Any epithet for poet Al Mahmud is redundant, who wished to die on a peaceful, holy Friday in his touching poem Smritir Meghlabhore. The poet passed away on Friday night leaving his constellation of works in different genres of literature behind.
A poet of Mahmud’s stature, whose poems have enticed readers of not only Bangladesh but also Bengali-speaking people and poem-lovers all across the world, will live forever in his poems, said fellow poets and readers.
Beginning humbly with Lok Lokantare, his first collection of poems in 1963, Al Mahmud gradually found his own voice that made him markedly different and conspicuous soon. With following collections like Kaler Kalosh, Sonali Kabin, Mayabi Parda Dule Utho and others, Mahmud imperceptibly got his name printed in readers’ minds.
After the death of the poet, readers have been showering their love and respect for the poet sharing his poems on social media. Fellow poets and readers also repented that the state and cultural organisations including Jatiya Kobita Parishad and Sammilita Sangskritik Jote, which customarily organises public mourning programmes for artistes and writers, did not organise due mourning programmes for the poet, also a freedom fighter.
When asked Sammilita Sangskritik Jote president Ghulam Kuddus said that no one from Mahmud’s family contacted SSJ. ‘Nobody from Al Mahmud’s family contacted us so we could not take any decision. When some journalists raised the issue, it was too late to organise a public mourning programme,’ said Quddus.
Jatiya Kobita Parshid president poet-professor Muhammad Samad was very candid in explaining why Jatiya Kobita Parishad did not pay tribute to the poet.
‘From the inception of Jatiya Kobita Parishad, which was formed as a platform to fight the then autocratic ruler of the 1980s, Al Mahmud was against our spirit. Moreover, his inclination towards fundamentalist politics created an irrevocable distance between us, which is why Jatiya Kobita Parishad did not participate in or organise any mourning programme,’ said Samad, who, however, expressed his love for Mahmud’s poems.
‘It is very disheartening to see that Al Mahmud’s body was not taken to the Central Shaheed Minar for public mourning. I am also saddened to see that our cultural icons and senior poets did not come to pay tribute to Mahmud, whose poetry is a reflection of Bangladesh,’ said poet Zahangir Feroz.
‘Though the establishment has failed to pay due homage to Mahmud, his readers have to return to his poems time and again,’ added Feroz.
‘Mahmud’s poems are distinctly local. Bangladesh, its landscape, its people, animals and birds flock together in his poems evoking the age-old flow of life and living of people in this part of the world,’ said poet Muhammad Nurul Huda.
‘Mahmud’s poems also show a sharp inclination to incorporate ideas and thoughts. His success and power lie in presenting his cutting observations and emotions in his very well-developed dreamy diction,’ added Huda.
Poet Habibullah Siraji, also Bangla Academy director general, said, ‘A poet of Al Mahmud’s stature will never die. His poems and prose will entice us always’.
After a long life lived to the fullest and dedicated to literature, the ‘sonali kabin’ (golden contract) of the poet with the world has ended and the poet, to recall one of his famous poems, Pratyabartaner Lajja (The Shame of Return), will embrace his mother in his burial to erase all his shame, defeat and wounds.
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