Most of the presentations were informative, and only a few mundane, but the reason why I remember this program so vividly is because of a comment that was so grotesquely off limit that I almost chocked in disbelief when I heard it. That day, a renowned professor who is an expert on French psychoanalytical theorist Jacques Lacan got on stage to claim that Elias is too difficult to read. Elias has been labeled as difficult by many, and, sometimes, for appropriate reasons. But can stylistic difficulty be used as a normative category for measuring literary value? Before casually labeling something as "difficult", we need to carefully consider why certain people find certain things difficult. When it comes to Elias, I feel, we have to pay less attention to this discussion about difficulty, and focus more on both his innovative language and radical thematic content.
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In the context of the novels of Bangladesh, he is possibly the second person highest acclaimed after Syed Waliullah both of whom wrote the least Waliullah wrote only there novels and with their small numbers could win the majority readership of Bangla language with their creativity and their novelty.
Akhtaruzzaman Elias started his literary career with the volume of short stories Anya Ghore Anya Swar in , though before it his Chilekothar Sepai began to be published serially in a national daily. By then he came in limelight as a serious and committed fiction writer.
In his another volume of short stories Khoanri was published. His literary creation got an official acclamation when in the year he was honoured with the Bangla Academy Literary Award.
After two years his third volume of short stories Dudh Bhate Utpat came into light in The year accorded Elias with the Alawol Literary Award. In his fourth volume of short stories Dhojokher Om was brought out. During the last months of he felt very sick which resulted the detection of cancer in the right leg. On March 20, , he had to undergo an operation on his leg, which was later on cut off from his body. The authority of Ananda Award of Kolkata felt honoured to award Elias for his great novel Khoabnama in April of the same year.
On January 04, Elias died. Jaal Swapno, Swapner Jaal, a collection of stories and Sanskritir Bhanga Setu, a collection of essays were published posthumously in the same year of his death. It is worthy to mention that Chilekothar Sepai evolves from the time before the liberation — when the upsurge of the mass movement raged through the whole Bangali nation.
Some ten years after the publication of Chilekothar Sepai, Khoabnama came out where the context of the time of the novel is set before the pre-partition period of the sub- continent. It is known that before his death, he was wandering over a plot for another novel, that, he planned, would take the ancient Bogra i.
Pundranagar as its set and the thousand-year-old history of Bogra as its theme. Elias could not be able to make his dream a reality, but we can realize his power to portray the reality in dream for which Khoabnama is an outstanding example.
But before its climax, the division of Pakistan and India, which was later on unanimously acknowledged as a result of political selfishness, shattered the long-felt dream of the mass people. The question of Pakistan-India division created a deep-rooted rift in the relationship of the Hindu-Muslim communal harmony. Like the other states of undivided India, Bangla also experienced a harsh time of communal riot — that commenced first in Kolkata and afterwards spread throughout all the parts of Bangla.
Huge bloodshed and migration were the usual consequences of the whole incident. Akhtaruzzaman Elias has delineated this infamous time with his mighty pen. Through the story of different families and communities of the locality he has manipulated his ideals. But it may be easily imagined that Elias does not narrate the story — though the existence of any story in Khoabnama is not beyond question. The novel opens with Tamijer Bap Father of Tamij — his real name is never exposed and in the very first paragraph the myths related to Tomijer Bap and Munshi Boytullah Shah and the nearly locality come forth.
Tamijer Bap lives a mysterious life and socially he is believed to be a mysterious man also. When the story says that Hundreds of years before Boytullah Shah fought with British soldiers on his way to Mahasthan, the intermingle of history with the myth is created.
In the inter-weaving of history and myth, the presence of reality is also felt. We get the description of the villages, their people and geography, their modes of life also. Throughout the whole novel this blending of myth, history and reality takes the upper hand.
In the novel Tamij may be considered as a significant character who shares most of the incidents of Khoabnama indirectly or directly, familially or socially. Thus Tamij is the member of such a family tradition in which the other two members are never cent percent normal. With such an unreal and dream-like time the story opens when due to the Second World War prices of all commodities are going up rapidly and the effects of it are touching even the agrarian village life.
Famine and massacre of hundreds of thousands of people are the two common results of that War. Before settling down in a peaceful situation the Tebhaga movement starts. Tamij and many of his fellow men are inspired by this movement but the unfortunate incidents like Hindu- Muslims riot and Separation of India cause meteoric change in their belief and deeds. And thus true dreams of the common people of this sail again get shattered.
Thus Akhtaruzzaman Elias presents the shattering of dreams through his dream-like delineation. The role of Hindu-Muslim riot deserves immense significant in the novel.
The riot first started in August in Kolkata. The huge killing of Muslim people there by the Hindu miscreants enkindles similar heinous incidents on the Hindus by the Muslim people.
