Poet Kazi Nazrul Islam recognises women as the driving force of this world. In his poem titled `Nari’ (Women), Kazi Nazrul Islam has asserted that women have equal share in all the great deeds of this world. The age old tradition of blaming women for the first sin has also been addressed by the poet. He places his arguments that the devil had committed the sin and for that men and women have to take equal responsibility.
This matter of sharing responsibility is what Nazrul has tried to establish not only through the poem titled `Nari’ but in many other poems. He has given the utmost honour to women by equating her to fire, fire which has the ability to destroy as well as to create. In recent times we heard Bishop Curry’s sermons at the wedding of Prince Harry and Megan (May 2018). His speech was based on love and fire and how fire encompasses the ability to love and create and why it is so important in our lives.
Poet Kazi Nazrul Islam has spoken about this in the early ‘30s. Through his song `Jago nari jago bonhishikha’, Nazrul likens women to fire and it is one of the most powerful coinage of thoughts supporting feminism, the power of women (Jago hotobhagini,dhorshita nagini). He lends his inspiration to women who are raped and who are desolate, something like the `Me too’ movement during such early years when the concept of feminism was new to the Indian subcontinent.
In another song, ‘Gune gorimay amader nari adorsho duniayay’ (In talents and virtues our women are exemplary), he glorifies the women in the Muslim world, providing accolades for Razia Sultana, Khaleda, Chand Sultana, Jebunnesa, Sakina and Khawala and others.
In this song he advocates for the removal of the `purdah’ (segregation). According to Nazrul, purdah puts women behind the veil and impedes the flow of light. It takes women to dark ages and plunges them backwards.
Nazrul talks about ‘social responsibility’. He was fully aware about the social negligence which has led women to adopt prostitution as their means of living. He says that through our collective failure as a nation, we have failed to provide women with the welfare and security which they so fully deserve. To hate the crime and not point a finger at the criminal who was forced to be this way. He cries for thousands of desolate women on the street who are beggars and whose children are street children, In an editorial titled ‘Temple and Mosque’ (published around 1926) for his magazine Dhumketu (The comet), he narrates the story of a beggar woman who carries a child and the dead child is then thrown into the dustbin. Nazrul looks at the men walking around the streets, he thinks to himself that perhaps one of them is the father of this child, he has taken no responsibility, while this poor woman bears it all. His empathy and apathy for women is unparalleled as he places them in the highest position in this world and believed in their innate strength. The times he lived in were very difficult times for women who were bereft of education and facilities to develop themselves. In the modern world, where all privileges are rife, we are yet to achieve the full fledged glory of women, which Nazrul had portrayed in the poem Nari.
The writer is an academic, Nazrul exponent and translator.
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