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Mauli Azad, daughter of Humayun Azad Courtesy
Eminent Professor and multi-dimensional unconventional writer of Bangla Literature Humayun Azad is my beloved father. We lost him 11 years back. But still now his writings are shining among his followers and admirers from all walks of life for his unique style, free-thinking and impartial writings. For those who are liberal, open-minded and free-thinkers, Azad’s writings are still sources of inspiration, and psychological support in gaining moral strength as well.
As his eldest daughter, I have seen him from a close distance at home - experienced a lot of sweet times with him, and that’s what I would like to share with all his fans and admirers today, April 26, 2018.
My father Humayun Azad’s first love was his village Rarikhal. He visited many countries in the world, but I never heard him express anything appreciating the life in Europe or America ever. Instead of that he used to talk gladly about his village home Rarikhal and his childhood in Rarikhal. He used to present those memories in his poems and other writings about the beauty of unknown muddy roads, rural flowers, foggy winters, rainfall, sunshine, green fields, rivers, memories of his school life and growing time in the village that remained blended within his heart from the very beginning his life.
As an urban citizen, born and brought up in Dhaka city, village life didn’t attract me ever as much as my beloved father was devoted to it. But I became amazed and overwhelmed with the beauty of village-life and the rich rural culture reading his heartiest descriptions (especially after his death) in his book “Phuler ghondhe ghum asena”. While he was alive, Rarikhal was not in my heart as it is today - today my thinking has changed a lot. Now I love Rarikhal as my father loved it, because he is back in his sweet village Rarikhal now and that was his final destination and the place of eternal rest.
He used to say, after retirement from university teaching he would go back to Rarikhl and stay there for the rest of his life. Surprisingly it happened years before his retirement - he reached his village Rarikhal. Death has taken the great warrior son to his long desired soil of Rarikhal again.
Rarikhal was his first love and Dhaka University occupied second place in his heart. He studied there, developed philosophically there and eventually taught hundreds of young students there. He used to admit that Dhaka University was the place where he could take a breath of fresh air. Most of his books were written while he was staying on campus.
When he was alive, I couldn’t understand how much effort he used to put in completing a book. But now when I read his books in detail, I realize how much he concentrated on his studies and writings at the same time.
He wrote many articles and columns in the weekly “Purbavash” and “Ajker kajog” during the 1990’s. I used to enjoy his newspaper columns because of his simplicity with language. But he didn’t continue writing in the newspapers. When I asked him why he stopped, he replied, “I’ll be getting busy with the publication of books and I have to concentrate there”. So he didn’t want to waste his time in writing newspaper columns only. Among all his writings, my favorite were his creations for juvenile literature. In the introduction of this book “Phuler Ghondhe Ghum Ashena” he wrote - “Mauli Tomake Boli, Tomar Motoi Ami Chilam Choto, Chilam Grame.” Almost all his fans became familiar with my name through this book. It was a matter of great pleasure for me. Although I loved my father’s articles, columns and poems, his novels didn’t attract me that time. After reading his novels later on it seemed to me that he portrayed our fragile and deteriorating social structure so carefully.
He gave his highest efforts in writing his famous book “Nari.” He decided to write the feminist book while he was conducting his PhD research in Edinburg. When he returned home from Scotland, he brought back many books with him for helping him with the writing of NARI. I remember he took leave from the university for writing this book. In a true sense he was a real feminist - feminism was a favorite topic in all his writings.
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People used to mention the term “unconventional” before his name. It was his natural instinct to see anything from a different angle. My parents’ marriage was also a bit unconventional in all respects. They got married over telephone in 1975. Moreover, the very significant aspect of his life is that, he changed his real name and took a penname - he became “Humayun Azad” from “Humayun Kabir”. And he continued writing as “Humayun Azad” till the end of his life.
As the eldest daughter, I had freedoms in all stages of my life because of my father. I learned a lot from him and developed decision making capability in order to apply it independently, which is not possible for many educated women in our society still.
His philosophy and ideology were pragmatic and advanced compared to others of his time. He wrote in his poem “Ami je Prithibike Cheyechilam, Take ami Paini. Tokhono amar Shomoy Asheni. Ami Bechechilam Onnoder Shomoye”. Sometimes I feel he really did live during the time of others.
I never saw him express regret for any posts or rewards. He was straightforward and never talked to please anyone. Sometimes I used to become surprised to see his courage. I asked him once “How do you get this courage”? He answered, “I don’t want anything from anybody. What I need I acquire myself, so I don’t need to praise anyone”.
That’s why close people around him became his enemies to a great extent. Sometimes I used to regret that his surroundings were decreasing gradually because of his bitterly truthful and straight-forward philosophy. But when he was attacked, people burst out and took to the street like floods in Dhaka city in the middle of the night. People came out and reacted together in favor of honesty and truth, and that was tremendous. They did it for a writer like Humayun Azad who was forever a broad-minded, honest and courageous.
Bangladesh was always in his heart. That’s why he wrote, “Priyotoma Bangladesher Kotha tumi Kokhono amar kache Jante Cheona, Ami ta Muhurteo Shojjo korte Parina, Tar onek Karon roeache.”
Today is his 72th birthday. I can see his smiling face always standing before me and asking me about my well being. So it’s not possible for me or my family to celebrate this occasion, since we still cannot accept his premature demise at the peak of his powers. Therefore, only tears are rolling down my cheeks today.
My heartiest gratitude and love to him on his birth anniversary.