Even the remote villages cannot be saved from this flare. The Hindu-Muslim communal harmony for hundreds of years faces a irreparable havoc.
Before Khoabnama Bangla novel had a very small number of instances in which the representation of Hindu-Muslim riot and the interpretation could satisfy the readership.
Even Riot by Shahi Tharoor is also a worthwhile example in terms of communal disharmony. But the sorry saga is though hundreds of thousands of innocent people were killed in this part of Bangla only on religious dogmatism. Only a few writers came forth to write novels on this issue. The mischievous news tells that the Muslims are killing the Hindus in Kolkata. If also says that Suhrawardy himself has come out of his house with a pistol to kill the Hindus.
Thus the incident of Kolkata spreads with manifold interpretation across the villages also. Meanwhile the agitated mob of Majhi Para fishing community try to attack the Kachhari local office of the Zamindar. Elias does not hesitate to explore the inner causes of such incidents. Leaders of the uprising middle class people instigate and lead the common folk. The common people get no return from these incidents but the provokers are benefited hugely.
In such an occurrence Dasharath of Kamarpara succumbs death. After some days when Afsar Majhi, who set the house of Dasharath on fire, goes to Kamarpara secretly, he is attacked by them and killed inhumanly.
Refuge-problem is another consequence of the partition of India. Khoabnama also treats the sufferings and agonies of the refuges much meticulously.
Abdul Aziz buys the house of Kartik Bhaduri in the town. On the spur of the moment, we can know that Niren is a nephew of Kartik Bhaduri. We must admit that Khoabnama is not a novel of Tebhaga movement, rather it has only the shade of that momentous event that occurred around the year and ended in We observe in the novel the appearance of the communist leaders of that movement in the village and bazaar areas of our novel as they appear again during the Hindu-Muslim riot.
We know that Tamij i. In the last part of the book when Tamij is an absconder he leaves the company of the family of Abdul Aziz. Without any prior information he takes a train bound for Santahar from where he gets the train for Hilly or Jaydebpur or Takurgaon and thus the story of Tamij ends in dreams — the dreams of a family where he is an human being, more over where he is a husband of Fuljan, a father of his daughter.
The uprising of the Muslim society is also an striking aspect of Khoabnama. Kader, or his brother Abdul Aziz or their father Sharafat Mandal is the representation of that sect of the society. On the other hand Kalam Majhi and his police officer-son Tahsen are also the pioneers of this change.
But the characteristic feature of both the groups is they do show the same aggressive attitude towards the property left by the Hindus as well as the property possessed by the insolvent village people.
The conflict is not only between Hindus and Muslims but also the haves and the have-nots. Due to these conflicts the nearby town is soon crowded with Muslim migrants flooding from India. They lost everything they had. The case of Tamij, though a Muslim and a settler of this region, is no better than those Muslim Mohazers.
He also loses everything — his father loses his good fame as a religious person, and at last in dire hopelessness he dies, his stepmother Kulsum loses her security and homestead and later on losing her chastity she is killed. Tamij himself loses his right to live in his community. It is well known that this Latin American technique is a popular trend in the literatures of Europe and America. In Bangladesh, it has also been hailed as an unprecedented means. If we look into the last two novels of Syed Waliullah we will feel the expressionistic and surrealistic description.
Later on in the eighties of the last century the Bangladeshi novelist who emerged with a tremendous authority over this narratology is Shahidul Zahir b His second and till now last novel She Rate Purnima Chhilo is also a worthwhile instance. Another novelist Nasreen Jahan b is also a significant one in the trend. In her second novel Chandrer Prothom Kola she began to manipulate it but her third novelChandralekhar Jaadubistar made her a significant writer in this arena.
Earlier we have talked about myths and history. Now we will try to locate the dream-elements in the novel and see how skillfully Elias has exercised them inKhoabnama. From the very beginning of the novel, we observe the use of dreams in Khoabnama hugely and abruptly. Among all the characters Kulsum dreams most of the dreams. The first appearance of Kulsum is also in a dream. Dreams are very common in her nature.
Sometimes fairy elements are also intermingled with them. Stories about Kathlahar Bil, and the concerned people are no less indispensable than fairy elements. As they are fairy and dreamlike, the writer has integrated the impossible and the possible through them.
There are other people also who possesses affinity towards Kulsum. Keramat Ali, the husband of Fuljan but who does not live with the family now and roams through the villages and composes and sings songs has a very deep-rooted liking for Kulsum.
The origin of his desire is caused from the long heritage of Kulsum. Moreover the book of Cherag Ali is an attraction for him. Because he believes that book is the source of inspiration of all his songs. He thinks if he misses the blessing of Cherag Ali, he will lose his power to compose songs. The other person who relishes a carnival desire for Kulsum is Kalam Majhi.
A Writer's Writer - Akhtaruzzaman Elias