To be a writer is a never-ending struggle----Anisur Rahman
(From the previous issue)
What created you as a writer, when did you guess that you wanted to write literary pieces?
I do not know. I wanted to have freedom of thought and independence of using my time and ideas. My father is a farmer. I wanted to be a farmer, lawyer, politician, teacher and so on. Now I have finished the struggle of being a writer, but it is a never-ending struggle for a survival. It is a bad choice. Henrik Ibsen has said, "to be a writer is to fight against the devil in you all the time". Somehow, I feel I can tell my mind through writing though I cannot recognize myself as a writer so far…it is a painful journey, it is an exciting journey…full of dilemma, full of contradictions. However, I know my way. I love it since I do not have any other better alternative. One becomes writer after falling in love and starts to write love poems or love letters to his lover. One becomes writer to get rid of painful suffocative feeling. I started to write as an outcome of extreme pains in me, not as a young lover. I pass manifestation of tragedies and comedies in me every time. It happens that my daughter is the light in the center and my writing is surrounding her as a kind of breathings of survival. It became clear when I was a graduate student at the University of Dhaka and later on - in touch with my wife Rashida Asma. Seems my journey is going to be in the struggle for writing again…good or bad, it has no difference. My family, my wife is a sufferer from an unrest bohemian like me…this is one of the reasons I find it a stupid choice for me to try to be a writer. Anyway, if I am asked what life you want to accept in your next life if it happens, I will say, I want to have the same life, same parents, same wife, same daughter and same struggle for survival in writing. Then I will just correct my mistakes, no other changes. Because I love it. Love wins in life, nothing else. I love writing.
Tell about the main reason that made you move to Sweden from your country…
It was not a choice, it was not an ambition. The time was not good, administration was under the control of military. I was stupid enough to impose trouble on myself. I am now trying to get rid of that reality and connecting two countries in line with the internationalization of literature. Now I am trying to share my time between two countries and two cultures.
What is the most felt difference for you between life in Bangladesh and of that in Sweden?
I had the same question few years before, when I had a dialogue with Swedish intellectual Arne Ruth at the Bengali-Nordic Literary event at the Theatre Blanca in Uppsala. My answer was like this: "Bangladesh faces institutional lack and Sweden witnesses institutional block". Our life in Bangladesh is humble, flexible and peaceful in all regards, only thus I can recollect my childhood in my village Digarbaaiid in Madhupur in the district of Tangail where my parents still live. Bangladesh has experienced British colonial past which destroyed many of our natural and cultural traditions. It is major fact that hindered our institutionalization of many things, for example, democracy, and administration and so on. On the other hand, Sweden was never colonized. The country is a pioneer welfare state. If it was possible, I would like to import from Sweden tax system, role of churches, public educational system to Bangladesh and Swedish cold a bit. On the other hand, I wish to import musicality, flexibility and harmony of Bengali life and a bit warmth from Bangladesh to Sweden.
You have written much in all the genres of writing: poetry, prose, children's literature, pieces for theater, newspaper publications. Which one is the most valuable for you? Where you are most capable of expressing yourself? Which one do you enjoy while writing?
Poetry. Every genre of writing is a kind of poetry. Once I was listening to South African writer Nadine Gordimer. Then she said that from the beginning to the end your writing in your entire life is a single volume of your travelogue when you find your life as a journey. On the other hand, writing is love-letter to time. Different facts and truth require different form of expression. The core secrecy is "inner dialogue". Every sort of writing is your inner dialogue. This is the different spirit from politics. I want to remember our writer Humayun Ahmed who said: "what is written in the books of history is not true. But what the writers have written in their literary books is true history". Poetry is my first and last breathing in writing.
You have written and spoken much about the meaning of poetry. Yet, how can you express its main function in one sentence?
Poetry is the finest form of expression to tell your mind, to expose the truth, to declare your sovereign existence in favour of beauties in life. Poetry is the thing where I can manifest my true feeling and archive my honesty to myself. I do not have any other capability where I can tell my mind. I cannot sing, I do not have that voice. I cannot paint, I do not have that capability. If I could, I would have done music and paintings. Poetry is my last shelter along with my daughter in my life. I do not force myself to write poetry. However, I long for poetry all the time but I do not like my own poetry.
I know the limitations in my poetry better than anyone else. That is the reason, I am not fond of my poetry. I continue writing, "what will be, will be".
What do you think is your most important achievement as a writer or what are you trying to achieve in your writings?
Most important achievement as a 'writer' or I would say 'trying to be a writer' is to try to survive in writing. I have not given it up, it is the only achievement I can see. For a writer only recognition exists in the minds of readers ….not in academy, scholarships or prizes. The fate of a book lies in the hands of readers. However, I do not think of readers or recognitions. I want to tell my mind, that I try to do. Only and only "writing" is the power of a writer, nothing else, no position, no other career or portfolios. Bengali poetRafiq Azad once said, "if I had possibility I would slap some people when I witnessed their stupidity". He could not do that. That is why he used to write poetry by sacrificing his comfortable sleeping at night. So do I.
What do you want your daughter to remember about you?
I am not sure what my daughter has got from me. I love to discover many qualities she has had from mother Rashida Asma- one is a best child and the other is a best mother … so I want to see love in them. I am grateful to her mother. I have learnt a lot from my daughter and her mother. From my life I know how boys grow up. Am lucky to witness how my daughter grows up. Bengali writer Sunil Gangyopadhya, a father to a son was longing for a daughter as he wanted to witness the growth of a girl-child.
My daughter is a blessing in my life. I have achieved the stability in me through her birth. I was utmost unrest in mind before her birth. I was a wind. Now I find my existence in her. Individually, I do not find optimism in me. However, I believe in optimism in life. Thus life wins. To me my daughter is a top indication of that truth. Who cares of me as an individual no matter am a writer, a worker, a guardian, a citizen, a Bengali writer or just a brown-skinned Asían? My daughter does, she is my world.
So, my answer to your question is this: I want my daughter to remember me as her friend.
What kind of advice can you give to young people who want to write?
Iusually learn from young writers. They are fresh and sincere in their commitment and thoughts. I appreciate their honest commitment. I can share my experience that I have gained. Life is a journey. Einstein has found life as a bicycle. If you do not move, you will fall down along with your cycle. For me to be writer, the following facts are must: never stop reading, never stop writing. No need to flee from life, rather celebrate it. Life is a school, is a chance, so I see.