Aunarjo Nayeem is a young poet with a matured world view steeped in socio-political awareness. The title of his third book of poetry, Dharma Niropekkho Boshonto (Secular Spring), tells a lot about the glass through which he looks at the world—a secular progressive attitude. It also uncovers the decline we have achieved in our so-called development with regard to our relation with nature and other non-human entities around us. So the poet hopes for a spring season free from capitalist assaults and distortions.
Nayeem’s Dharma Niropekkho Boshonto is published by Protikotha in February this year. Titles of some of the poems show his political outlook towards most things in society as well as even in nature. There are, besides the secular spring, Political Chand (political moon), Supeyo Jol (potable water), Shohoj Shorto (easy condition imposed by world creditors), Prostabona (proposal), Biggaponer Political Code (political code of advertisement), Ei Bhurajnoitik Kolahole (in this chaos of geopolitics), Ekti Dokan O Tar Biggapon (a shop and its advertisement), Michhil (procession), Plabon (floods), etc.
Poet Nayeem is shocked to see that “someone wants to put the vast expanse of water into his shirt pocket and everyone is busy indulging in consumption and luxury.” He prophesies, “one day the water in the tanks will be vaporized and later distributed as rain by the corporate houses.” (In Supeyo Jol)
The advertisement for a shop says: “Here we sell liver, head, vein, artery, hands and feet; here we sell conscience and soul; Yes, this is a meat shop. … Here kidney, liver and penis are sold in separate boxes; whole body can be delivered as per customer’s demand; extra price will be charged for love in addition with it; here everything of men is available for men.” (In Ekti Dokan O Tar Biggapon)
When floods came in the northern part of Bangladesh, Nayeem’s land of birth, he saw affected people got together and stretched their hands of cooperation towards one another. They struggled for survival by embracing larger and discarding narrow interests. In contrast, the state just looked on and on without taking effective measures for the victims. NGOs went around not so much to help flood-affected people as to safeguard their own interests.
This helplessness of humanity in the face of predatory capitalism is clearly expressed in Nayeem’s poems. We are passing through a time when the existence of humanity along with nature sustaining life is at peril because of man’s shortsighted desire for immediate gains. The national and global economic systems dominated by international finance organizations and investors in them and the use of the United Nations as a tool in their hands are also touched in some of his poems. This socio-political awareness makes Aunarjo Nayeem a poet apart from others.
His love poem such as Tomar Chulgulo (your hair) also takes a political color. He writes, “Your hair is a published journal; the high rising budget for defense ; … your hair is the border wall; looking at the beauty of the other side from here; the night patrol by the BSF on guard; the unknown bird in still meditation.”
Through his poems, Nayeem presents an analysis of the world we live in, points to its complexities and injustices and celebrates the power and will of humanity to overcome these. But his key problem is over reliance on logic and, perhaps, a shortage of emotional force. If he can mix these two essential elements in a better combination in the future, his poems will be more forceful in their arguments and appeal.
He has composed two love poems for a girl named Sultana. But Nayeem is not fully devoted to the goddess of love as poets usually are. He is more concerned with social issues. The comparative shortage of emotional force in his poems may be justified, however, by the fact of his devotion to the oppressed humanity, which demands calm and hard logic more than outburst of emotion in abundance.
Aunarjo Nayeem’s Dharma Niropekkho Boshonto in Shishir Mallick’s cover design indicates the more powerful poetic expression of the socio-political world around us in the coming years. The beginning of his journey in the world of poetry is full of promises. Readers of poetry will enjoy reading his words in this secular spring.