Ghoom Kiney Khai by Kausar Ahmed Chaudhury, Publisher - Madhukunja Prakashani; Year: December 1999
Liton Chakraborty Mithun explores the essence of a rhymer's life as depicted in the poetry.
Kausar Ahmed Chaudhury is a rare combination of multifaceted talent and creativity. He is a familiar figure in the country, mostly thanks to his weekly column titled "Apnar Rashchakra" (Your Horoscope) published in Prothom Alo's weekend magazine Chhutir Dine. A freedom fighter, a lyricist, a script-writer, a painter, an astrologer and a poet: he is multiple characters rolled into one. His debut volume of poems titled Ghoom Kiney Khai published back in 1999 is a testament to his dynamic personality and innovativeness. It bears a full-on picture of the life he has lived up to that juncture and has a moving quality about it.
'Liberation War of Bangladesh' (tagged as Muktijuddho) makes up a big part of Kausar Chaudhury's poetry. A freedom fighter himself, he latches onto the spirit of the great struggle of Bengalis for self-determination. Many of our fellow Bengalis have committed a gross injustice against the ideal of that great episode in our national life. The poet is always ready to cry foul against any blow coming the way of Bangladesh's home of existence, which is Muktijuddho. He does not spare even a fellow freedom fighter (and perhaps, himself) for passivity and cowardice when the fate of the nation is at stake and merits his service.
Baler muktijoddha tumi!
Astroshastro chhurey feley
Jononendriyo ekmatro chepey dhorey
Shuye achho cinhohin chitpat
(You are a worthless freedom fighter!/ Throwing away arms and weapons,/ you are lying flat timidly/ with your hand on the sex organ/ and a cigarette between lips..). You can sense the extent of frustration in the explosive words of the poet in the context of the post-independence situation of the country. In a word, the poet deftly channels his emotions through poetry.
However, Kausar's poetry also delves deep into the idea of poet and poetry. Quite a few of his poems deal with his own involvement in poetry and the role of a poet in society. He goes on to highlight the glorious part poets played in our liberation war. In one of his poems, he says-
Amra jokhon juddhey, juddhokhetrey,
Amader kobira tokhon obhyontorin bodhdhobhumir
Anachey-kanachey bosey ruddhodwar likhey cholechhen
Palta chokh-rangano bipojjonok ishtehar
(While we were in the war and the battle ground, / our red-eyed poets were writing dangerous manifestos of resistance/ sitting somewhere inside the killing grounds.). Furthermore, he speaks highly of the poet's immense power and mojo. He says, 'Kobikey bhoy koro, kobi hotey parey/ Shanto shohorer ek Dr. Jekyll.' (Fear the poet/ since he can be a Dr. Jekyll of a peaceful town.). Alluding to the character of Robert Louis Stevenson 1886 novella Strange Case, he underscores the latent talent and transformative power of the poet. In essence, Kausar Chaudhury is an ardent admirer of his poetic side and the poetry as an art form.
As a matter of fact, romanticism is an ingredient of his poetry. Nostalgia nourishes his romantic self. He takes a regular trip down memory lane and celebrates his long-lost days. Hence, he cherishes the memory of his ancestral home and says:
Notun kena jomir tukrota
Mone porena - jekhaney jora talgachh,
Mogojey bosey thakey shoishober bosotbati;
Train-ey uthley ticket-ey lekha thakey: 198 mile.
(I cannot recall the newly-bought patch of land. / [Rather I recall] the twin palm trees/ and the home of my childhood lodged in the head; / the train ticket too that read '198 miles'.) Moreover, the poet eulogizes the beauty of his beloved and explores love. Carried away with emotion, he discovers unparalleled charm in his beloved's gestures. He likewise observes, 'tokhon shey shudhu nishpap osohay takiye thake, nishchup, / tar probol roptanijoggo duti chokh meley.' (Then she looks helpless and silent / with her very export-quality eyes.).
You can sense an obvious euphoria in the romantically-charged poet as he utters these lines. After Jibanananda Das's famous image of "eyes as a bird's nest", this is perhaps the best 'eye-image' in Bengali poetry. In addition, Kausar Ahmed Chaudhury's volume of poems titled Ghoom Kiney Khai is stylistically resourceful. His diction is excellent, and he uses everyday expressions with the sheer stroke of a craftsman.
He employs slang words and phrases to a great effect. In quite a few poems, he conjugates adjacent words and breaks several individual words into smaller chunks. This poetic experiment pays off as the puzzling poems, in my opinion, force the reader into thinking them through. On top of that, there is a brilliant medley of images in the volume that leaves the reader impressed. Moreover, the volume is content-wise and thematically a throwback to the Bangladesh of the eighties and the nineties of last century. You can experience the zeitgeist of that period in the country's history if you go through the book.
This is, however, not to say that the collection is a huge literary success. Some of the poems fail to impress, and the poet seems to be crying out repeatedly that he is a poet. In the same fashion, some poems are simply marked by their sentimental flight and require smart handling. In my opinion, a little bit of tweaking could have saved them.
To wrap it up, Kausar Ahmed Chaudhury is very much a poetry material. Although some of his poems are half-hatched and lacking in organic and thematic unity, he has got the potential to establish his poetic profile. To speak the truth, the volume Ghoom Kiney Khai has offered me nuggets of insight into the most volatile period of Bangladesh's history. I am wowed with some of the fresh poetic utterances available in the book. However, I am not sure whether Kausar Chaudhury brought out any further volume henceforward. Nevertheless, it is my belief that If he takes up poetry seriously, our literature will surely benefit from his service.
The reviewer is a regular contributor to the Asian Age. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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