"Driven out of my home
I go sinking in the moon outside
A house full of moon-monochrome
But I drive my hand in empty ride"
With the publication of his first novel Nondito Noroke in 1972, when the writer was roughly a 25 years old University graduate, there was well enough implication on his side to be considered that unlike many other young writers of his time he will not be sank into oblivion of time. From the day he stepped his firm step in the Bengali literary realm, Humayun Ahmed kept writing tirelessly, until he died in 2012, in Belview Hospital, NY. Although there goes a wide dissatisfaction among his critic concerning why Humayun, with a soaring popularity, became less caring about the depth and analysis of life in his literary works, they simultaneously believe that he has a considerable number of creation that defines him as a true and keen artist of life. With his magical way of stimulating human emotion which is a marked and noticeable characteristic of his major part of writing, he made a great number of readers whom he almost hypnotized throughout almost four long decades. Ahmed had a strange fascination for the full moon, for the overwhelming silvery light of the circular moon; for the everlasting mystery of its magnetic and arresting capabilities. Many of his writings as well as his personal activities are highly of the share of his inspiration he accumulated, being mesmerized by the beauty of full blooming moon, by the tide of undulated seawater crushing on the hard, rocky seashore. Wandering through the twisted track of his eventful life, he spread among the young generation a spark of connoisseurship of beauty and simplicity, of joy and scorn, of fantasy and magic-reality. Another of Ahmed's great capabilities was his parallel appreciation to the writers he liked, but rather than creating a trend of following those of the tracks, he successfully created his own. As for example he appreciated and borrowed feelings from Rabindranath Tagore, Manik Bandopadhya, Sharat Chandra Chatterjee although he distinctly delivered them to the readers in a way much more differently, in his own style of telling. Although he was a student of Chemistry himself, his tremendous knack for literature could not let him roll back himself to the profession of teaching Chemistry at Dhaka University. So from the Chemistry of matter he came to Chemistry of life. A taste for horrors and psycho-thriller revealed mostly in his short stories made him a kind of master of human mystification. Edgar Allan Poe was one of his favorites,
"From every depth of good and ill
the mystery which binds me still:
From the torrent, or the fountain,
from the red cliff of the mountain
My heart to joy at the same tone;
and all I loved, I loved alone."
Born on November 1948 in Kutubpur in the district of Netrokona, Ahmed emerged in the Bengali literary world in the early 1970s and over the subsequent decade became the most popular fiction writer of the country. His breakthrough occurred with the help of Ahmed Sofa and the publication of his first novel, Nondito Noroke in 1972. Written and published in the early 1970s this book introduced us not only with the utmost zeal of a writer but also with a foresighted artist who knew the fluctuation of life from a very tender age ? the microcosm of the philosophy of living, of its joy, its sorrow and the eternity in its stream. The then contemporary connoisseurs clearly anticipated that the emerging writer who had created this masterpiece was something whom the literary realm of Bangladesh had been longing for so long, whom we expected to be someone born for telling stories, for making us cry, making us laugh in the fold of pages of his books. He was also a former professor of the Department of Chemistry at the University of Dhaka. Notably, as of February 2004, Ahmed continued to top the best seller list of a Bangla Academy book fair, a feat that had been maintained over the previous two decades.
