বৃহস্পতিবার, ২৬ ডিসেম্বর, ২০১৩

Dr. Humayun Azad (1947-2004)

Dr. Humayun Azad (1947-2004)
Humayun Azad (Rari Khal,Vikrampur, Bangladesh, 28 April 1947 - Munich, Germany, 12 August 2004) was a prolific Bangladeshi author and scholar. He wrote more than 70 books including 10 novels, 7 collections of poetry, 7 books of comparative literature and 2 books for children. Azad received the prestigious Bangla Academy Award (1996) and the Shishu Academy Award for his contributions in both adult and children literature.
Dr. Azad got his doctorate degree in linguistics in 1976 at the University of Edinburgh. He later served as a professor of Bangla at the University of Dhaka and in his early career produced pioneering works on Bangla linguistics, notably Bangla semantics. He was regarded as the most important living linguist of the one-thousand-year-old Bangla language. Later in his career, especially during General Ershad's rule, he became well-known as a liberal socio-political critic as he wrote biting commentaries against the dictatorship in local magazines. His commentaries continued throughout the 1990s and were later published as books as they grew in numbers. A freethinker and an atheist, he fearlessly and openly criticized in his works the extremism in religions, including Islam, the major religion in Bangladesh.
Dr. Azad also published the first comprehensive book in Bangla on the subject of women called Naari (Bangla for "Woman") in 1992. In this monumental tome, Azad painstakingly compiled the feminist ideas of the west that underlie the feminist contributions of the subcontinent's socio-political reformers and exposed the anti-women stance of some legendary Bengali writers including Rabindranath Tagore. The work, critical of the patriarchal and male-chauvinistic attitude of religions towards women, attracted negative reaction from conservative censors and the Bangladeshi Government banned the book in 1995. The ban was eventually lifted in 2000, following a legal battle Azad won in the High Court.
On February 27, 2004, he was the victim of a vicious assassination attempt by unidentified assailants in broad daylight on the campus of the University of Dhaka. As he was returning to his Fuller Road residence from the yearly book fair held at the Bangla Academy premises, the assailants stopped him on the road and hacked at his neck and face with machetes and later used bombs to disperse the crowd who tried to rescue him. He subsequently fell into a life-threatening coma for four days, but eventually survived after receiving intensive treatment at the Combined Military Hospital in Dhaka. He then went to Singapore for further treatment of his critically damaged face. The incident created a huge backlash among the progressive liberals in the society and the public in general who were apalled at the lack of secuity that made this attack on one of the most renowned scholars in the country possible. The students of the university were especially agitated at this heinous crime against their beloved teacher on their very own campus and marched processions in protest.
The assassination attempt took place following the publication of his novel Pak Sar Jamin Saad Baad, a story based on religious groups in Bangladesh who collaborated with the Pakistani army during the 1971 independence war. In it he tried to expose the attitudes and activities of the Islamists and the nationalists in Bangladesh. He simulated a scenario that vividly portrayed fanatic and barbaric nature of these groups. Afterwards, Dr. Azad expressed that he had suffered severe mental trauma since the attack, but he also vowed to continue writing against the rise of Islamists in Bangladesh.
Islamists in Bangladesh, on the other hand, condemned the assassination attempt but simultaneously claimed that the novel injured the sentiments of the majority. They demanded that the novel be banned and a blasphemy law be passed so that no such book could be published in the future, a reaction not too dissimilar to their treatment of his earlier Naari.
On August 11, 2004, Dr. Azad was found dead in his apartment in Munich, Germany, where he had moved just a week prior to conduct research on the nineteenth century German romantic poet Heinrich Heine. Azad's family in Bangladesh refused to acknowledge the German police force's primary conclusions, which indicated a natural death.
A summary of his work as a teacher and a writer with a few references:
Dr Azad was a versatile, prolific, and non-conformist writer in Bangladesh. He was simultaneously a poet, a novelist, a critic, a linguist, a political analyst, an essayist, and also an author of quite a few books for children. Two of his books have been translated and published in Japanese language. He was an outspoken feminist as well and had written the only definitive book on woman in Bengali literature named Nari (the Women); which was banned in 1985 by the then military regime. Dr. Azad, however, went to the High Court of the country, and won the case in 2001. So far, he had published about 70 books; a short list of which is given below:
Poetry:973 Alaukik Istimar (The Unearthly Steamer)
1980 Jvalo Chitabagh (The Panther, Burn)
1985 Shab Kichu Nastader Adhikare Yabe (Everything will go to the Possession of the Worst)
1986 Yatoi Gabhire Yai Madhu Yatoi Opare Yai Nil (Honey as I go Deeper It is Blue as I go Upper)
1990 Ami Benchechilam Anyader Shamaye (I Lived in Other People's Time)
1993 Shreshtha Kabita (The Best Poems)
1998 Kaphane Mora Asrubindu (Tears Wrapped in a Shroud)
1998 Kabyashangraha (Collected Poems)
2004 Peronor Kichu Nei (There is Nothing More to Cross)

