The unwillingness of the Bangladesh authorities and entities, especially the ones that the government supports such as the Nazrul Institute, to lay their hands on Nazrul memorabilia, as New Age reported on Friday quoting the grandson of Kazi Nazrul Islam, who was brought from India to Bangladesh after its war for independence and was given the status of the national poet, is unpalatable. The poet’s grandson is reported to have offered the rare editions of Nazrul’s books, manuscripts of hundreds of songs, his notebooks containing musical notations, his personal letters and various other articles to the authorities here in the hope that the memorabilia could be better looked after in Bangladesh, where Kazi Nazrul Islam is the national poet and is still immensely popular. As luck would have it, none of the authorities the poet’s grandson approached have so far responded. Although he gave no reasons for this unwillingness or reluctance, even assumed, the poet’s grandson said that he wanted, in exchange for this, a token financial return as he had to spend money on collecting and conserving the memorabilia. This could probably a reason if it was not sheer lackadaisicalness.
This collection, a treasure trove of books, articles and objects, collected over the course of long years by the poet’s grandson, by way of inheritance and purchase, could be a major acquisition for the Bangladesh authorities — the National Museum, the Nazrul Museum set up in 1985 at Kabibhaban in the capital, where the poet spent his last ailing years, or even the universities. Such memorabilia, having a high archival value, could be used for research and could go on display for people to get know the poet more closely. Such a collection could also offer new insights into the poet’s views on various issues. As his reputation rests largely on his work drawn from both Hinduism and Islam, as is reflected in his creation, and a strong opposition to religious bigotry, this could also open new avenues of research on his non-sectarian ideals. The collection could also add value to the Nazrul Museum which is now marked by a conspicuous absence of artefacts from Nazrul’s collection. The museum now boasts of only 52 photographs, an old gramophone, a few xeroxed copies of Nazrul’s manuscripts and novels and some publications that came out when the poet was alive. In the acquisition of this collection, money should, therefore, in no way be an issue.
Memories, however vividly remembered, lose their meanings when they were robbed of context and the acquisition of Nazrul memorabilia, and having them laid before people for viewing, could minimise that chance. The authorities here, under the circumstances, is well advised to buy the collective items of the national poet and to take care of the collection for people and institutions to pride themselves. We need literary legacies and ear such as Nazrul’s to live, forever.