His stories, either written in his usual style of using supernatural events or in the way he describes by means of his power of using simple and perpendicular diction, are the representation of an individual's authenticity at a time when many of the other writers are building a tendency of following the style adopted from the writers of west-Bengal. He is certainly a distinguished writer, who, using the simplest possible diction could reach the mass reader of the country. American novelist William Faulkner (1897 ? 1962), while implying one of the major capabilities possessed by great writers, indicated Ernest Hemingway, asserting "He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary"
Likewise, it was Ahmed's inborn power to hypnotize a reader with his magical delivery of his narrative. His books are identified with their strength of arresting the crumbling and turbulent concentration of the reader what makes him the most popular fiction writer of Bangladesh. There is hardly any reader who hasn't ever gone through a book of Humayun Ahmed. Well, Ahmed had travelled a lot and a writer who is by born embedded with ink is a great absorbent. He imitates, creates and soaks up things immediately as he experiences. Another quality that needs to be focused is Humayun's patient narration to the external stimuli including social and cultural aspects of the people he lived with. Apart from the simplicity of his prose, the compactness of his writings brought him further dimension as his writing is largely based on dialogue rather than just narrating in a somewhat complicated way. He has made a legendary example of providing an excellent readability to reach the readers of every sphere. Highly dependent on some stereotypical character such as Misir Ali and Himu who behave in a pre-ordained manner, this writer proved his worth in making this "predictable characters" as the most popular character among the readers of great number. Also, these characters while carrying a great romanticism, reveals the writers logical and anti-logical aspects.
As a writer, and being personally an optimist, he expressed a mood of enthusiasm through his writings. The way he pokes the conscience, attacks the fundamental decadence of the existing society can be penetrated as a mere comic vision, but a careful pair of eyes will find a drastically sharp appeal of driving out the uneven and unjust. With the use of stunning wit and humour, he maintained a sudden and provoking beginning of his short stories and novels. Irony and paradoxical ideas are available in the vocal of his characters. Some of his masterpieces and everlasting creations including Ei Shob Din Ratri, Bohubrihi, Ayomoy, Kothao Keu Nei, Nakshatrer Raat, Aguner Parashmoni, Nondito Noroke, Gouripur Junction, Shonkhonil Karagar and Jothsna O Jononir Galpo will keep him alive generations after generations.
In television and cinema Humayun launched a new dimensional way to approach. He made numerous viewers at the numb time of our television serials. We mustn't have forgotten the Baaker Bhai of the serial Kothao Keu Nei who became such a popular character that before the last episode was telecast, all walks of people across the country brought out processions protesting his death sentence; public prayers and death anniversaries have been observed for this fictional character. His movies ? Shonkhonil Karagar, Aguner Proshmoni, Shrabon Megher Din, Dui Duari and Chandrokotha paved a new horizon to the film world of Bangladesh apart from creating a taste for going to cinema among the large masses of people who were almost alien to the picture houses previously for the poorer and nasty condition of the standard of Bangla film.
He composed and used quite a good deal of heart-touching songs in his films, the most notable of which are Ami Aaj Bhejabo Chokh Somudrer Joley, Chadni Poshor Ratey, Amaaar Achey Jol, Mathay Porechi Sada Cap, Ekta Chilo Sonar Konnya and O Amar Ural Ponkhi.
Today, at the very time when we have been living without his magical hand and when the rough truth of his absence is haunting us overwhelmingly, we perceive a vacancy in our literature. We can feel that someone was with us who is absent today; someone who taught us to love the full moon, the dusk-rainfall, serene woods. He was often seen quoting from Robert Frost (1874-1963),
"The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep
And miles to go before I sleep"
?Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,
Robert Frost (1874-1963)
A writer possesses some particular qualities that marks him as someone different from ordinary people to some extant. One of such most gifted qualities of Humayun Ahmed was his spontaneous access to the microcosm of our joys and sorrows.
His hand, equipped with his magical pen, is the hand of an artist who is capable of drawing immediate sketch focusing on the contemporary discrepancies of the typical Bengalese. He was excessively versatile. The qualitative element of his observation of life suggests his profound proficiency in creativity and skillful inspection on our Bengali sentiment, the touch of which captivates a large sum of fascinated reader; glitters the genius he got nowhere but directly from the blessings of nature.
With thousands stars twinkling above the sky, with last sun-drops of every passing day, with every sip of moonlit night this born-writer shall have been remembered by a great number of people whom he once taught to dream, and to roam between pages and words. Of course, death dares not touch what is deathless; legend lives on.
Mahmudul Hasan Hemal is a post graduate student, Department of English, University of Chittagong