The bard of Bengal: Nazrul


If there were to be a name synonymous to fearless righteous rebellion and prolific emotional connections, that is Nazrul’s, Bengal’s romantic bidrohi.

But to me, at least through his writings, he is a complete man. Be it his naughty child thief–self seeping through the rhymes of Lichu-chor, or the voice of a gentle soul disturbed by the daily troubles of a society’s disenfranchised in Kuli-mojur, who then roars into rebellion to declare— Ami shei din hobo shanto, jobey utpeeriter krondon-rol akash e batash e dhonibey na (I will rest when the screams of the suppressed no longer resonate in the air). He is also the romantic who binds the love of nature, and the adoration for his lady love in Mor priya hobe esho rani, debo khopa’y tarar phool (Let me make you a queen my dearest, with stars in your hair.) Or the aggrieved father, Shunno e-bukey pakhi mor aye firey aye, torey na heriya shokaler phool okaley jhoriya jae (Come back to my bereft heart, my little bird, the morning bloom withers too quickly for not seeing you), or Ghumiye geche shanto hoey more gaan-er bulbuli (My song-bird is sleeping quietly) … 

The rebel’s call 

The most often and easily recognisable aspect of Nazrul, especially for the psyche of the Bengali nation, has been the unapologetic and unwavering rebel in him. Having lived through the waning sun of the British colonial rule in India, and after serving in the British troops in World War I, the poet emerged, rich in his experiences and learnings of languages, literature and music from his diverse battalion mates. Once back from service, in 1920, he became a journalist, his foray into literature truly began, in Kolkata. Even in that he was a trailblazer, introducing ghazals to Bangla, and adding words from other languages like Persian, which hitherto had not been done intentionally.

But experiences or exposure alone could not make him the literary behemoth that he is today, or the inspiration that he was, throughout the fight, against the British, as well as the Liberation War. He personifies the common man, in our passions, in our tribulations, but grants our emotions the lucid expressions with eloquence we would be hard pressed to find otherwise. Especially when these emotions pertain to freedom from oppression and dignity of life. Forever in dissent, and clear in his position against the oppressive state in collusion with the often spineless native elite, he wrote while free, and while incarcerated, always the revolutionary. His spirit, and the depth of his emotions in these poems are universal in nature, just as oppression and human dignity are. And so, his poems consisting of a critique of the tyrannical social order, its categorical rejection, and then a call to arms, or protest, is a siren’s song for all of lesser privilege, all around the world. He speaks for all those who work for and hope for a better world order, but even more vehemently, with a spirit that is not scared of sacrifice:

Have no fear!

The flood deluge will soon overtake the universe.

The final hour is fast drawing near.

The rotting old and the dying decrepit

will now be wiped out for good.

(Translation collected)

The Daily Star for more

Comments are closed.