Ekushey February

Farida Shaikh

Photo: Amirul Rajiv

February, the Bangla month of Falgun, is our precious month. It is our time of reckoning---recollecting the past and calculating the future; to renew our pledge for Bangla Bhasha, for it is the mark of individual identification, the gist of our nationhood, our national icon since 1952.

Ekushey Boi Mela is one sure way of celebrating the Mohan Ekushay, Bangla Language movement 1952. To mark the Shaheed Dibash in 1972 Muktodhara publishing house organized a small book sale centre within the premises of Bangla Academy. The national academy for promoting Bangla language was established on 3 December 1955.This building known as Burdwan House was once a part of Dhaka University; to-day has the view of Suhrawardy Udyan.

Bangla Academy has played a significant role in development and modernization of Bangla, and took over the responsibility of organizing the Ekushey Boi Mela together with literary and cultural events. To-day this month longevents, is a national festival reflecting the spirit of modern Bengali nation.

This is the cherished month for the book lovers, book worms who browse through books quite oblivion of time, well- known and rising writers who sign and read books for their readers. 'Ekushey Boi Mela' in Dhaka is participated by, nearly more than three hundred, big and small publishing houses of the country. Publishers with 25 and more books qualify for the entry. They are specially protected as no foreign books are allowed, though publication under license and piracy is becoming an acceptable way of book distribution.

This year nearly 3000 new book titles with 25 % discount price are ready for the readers. Book sale last year amounted to more than Tk. 200 million.

It is also celebration of International Mother Language Day. With the UNESCO announcement 1999, this day since then is observed world wide to promote awareness of linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism.

Our Language Martyr Day of 21 February 1952 has earned this rightful recognition and due honor for the Martyrs' sacrifice towards the Mother tongue of the people. It is a glorious occasion that raises our consciousness to the realization that every Mother tongue is most loved by its own people. Many such languages, due to suppression are to-day dying out fast.

It is our collective responsibility to secure this precious heritage. The poetry recitation was a call to this combined responsibility; towards humanness, and to end immediately this deadly game.

Ami Tomay Bhalobashi was a symphony of multilingual poetry recitation, against war; Nirmalendro Goon's Juddho announced the meaning of war and the theme of the evening's recitation program: '… Juddo manae shotru shotru klela/…juddo manae amar prothi tomar aubohela…' followed by the eloquent artist, Dahlia Ahmed brilliant performance that enthralled the large audience beyond measure at the Bangladesh National Museum on the solemn evening of 22 February 2010. Dahlia's recitation was a unique form of protestation against the 1980's dictatorial regime of the country.

The installation on stage for the recitation program by D.K.Malakar, accompanied portraiture and choreography by Deepak Roy and others, amid harmony of light and shade, suffused by music of Sadi Mohammad, set to stream of script and narration, orchestrated by S.R.Rana.

The opening recitation was Robindronath Thakur's amar matha natho korey dao followed by its English translation, and then recitation from polli kobi Joshimuddin amar emon modhur Bangla bhasha and Sufia Kamal's ashchorjo emon deen.

There was an interlude with the recitation of Le Dormeu du val by French poet Arthur Rimbau (1854-91) described as 'an infant Shakespeare' by Victor Hugo followed by the Bangla translation.

Our rebel poet Kazi Nazrul Islam bashonthi ,and the lingering pathos of familiarity and separation in Sunil Gangopadhyay's raat pakheer dak followed closely; and then, so clearly ringing, came the poignant call of Abu Jaffer Obaidullah …ma go ora bolae…

The recitation of Ami Nimo Makezu by Japanese poet Miyazawa Kenji (1896-1933) a modernist and a firebrand Buddhist was followed by its Bangla translation.

Soliloquies, wondering, and values in Lincoln's letter to his son's teacher was a prelude to poet Sholil Chowdhury's Chabe meaning keys, that lead to supreme values of mankind and Mahadev Saha's nijaysho album ,a break away from convention.

That every Mother tongue is closest to one's heart flowed in Riku Chakma's rhetorically framed joli no udhim keythoe meaning why I should not protest. Mowlana Jalal Uddin Rumi's Farsi poetry dar ishka toh har dilay ke kardam heechasha was perfectly matched by the Bangla rendering in the luminous stage lighting. This was followed by Hindi poetry by poet, designer and director Farhad Zaman Palaash addressing terrorism …aatank ka karwar karnewale… The beauty and truth of the entire evening's performance was writ in the poems that the supreme freedom of humanity lies in the act of expression in one's Mother tongue. In the poetry of Shamsur Rahman it was jalpai er pallabay pallabay, in poet Asad Chowdhury it was falgoon alay e, and Syed Shamsul Haq's nandi and then, pathetic and painful yearning of Srijon Sen's matri bhumi er jonno.

The recitation program closed amidst ovation and Thank You, said in so many languages!

Farida Shaikh is a critic.