Dhaka Courier

Alamgir’s poetic words of protest

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Shishirer Buke Shish Diye (Whistling into the heart of a dewdrop) is the second book of poetry by Alamgir Khan. Alamgir is used to writing on various topics including education, drama, short stories and contemporary socio-political affairs of local and global interests. Those who are familiar with his writings have noticed that these are against ignorance, poverty, injustice, inequality, superstitions, anti-environment activities and other vices prevailing in society. His struggle does not stop at only pointing to the problems but also goes into the realm of searching for solutions.

Most of the poems of this book reflect the wounds on the poet’s mind caused by the local and global socio-political crises. His belief in Marxist philosophy is apparent, but in his poems he did not try to prescribe solutions. The poems’ success depends on their capacity to move hearts of the readers. I do not belong to those about whom the poet has said, ‘In this time it is hard to differentiate between a poet and a non-poet (in his poem Keboli Shondha). I am a non-poet. So my opinions about this book of poetry should be regarded as an expression of a reader’s feelings only.

Contrary to what often happens in most cases of so-called modern or adhunik poems, I did not need to take any help from any dictionary or encyclopedia while going through this book and having the taste of Alamgir’s words. Neither did I need to sit on some hilltop in meditation to understand the essence of the poems, nor had I to ask the poet the meanings of his poetic words. Without such efforts I could easily get to the essence of the words that stirred my heart. Some of these words took me back to some forgotten incidents and made me ponder on our failures and limitations. Shishirer Bukey Shishi Diye is, therefore, a successful poetic revelation to a reader like me.

Each of the forty poems, except a few ones, expresses protest against injustices. This book has revealed the hidden imperialist and state design to perpetuate poverty, inequality and oppression. The efforts to make humans and their arts and literature into mere commodities are exposed. The tone is sometimes rebellious, sometimes ironic; at one time the poet just makes complaints and at another he delivers his message in a cup of love.

There are both rhymed and unrhymed poems in this book, yet I have hardly noticed any lack of rhythm and beauty anywhere. The poet’s sincerity to what he says, commitment to social justice, perfect use of similes and natural rhythm of speech make all his poems very enjoyable to read.

Obaidho Sampadokiyo (Illegitimate editorial), the first poem of the book, is a very beautiful expression of the poet’s anger and dissatisfaction about the existing ways of society. In a tone mixed with satire and protest, the poem has flowed speedily like a stream coming down dancing from a hilltop and depicted a society made hostage to some coterie of ill interests.

Shahitya Sampadok Shaheb (Editor of the literature page) is a protest against the commodification of arts and literature by the corporate media. The poem Shishirer Bukey Shish Diye has shown how ideological cloak has helped many people to commit evil deeds in society. Shobdo Ure Jai (Words fly away) and Bhatarer Nam (The name of the husband) are protests against injustices committed by the society as well as the state.

In his long poem Thoter Kachhe Roktim Surjo (Blood-red sun on the lips), there is a picture of a young man, who is strongly aware about the ongoing social and political matters, being tortured by some secret force. While he is being physically and verbally abused despite his denial of knowing anything, he describes the crimes committed by those who are powerful in society and cannot be touched by the hands of law.

Bhalo Theko Priyo Chand (Stay well, dear moon) advises the moon in the sky to be watchful while going along the path of the sky because there are robbers and rapists dressed as good souls waiting on her way to grab and harm her. The moon represents some garment factory girl on her way to the workplace or back home through various dangers lying in wait by the way in the dark.

Jara Matrigorbhe Ghumuschho, Ghumao (Those who are sleeping in mother’s womb, stay asleep) is a heartfelt protest against murder, abuse and torture of children, which reached an unbearable level a few days ago. In Kandbo Na, Bole Dischhi (No more tears), the poet declares that he will shed no more tears for Tonu, a 19 year-old girl who was brutally murdered in Cumilla. The pains in the heart of our nation seems to have echoed in the three poems mentioned above.

His Che Mane Tarunno (Che means youth) sees Che Guevara, the legendary revolutionary, in the 7th March speech by Bangabandhu, in Maulana Bhashani’s as salamu alaikum and khamosh, in the victory of 16th December, in the songs of Lalon, in Nazrul, Rabindranath and in the natural beauties of Bangladesh.

Horin, Khargosh O Foring (A dear, rabbit and grasshopper), Haturi Ne, Batal Ne (Take up the tools as weapons) and Prithibi, Samaj O Manush (The earth, society and man) narrate how world imperialism and its local stooges run their machine of exploitation and oppression under the cloak of democracy and peace. Ek Rupkothar Nayok (The prince in a fairy tale) is on Poet Michael Madhusudan Dutt and tells the story of his great patriotism and struggle against imperialism.

Contrary to other poems, Kono Golpo Nei (There is no story) has no complaints and protest, but a calm acceptance of any dire situation in life. Andhokare Path Hati (Walking in the dark) has a tone of depression, but the poet walks along in the dark with an unshakable belief in light at the end of the tunnel.

The comparison of religious identity to poverty did not seem appropriate to me in Porichaypatroheen (Without an ID card). Shat Ashmangami (Towards the heavens) has sounded too complex and modern-type for me to understand. Swapner Fale Swapner Shan (Shining the ploughshare of dream) is composed with rhymes, but has not put any impact upon my mind.

Against the background of all these poems dealing with the contemporary socio-political issues, Paap (Sin) is a poem that speaks out truth for all time. The physical relation of love between man and woman has been expressed in beautiful images and heartfelt words. The first line of the poem is: Kichhi kichhu paap achhe ja punner cheye beshi punnomoy (There are some sins that are more sacred and the sacred)

Eri Nam Jibon (This is what life is) is a poem which is different from others in its celebration of life. Sotto O Sundor (Truth and beauty) is another poem which stands apart in its expression of love intermingled with a sense of sadness. Beyond these poems that speak for the joys of life, Premer Prarthona (Prayer for love) is a call for the oppressed people to rebel, which is the core element of this poetry. Besides this, another poem that expresses most of the essence of this book is Keboli Shondha (Always evening), the last one. It also shows what social problems affect the heart of the poet.

Alamgir Khan often writes columns in dailies and weeklies on various national and international isuues. On reading Shishirer Bokey Shish Diye I understand that he does not write for any petty gain, but to make some real contribution to social progress. Only the thought of making people aware of the existing situation and inspiring them to face and solve the problems correctly moves Alamgir to write whatever he writes in prose and poetry.

Ashraf Ahmed, a former Dhaka University teacher, is a writer and biomedical scientist working in the USA.

  • Reviewed by Ashraf Ahmed
  • Alamgir’s poetic words of protest
  • Vol 35
  • Issue 52
  • DhakaCourier

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