Jibonanondo Das's 122nd Death Anniversary
Tribute to a creative genius
Ever since I got to know poetry, I fell in love with it. Poetry became my solace in my cheerful and painful moments. Poetry is a sweet sensation for me-a lovely companion in loneliness. I can brood over a single poem for a long time if it catches my imagination and stirs up my soul. Poetry calms me down like a cool breeze; it provokes my thought like an inspiring teacher; it makes me a mad man who loves to dance with the rhythm of dancing words.
In my case, it is the poetry of Jibonanondo Das that bounds me up with a new spectrum of life; leaves me in a world of beauty and awe-inspiring nature; takes me away and draws me in from the dreary of a lonely life. He has painted painful love with a dexterous touch of poetic craftiness that evokes sweet sensation of love- the sweet and devastating sorrow of love that we cannot ignore but embrace with a calm and cool heart on our way to achieve final tranquillity.
The more I grew older the more I have witnessed and experienced the lonely and fragmented modern life. I wanted to alienate myself from all the hustle and bustle of modern life. Consequently, I took refuge in Jibonanondo whereas Jibonanondo took refuge in poetry. I literally drank and swallowed many of Jibonanondo's poems. And I really found that 'It is not dream- not peace-not love/ a 'Bodh' blooms in my heart' (my translation of "Bodh" by Jibonanondo Das). As the poet could not avoid this mysterious nature of "Bodh"(Conscience), I could not leave Jibonanondo as well. He always resides with me as "Bodh" plays in the mind of budding a philosopher.
I feel that I really love to walk hand in hand with Jibonanondo; I desire to dissolve and immerse with the 'unknown' of Jibonanondo- a magical defamiliarization of the known world. Poet Jibonanondo let himself loose in poetry to avoid his loveless marriage life though from childhood he was reclusive in nature. In the poem "Jatri" he utters: 'Outside and inside the heart dissolved/ becomes calm-more calm the inner home is" (my translation). Being battered by loveless marriage, losing his teenage love 'Shovona', and being always in financial trouble Jibonanondo started to live with poetry and thus poetry became his lifelong partner even in the moment of death.
Once I fell in love with a woman after reading the poem Bonolota Sen. Maybe, like me, lovebirds tasted new flavour and dimension of love after reading this particular poem. I also felt like Jibonanondo-- 'I am travelling for thousands year' just to get a " Bonolota Sen" in my life whose hair is 'sweet dense night of Vidisha' and whose face is 'crafted like Sravasti'. I wonder and wonder but I could not get one in life. Only Jibonanondo can make it happen in poetry-the magic real woman- and create a Bonolota Sen with whom only he can 'sit face to face'!
His love poems 'Smriti', 'Akashlina', 'Se', "Ami Jodi Hotam", "Tomai Ami" " Kuri Bocor Pore" and " Suronjona" are few to mention and my favorite ones. I wonder how meticulously this man has depicted love with its modern complexity. He has longed for love everywhere but, in doing so, he has discovered and tasted the inseparable and corollary parts of love: weariness, separation, emptiness, and death. I become amazed when I see how shrewdly, in many instances, this great poet has weaved a surrealistic picture of love and inner sorrow employing some distinct but familiar images and symbols.
His words are simple but symbolic;his lines are not readily understandable; his whole poems are close to heart but gives me an idiosyncratic feeling. Images that he draws though seem very near to me, theysometimes create an absurd uncanny feeling in my heart. I become more drawn to read them; to unleash their meaning, and to interpret them from various perspectives to find my own absurdity of life.
His love for nature of Bengal and his romantic cum patriotic fervor make me an ardent lover of his poetry. Poems like" Ruposhi Bangla", " TomarjekhaneShadh CholeJao" " EkdinDhansiriNodirDhare", " GhumayePoribo Ami Ekdin" etc. delineate the beauty of the Bengal and show how inseparable poet and his motherland as if they are embedded together. Each and every poem reminds me of my idyllic and innocent village life. In each and every word I can smell, sense, and visualize the village life that I left long ago.
Jiboannondo's poetry is to be read, felt and then to be lost in an introspection from where there is no return but to find oneself in aura and enigma. The fecund and creative imagination of Jibonanondo has painted not only the Bengali nature around him but he also depicted the art and chemistry of love and pain that looms large in the hidden soul of every human being which they fail to express. Thus in his poem "Chil" (Kite) we find the epitome of modern human nature in dealing with pain as he writes " who loves to excavate the heart to usher pain!".
As a modern and contemporary reader of poetry, I can easily attach my emotion and intellect with the gamut of Jibanonodo's works. Juxtaposition of the tranquil rural Bengal and the concrete modern Calcutta reminds us of the poet William Blake's poetic creation "Songs of Innocence and of Experience".
However, Jibonanondo always wanted to crush the pain through the mystery of the lived experience of life and due to this reason, like me, modern readers also love to come back to Jibonanondo to unravel and taste the fantasy and mystery that the poet embroiders through his brilliant use of dictions. Like a modern lover I also ruminate and my heart yearns like Jibonanondo echoing his words:"Again after twenty years, if I meet her again! / Again, after twenty years."
But again, as a sensible reader and as a pragmatic person every day I find a miserable existence in this hapless world and reiterate the words of Jibonanondo: "an enigmatic darkness has crept in this world/ only where the blinds see more" (my translation). But again, like Jibonanondo, I go back to life and hope against the hope and make friendship with the nature and people of Bengal and murmur "you go wherever you desire to go- I will remain in the lap of Bengal".
Ariful Islam Laskar is an Assistant
Professor of the Department of English at
Daffodil International University