Shawkat Osman

Published:  12:38 AM, 11 August 2018

A great contributor of Bengali literature

A great contributor of  Bengali literature

Shawkat Osman was a Bangladeshi novelist, short story writer and educationist. His real name was Sheikh Azizur Rahman; Shawkat Osman was his pen name. 

Osman's first prominent novel was Janani. Janani (Mother) is a portrait of the disintegration of a family because of the rural and urban divide. In Kritadaser Hasi (Laugh of a Slave), Osman explores the darkness of contemporary politics and the reality of dictatorship.

Osman was born on 2 January 1917 in Sabalsinghapur, Hughli, West Bengal. His father was Sheikh Mohammad Yehia.   He passed MA in Bangla in 1941 from Calcutta University. Earlier, in 1936, he worked briefly as a clerk in the Calcutta Corporation. After completing his MA he taught at Government Commercial College. 

He migrated to East Pakistan in 1947, in the wake of partition, and joined Chittagong College of Commerce. In 1959 he joined Dhaka College, from where he retired in 1972. He also worked in the Krishak for some time.

Though Shawkat Osman is mainly known as a novelist and short story writer, he also wrote in a number of other genres such as essays, plays, humorous writings, memoirs and books for children. 

His popular novels include Janani (The Mother, 1958), Kritadaser Hasi (The Laughter of a Slave, 1962), Samagam (The Gathering, 1967), Chaurasandhi (Friendship with Thieves, 1968), Raja Upakhyan (Stories of Kings, 1971), Nekde Aranya (Wolves' Forest, 1973), Manib O Tahar Kukur (The Master and His Dog, 1986), Ishvarer Pratidvandvi (Contestant of God, 1990) etc. 

His essays have been collected in Sangskrtir Chadai Utrai (Upheavals of Culture, 1985), Muslim Manaser Rupantar (Changes in Muslim Thought, 1986), etc. He also wrote a number of plays: Amlar Mamla (Suits by Bureaucrats, 1949), Purna Svadhinata Churna Svadhinata (Total Independence Shattered Independence, 1990). 

His writings for children include Oten Saheber Banglo (Mr Oten's Cottage, 1944), Mosquito Phone (Phone for Mosquitoes, 1957), Ksude Socialist (The Little Socialist, 1973), Pavchasabgi (The Five Companions, 1987). He was also a humorist, as for example, in Nijasva Sangbaddata Prerita (Sent by the Staff Correspondent, 1982).

In his novel Nekde Aranya, based on the war of liberation, he depicts the oppressions of the Pakistan army on the people of Bangladesh. 

Shawkat Osman wrote some memoirs, among them Svajan Sanggram (Kinsman's Struggle, 1986), Kalratri Khandachitra (A Partial Picture of a Dangerous Night, 1986), Anek Kahan (Too Many Speeches, 1991) etc. 

He also translated a large number of novels, short stories and plays into Bangla. Among some of his translated books are Nisho (1948-49), Luknitashi (1948), Bagdader Kavi (1953), Time Machine (1959) etc.

Shawkat Osman was a staunch supporter of Bengali culture and strongly protested against autocracy and religious fundamentalism. 

Though he was not politically active, he was outspoken in his political opinions. He received many awards from the government of Pakistan, among them, the Bangla Academy Award (1962), Adamjee Literary Award (1966), President Award (1967). 

He was also given a number of awards by the government of Bangladesh: the Ekushey Padak (1983), Mahbubullah Foundation Prize (1983), Muktadhara Literary Award (1991), and Independence Day Award (1997). He died in Dhaka on 14 May 1998.

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