Rongo bhora Bongo (Humor-packed Bengal) by Rafiq Hasan, published by Abishkar Prokashoni, Dhaka in October 2016
Rongobhora Bongo (Humor-packed Bengal) is poet Rafiq Hasan's latest poetic feat with an innovative approach to the metrical patterns of poetry. As far as rhymes are concerned, we have always seen couplets with corresponding rhymes which jingle identically with the ending words of two lines in a poem.
But in Rongobhora Bongo Rafiq Hasan has applied an unconventional style. He has conjured up rhymes at the beginning as well as at the end of each line. It goes without saying this experiment with poetry is not at all an easy job. By successfully exercising this virtually unprecedented metrical structure, Rafiq Hasan has exposed his dexterity as a poet in a striking way.
To write a few words about Rafiq Hasan, he studied Mass Communication and Journalism in Dhaka University. He has similar proficiency in writing poetry, essays and translations. During his professional career, Rafiq Hasan has worked for The Daily Star and Independent.
Currently he is holding the post of Assistant Editor in The Asian Age, a prominent English daily newspaper. He is a lifelong member of National Press Club. He was born in 1969 at Nazirpur in Pirojpur district, as stated in his brief life-sketch inside this book.
The title of the book Rongobhora Bongo bears indications about its content. A lot of things happening around us have been illustrated in this book in a humorous and sarcastic ways. While talking about literature with humor and mockery, names of some timeless poets and authors come up in our memory.
Alexander Pope, Aristophanes, Cervantes, Jonathan Swift, Sukumar Roy and some more classical litterateurs wrote groundbreaking poems, plays and stories to poke fun at the anomalies in their societies. Actually, literature with a leaning towards fun and jest always upholds the noble aim of social reforms.
Funny depictions are added to poetry and prose in order to make these things more entertaining and attractive to readers. Rafiq Hasan, to a broad extent, has done the same thing in the poems furnished on the pages of Rongobhora Bongo. Some eye-catching sketches throughout the book have made his poetic messages highly vibrant and penetrative.
The first poem of the book "Bongonama" (A Tale of Bengal) jingles with a lovely patriotic flavor paying a poetic tribute to the natural beauty and delicacies of Bengal. The capitalistic world order and its unsympathetic vision of life is narrated in another poem titled "Bishwa (The World)".
The perilous circumstances incurred by industrial expansion are also highlighted in this poem. Natural resources around the planet are under grim threats due to so-called industrialization is a very moving theme in this poem which makes us look at the damages caused by machines and instruments to forests, birds and wildlife across the globe.
Another poem under the name "Banker Kerani" (A Bank's Clerk) touches upon the hardships and absurdities confronted by people with limited earnings.
The joy and celebrations of Eid festivals are portrayed in "Eid Eshechhey" (Eid Has Arrived). People forget all social barriers during Eid holidays and embrace each other with love and cordiality.
It's a valuable message conveyed by the poet which reminds us about our social responsibility to overcome discrimination and to view all human beings equally. Social variation is a very big hurdle in the current world. Rafiq Hasan did not forget to cover this point while writing this book. He deserves applause for this humanitarian outlook.
The history, present circumstances, popular food items and lifestyle of Dhaka city have been beautifully described by the poet in the poem titled "Dhaka". On one hand, people of Dhaka enjoy the delicious foodstuff of the city while on the other hand they have to struggle very hard for survival. This contrast signifies the mechanized living condition in many megacities of the world where people have to exist in the middle of both hazards and happiness.
The importance of national solidarity has been stressed through the poem "Ekota" which means unity in English. We can restore peace and speed up the country's prosperity by working in a consolidated way with the spirit of unity. By emphasizing on the value of fraternity and nationwide alliance, poet Rafiq Hasan has made efforts to serve his duty as a conscious and dutiful citizen of Bangladesh. Some tragic issues have been also picked up by the poet.
For example, in a poem titled "Launch Dubi" (Launch Capsize) refers to mishaps involving river-way transports which cause deaths of common people. Such accidents are very painful. That's why the poet tried to draw attention from the concerned authorities to take drastic actions to avoid this sort of casualties.
Avocations of editors and media agencies have been amusingly rhymed in two poems named "Shompadok" (Editor) and "Media Men". Rafiq Hasan has also denounced the vicious activities of so-called godfathers and underworld people.
The unlawful things done by criminals and terrorists have highly negative effects on a country, the poet tells us through his verses. Humor is not always practiced for light pleasure. Humor in literature has comprehensive roles to play for social betterment.
I have found conspicuous reflections of this idea in most of the poems in Rongobhora Bongo. Let's hope poet Rafiq Hasan's pen will go on creating more poems, stories and write-ups for entertaining us and for deepening the aesthetic epistles of Bengali literature.
The reviewer is a columnist
for The Asian Age