A Tribute to the ‘Wizard of Words’
Can you remember the rain-soaked day when clad in yellow the son Nuhash, encircled by his kith and kin, burst into tears before a floral coffin carrying the corpse of his father, legendary writer Humayun Ahmed at Central Shaheed Minar, Dhaka? Can you hear the resonation of the song of his composition in background- "Oh karigor, doyar sagor, ogo doyamoy, channi posor raite jeno amar moron hoy"? As a die-hard Humayun fan, I am pretty sure, that fateful day would never ever slip the minds of hundreds of thousands of his crazy fans who have spent incalculable hours reading his all epic novels, or putting eyes for umpteenth number of hours on TV screens or silver ones watching his magnificently crafted plays and movies.
In a time when alien culture got the better of us and young generations leaned more towards technology rather than reading books, it was the maestro, Humayun Ahmed, one of the very few, who wrestled against the trend, keeping us, for ages, enchanted by and waiting for his new novels, TV plays and movies. Be it a new release or old ones, Humayun Ahmed's books always flew off the shelves in every book fair during 1990s and 2000s. His debut novel "Nondito Noroke" published in 1972 became an overnight sensation setting him off to a journey of an illustrious career.
As a teen of late 90s, I just cannot recall an occasion of Eid when TV channels were not dominated by his hilarious comedies. Even in the black-and-white BTV-only era, his masterpiece TV plays like "Kothao Keu Nei", "Nokkhotrer Rat", "Aj Robi Bar" appealed to the tastes of folks of all classes and ages. His muscle in movie making was well tested back in 1994 when his first ever movie "Aguner Poroshmoni", which I reckon an atom bomb, rocked our silver-screen world. The film he made with his magical hands ended up winning National Film Award in eight categories including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Plot!
Why and how was Humayun Ahmed so successful in his creative endeavour? What was the clear distinction he made from his contemporaries? If we delve deep into his literary works, we can comprehend that his phenomenal success was attributed to his incredible ability to tell stories of contemporary Bengali men and women in simple and unostentatious language, portraying them with spellbinding intimacy. Although his characters belonged to a broad spectrum of society, Humayun Ahmed was always at his best while depicting the Bengali middle class.
With unconventional beginnings, endings and characterizations, his works have an unusual spell-like quality. In his write-ups, there is hardly ever anything like absolutely good or bad or evil or absolutely true or false in his creations which make them more real and connect us with them even better, because that is exactly how real life is. As I personally scrutinize his works, I wonder who could better-describe a vagabond like Baker Bhai who is more sinned against than sinning in Kothao Keu Nei, or inner woes of a typical middle-class father who secretly buys his stepdaughter skin-whitening cream to marry her off in Shonkhonil Karagar! I equally wonder how a character like Taiyab in Ure Jay Bok Pokkhi entertains us with his cunning yet foolish activities. Thus, I , like many, become Himu, MisirAli or Shuvrowhile reading his fictional creations and leave myself completely marvelled a ton reading the genius's subtle portrayal, whether it's Himu's romantic indifference towards Rupa or Misir Ali's search for truth.
With due respect to all, this writer is of belief that it wouldn't be an overstatement to say that Humayun Ahmed is the most celebrated writer of contemporary time and one of the best storytellers in the history of Bangla literature. Although some critics opine that they find in Humayun's works a manifestation of drop in literary values, his extraordinarily outstanding knack in storytelling in the simplest of the manner simply outweighs them.
With all critical remarks aside, the prodigy who penned more than 200 fiction and non-fiction books towers simultaneously as a novelist, dramatist, screenwriter, filmmaker, songwriter, scholar, and lecturer. If the awards and accolades he got under his belt are concerned, he positions himself as high as Himalayan. He won several prestigious awards for his contribution to Bangla literature in his life time. Among them, Lekhak Shibir Prize (1973), Jainul Abedin Gold Medal, Bangla Academy Award (1981), Michael Madhusudan Medal (1987), Ekushey Padak (1994), Sheltech Award (2007) are most important.
Humayun Ahmed is a star twinkling in the skies of Bangla Literature with his literary creations. The man, who turned down the offer of US citizenship to serve his own people with his creativity and battled till his final hours to enrich Bangla Literature in his yet another battle against colon cancer, is a real hero who deserves our hats off. We do not know how long the wait will be for our nation to be bestowed upon by another Humayun Ahmed, as the writers of his magnitude are not born every day or in an age but once in a century. It has been eight years since the virtuoso breathed his last but we can still feel his presence in his words and in his works. He was, he is and he always will be in our hearts perpetually. His literary characters will escort us as long as Bangla Literature exists. Thus, ends the tribute to the wizard of words.
Faisal Ahmed teaches English Language in ABC International School, Narayanganj