saddest part is that western culture is marching in rapidly in its full arrogance, blending in with our culture with a bang of confusion! People do not like calling others 'Bhabi' or 'Apa' and feel elevated from the rest of society, forgetting that Bangla has given them the opportunity to specify the exact relationship, you see, shining apart from the rest! Friendship with all and malice towards none. When it comes to bartering our hard earned right to exercise Bangla in all spheres of life there should not be any compromising attitude, starting from the individual to the government level. We should attach the highest priority to this attempt to take sincere steps and make major plans in carrying it out. A massive media campaign is instrumental in expanding the demand for Bangla dramas, music, costumes, cuisine, etc. There is now a wide platform for talented and young video makers who upload their self-produced video stories.

The struggle to interact in one's own language became a struggle of the world conscience and Ekushey February was recognized as International Mother Language Day. This became the background of the human price, a nation paid for its freedom and to write 'Bangladesh' in bold letters. These two episodes cannot be separated from each other. If today we listen to Sabina Yasmin's 'Shob kota janala'or Ferdausi Rahman, Runa Laila, Shehnaz Rehmatullah or upcoming artists like Parveen Sultana, if today we listen to Sachin Dev and Mira Dev Burmans' 'Bangladesher dhol', enjoy Salil Chowdury or Hemant Mukhopadhay and hear the songs of Mahmudunnabi with deep emotion, it is because of those language martyrs who laid down their lives. Now the world knows that besides the Spanish “Que”, the French “Quoi” and Italian “Cosa”, there is the Bangla “Ki”, the most fundamental question in human life. Whenever the Bangalis speak, people say their words come out in rhyme and melody which is undeniably true. Had not Bangla been established as the national language, Murshidi, Marfati, Jari, Shari, Bhatiyali, Hason, Lalon and such songs would never have flourished. Bangladesh and Bangla cannot be conceived devoid of the music in the language which runs through the veins of the people the same way as waterways run through a country. The historic pictures evoke the memories of events and unfold them. We believe these images will stand out as one of the hallmarks in the history of the nation.

There are other forms and genres which have originated in specific districts and are very much alive within their locale. Today we enjoy Haider Hossain's 'Ami faisha gesi mainkar chipay' or Rosina's 'ai aannere kotobar koisi ai ainner kase zaitanno'. Henceforth they were shy to speak in their own dialect publicly but now not only music but their dramas have become very popular and are enjoyed by all.

The Ekushey Boi Mela has now become a national event. People from neighbouring countries are coming to join the festival. You feel young mingling with budding novelists which Ekushey has given birth to. This year the area has been extended beyond the Bangla academy with 470 stalls grouped under various headings.

'Dil cheez kya hai, aap meri jaan lijiye, bas ek bar mera kaha maan lijiye' was Greek to many before Ekushey gave them 'Shuno shuno kothati shuno, kachhe esho priyo tomo bole'. We pray that the spirit of Ekushey be reignited each year with extra vigour and revitalize the hearts of the young once again as it did in 1952.

'Barkat, Salam er shonitey rokteem Banglar ae akaash, shey shonit jabena go bifoley..'

Mohsena Reza Shopna is a critic and Past President, Inner Wheel Club of Dhaka North.

© thedailystar.net, 2010. All Rights Reserved