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Friday, September 4, 2009

Kazi Nazarul Islam Commemoration (June 25, 1968)

The portrait of Kazi Nazrul Islam appears at the right hand side against a lemon yellow background on 15 Paisa stamp and a strawberry red background on 50 Paisa stamp. The portrait is hand engraved and printed in brown colour. The word "Pakistan" in English, Urdu and Bengali appears in reverse in the brown panel at the bottom. The words "Kazi Nazrul Islam Poet and Musician (b. 25th May 1899)" are printed in brown at the top. The denominations "15 Paisa" and "50 Paisa" are also printed in brown in the top right hand corner. The word "POSTAGE" appears at the left hand side just above the bottom panel. On the left hand side of the portrait the following verse from his works is printed in Bengali Script in brown.

To highlight the role played by the Rebel Poet and Composer, Kazi Nazrul Islam (b. 1899), as a fighter for freedom of the Indo-Pakistan Subcontinent, Pakistan Post Office is issuing a set of two stamps of 15 Paisa and 50 Paisa denominations in the "Poet Series" on the 25th of June,1968.

Kazi Nazrul Islam popularly called ‘Nazrul’ hails from the Kazi family of Churulia in Asansol Sub-Division, of Burdwan District. His father was a man of moderate means and when he died, Nazrul was only eight years old. His uncle then took care of him and under his influence Nazrul started writing poetry early in life as the former was also a poet and well-versed in Persian. He also took to composing songs and dramatic pieces for the local "Letto" (rural opera) parties and made his mark in the art of writing and earning something for the family. "But the little bird in the family cage" felt suffocated, as he said later. The lure of life made the "child of light", as he used to be called by his family, slip away to Asansol where he took service as a page on a paltry pittance.

Attracted by his musical and literary talents, Qazi. Rafizuddin, a sub-inspector of Police, sent Nazrul to his village home in Mymensingh district and got him admitted ihto the local High School where he studied for a year, and then went back to Asansol and joined the Raniganj Searsol Raj High School. Here he studied for three years till 1917 when he joined as an ordinary soldier the 49th Bengal Regiment formed during the First World War. He was then a student of Class X. That was the end of his formal academic career. The Regiment was quartered in the Abyssinia Lines of the Karachi City. And here began his outstanding literary career by the publication in some Calcutta Journals, of his prose and poetical contributions under the name of "Havildar" Kazi Nazrul Islam, the 49th Bengal Regiment, Karachi". While in Karachi, he also studied Persian and translated some of the Rubaiyats and Ghazals of Hafiz into Bengali.

The following contributions of Nazrul from the Karachi Cantonment heralded the advent of a rising star in the firmament of Bengali literature, viz.

(a) Boundeler Atmakahini—Autobiography of a Vagabond—in ‘Saogat’ of Jaistha, 1326 B.S.;
(b) Mukti (poem) in the ‘Bangiya Patrika’ (Srabon, 1326);
(c) Kabita-Samadhj—Burial of Poetry—in ‘Saogat’ (Aswin, 1326)
(d) Hena—story—in the ‘Bangiya Musalman Sahitya Patrika’ (Kartik, 1326);
(e) Byethar Dan—Gift of Sorrow—in ‘Ditto’ (Magh, 1326).

The poem "Mukti" was a most remarkable performance for a youngster. Nazrul Islam is the only poet to whom Tagore dedicated a book of his—’Vasant’, a song-drama.

"Rikter Bedon"—a story book was admittedly written "on the sands of the Arabian Sea". The book contains eight stories and is woven round the author and his dream-2irl Meher Nagar. The last story in this book is entitled ‘Duranta Pathik’— Traveller Desperate—in thrilling but somewhat mystified language. The depiction is of the Poet himself. The Traveller came across Terror on the way. Terror threatened: "Don’t you know me ? I am Fetters, out to kill you whatever be your explanation. I am to fetter Salvation. You have to die". The Traveler stood stiff and said: "Well, beat me and chain me if you can. But you cannot fetter me unto death, for I have no death!". The story ends with the couplet

"Thy Trumpet ring, loud and deep, far and away;
The heroic bond clustereth round thee
thy command to obey "

On his return in 1919, after disbandment of the 49th Bengal Regiment Nazrul jumped headlong into the field of Bengali Literature with a dash and dazzle all his own
Nazrul’s debut in the domain of literature coincided with the countrywide upheavals over the Khilafatcum-Non-Co-operation movements. A patriot from top to toe, Nazrul utilised his natural talents and powerful pen in support of the emancipation of the people, oppressed and suppressed people in particular, for whom he spoke, wrote, sang, thought and thundered all his life. He was for complete independence of the country and composed stinging satires on Dominion Status and other similar ideals.
The publication of Nazrul’s ‘VIDROHI’ (The Rebel) and ‘KAMAL PASHA’ in the monthly ‘Muslim Bharat’ (Kartic 1328: 1921) made the greatest sensation in the literary circle of Bengal. The "Rebel" in particular was reproduced in a number of other journals.