Novels and Short Stories:
1994 Chappanno Hajar Bargamail (Fifty Six Thousand Square Miles)
1995 Shab Kichu Bhenge Pare (Things Fall Apart)
1996 Manush Hishebe Amar Aparadhsamuha (My Sins as a Man)
1997 Yadukarer Mritya (Death of the Magician)
1998 Shubhabrata, Tar Shamparkita Shushamachar (Shubhabrata, and His Gospel)
1999 Rajnitibidgan (The Politicians)
2000 Nijer Shange Nijer Jibaner Madhu (The Honey One's Own life with Himself)
2001 Phali Phali Kare Kata Chand (The Moon Sliced into Pieces)
2001 Upanyashshangraha V0l 1 (Collected Novels Vol 1)
2002 Shrabaner Brishtite Raktajaba (China Roses in the Shraban Rain)
2002 Upanyashshangraha V0l 2 (Collected Novels Vol 2)
2003 10,000, ebang Aro 1ti Dharshan (10,00, and 1 More Rapes)
2004 Pak Sar Jamin Sad Bad (The Sacred Blessed Land)
2004 Ekti Khuner Svapna (Dreaming of a Murder)

Research and Critical Works
1973 Rabindraprabandha/Rastra O Shamajchinta (Socio-Political Thought in Rabindranath's Essays)
1983 Shamsur Rahman/ Nisshanga Sherpa (Shamsur Rahman, the Lonely Mountain Climber)
1987 Shilpakalar Bimanabikikaran O Anyanya Prabandha (Dehumanization of Art and Other Essays)
1990 Bhasha-Andolan : Shahityik Patabhumi ( The Literary Background of the Language Movement)
1992 Nari (Woman: This book was banned by the government, and later freed by the Highcourt)
1992 Pratikryashilatar Dirgha Chayar Niche (Under the Long Shadow of Reactionary Thought)
1992 Nibir Nilima (The Azure Sky)
1992 Matal Tarani (The Drunken Boat)
1992 Narake Ananta Ritu (Innumerable Seasons in Hell)
1992 Jalpairanger Andhakar (Olive-colored Darkness)
1993 Shimabaddhatar Shutra (Rules of Limitations)
1993 Adhhar O Adheya (Form and Content)
1997 Amar Abishvash (My Unbelief)
1999 Nirbachita Prabandha (Selected Essays)
2001 Dvitiya Linga (A Translation of Simone de Beauvoir's The Second Sex)
2003 Amra Ki Ei Bangladesh Cheyechilam (Did We Want This Bangladesh)
2004 Dharmanubhutir Upakatha o Anyanya (Myth of Religious Sentiment and Others)

Works on Linguistics
1983 Pronominalization in Bengali
1983 Bangla Bhashar Shatrumitra (Friends and Foes of the Bangla Language)
1984 Bakyatattva (Syntax)
1984 Bangla Bhasha (Vol 1) (The Bangla Language)
1985 Bangla Bhasha (Vol 2) (The Bangla Language)
1988 Tulanamulak O Aitihashik Bhashabignan (Comparative and Historical Linguistics)
1999 Arthabignan (Semantics)
Juvenile Literature
1985 Phuler Gandhe Ghum Ase Na (The Scent of the Flowers does not let Me Sleep)
1989 Abbuke Mane Pare (I Remember My Father)
The Islamists had been against him for the last twenty years for his views on religion. His books Amar Abishwas (My Unbelief), and recently published novel Pak Sar Jamin Sad Bad (The Blessed Sacred Land) that depicted the atrocities of the Islamist fundaments in Bangladesh angered them profusely and they decided to offer a fatwa to kill him on the charge of apostasy. They attempted to kill him on February 27, 2004, but Dr Azad had survived the deadly attack after remaining in coma for four days. Fundamentalist were all along active, they wanted to kill him and eliminate his family too. Dr. Azad revealed his anxiety in his open letter to the Prime Minister, leader of the main opposition, and compatriots.
Professor Azad was a beacon of both hope and light in the dreadful time for a nation that is probably undergoing the worst period since the history of its birth in 1971. Crucial question now is: with that ray of light being extinguished, whatever little hope we saw in the horizon; will it now wither away? Our answer is a straight 'No!' for a pessimistic tone would NOT be the right tribute to this brave hero. Readers could recall- fearing loss of his life, recently, we, on behalf of Mukto-Mona, contacted Dr. Azad and asked- if he needed any kind of asylum for himself and his family outside Bangladesh. "No! I am not an escapist! I cannot yield to mediocre mullah's pressure. I will not leave my country to their advantage." Such was his courage! Such was his determination. While on one hand, he was having a tough time dealing with sick and mad gang of mullahs; nevertheless, on the other hand, he fearlessly continued criticizing mullahs with such candid statements as "with Saudi Arab's money Jamayat is conducting terror across the country", "Mosques, the holy places of worships, are being converted into an industry of producing religious fanatics."
Dr Azad was a popular teacher from the very beginning, and his students consider him the best teacher they ever had. Dr Azad was a fluent speaker; he spoke his own inimitable Bangla, which made him immensely popular. There was almost an uprise of students and the public in Bangladesh in the aftermath of his attack by the Islamist on February 27, 2004. Mukto-Mona had several mail exchanges with Dr. Azad in recent times and the above information was composed based on those exchanges.

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