The "VIDROHI" starts with the thrilling words

The ‘Vidrohi’ is a long poem. Here are the translations of the lines quoted above, and some other typical lines:

"Proclaim, Hero proclaim
Towering high is my head
Making the Himalayan peak bend low.
Proclaim, Hero proclaim
Tearing the great firmament of the great universe;
Transcending the moon and sun, planets and constellations,
Piercing the heart of earth, celestial sphere and cosmic path,
And Allah’s A rash have I risen,
The wonder of wonders of the Lord’s universe,
With the might of majestic might on forehead blazing bright.
Proclaim, Hero, proclaim—My head is ever held high.
I am Creation, I am Destruction,
I am Habitation, I am Desolation.
lam the end and close of the darkest night.
I am the Hero in revolt for ever,
Rising beyond the universe,
Along with my head ever held high".

(Translated by Mizanur Rahman.)

For sometime he served on the editorial staff of the "Nava Jug" started by the late Mr. A.K.Fazlul Huq and later brought out his bi-weekly Dhumketu, the Comet, in which he cast fire and brimstone against the foreign administration which could not stand it long. Nazrul was prosecuted on a charge of sedition and thrown into imprisonment for a year early in January, 1923. The Rebel Poet put up no defence except making a long statement explaining his standpoint, later published as ‘Rajbandir Jabanbandi’. He said, inter alia:

"It is out of my intense faith in myself that I have described wrong as wrong, oppression as oppression and untruth as untruth, without faultier or flattery. I have raised the standard of revolt against the King, as also against the society, nation and country, holding aloft the Sword of Truth in my hand.. . .1 am the lyre of Truth Divine in that I am a Poet with the Soul of a Seer....

Inside the goal Nazrul carried on hunger-strike for 40 days and wrote his famous Shikal-Bhangar Gaan "This wearing of shackles by us is but a ruse to break your shackles." After his release, in April 1924, he married and sought to settle down to a peaceful life, pursuing his love of literature. The same year he started his weekly paper called ‘LANGAL’.

In 1928, Nazrul lost his dear and talented son, Bulbul. By now the Rebel in hun mellowed down into a music composer. and seeker of inner light. He flooded Bengal with enchanting songs, ghazals, kirtans, etc. He holds the world’s record ‘of recorded music with more than three thousand to his credit. In 1938, his wife was attacked with partial paralysis of her body. In August, 1942, the Poet himself fell victim to a disease, making him senseless, speechless and motionless. The malady did not yield to treatment at home and abroad—in London and Vienna. The spell still continues. The Poet who did so much for our national freedom and renaissance is unconscious of what has happened to us since 1942.

Nazrul Islam wielded a most facile pen. During his active literary life of about twenty-two years, he wrote over sixty books, of which the most outstanding ones are Agni-Vina (Flute of Fire), Binsher Banshi (Flute of Poison), Bhangar Gaan (Songs of Destruction), Zinzir, Chakrabak, Natun Chand, Maru Bhaskar, etc. (Poetry) ; Bulbul, pts. I & II, Zulflqar, Bon-Geeti, etc. (Songs

and Ghazals); Rubaiyat-i-Hafiz, Umar Khayyam and Kavve Ampara (Translation) ; Byethar Dan, Rikter Bedan, Kuhelika and Mrita-Kshudha (novel and stories). He enriched the Bengali language by the apt use and introduction of many Arabic, Persian and Urdu words. Nazrul Islam also wrote poems, songs, ghazal on Islamic themes and the Muslim heroes of the world. His "Fatehai-Duazdaham" dealing with the birth and death of the Prophet (May peace be on him) is a masterpiece. A quotation from his poem CHIRA-NIRBHOY written in March 1942, would indicate the fiery temperament he possessed and the manner in which he exhorted his fellow Muslin-is to rise and break the shackles of bondage and slavery.

A soldier of Allah that I am, no obstacles for me, nor fear,
By the Sword of I-us light and rigour all knots are cut by me clear.

The tempest burst at my birth; 1 am the stormy wind;
‘Jihad and Jihad’, Revolt and Revolution-that the song I sing.

The old and worn out traditions all I burn.
As I move, the mad and don’t-care traveler that I am, anon.
No sky, no star, no planet, no cover,
No chain, no prison can hold me ever - - -
The Ever-Eternal Most perfect draweth me night and day;
So 1 am invincible and free from death and dismay;

(Translated by Mizanur Rahman).

It is a pity that the greatest Muslim poet of the Bengali language and literature stricken by an incurable disease is still mute and inarticulate. But his songs, ghazals and kirtans and his musical compositions have already earned him a glory that will never fade and a name cannot be effaced from the face of the earth.