Kalyani Kaji

Nazrul came, he wrote, he conquered. He appeared in Bengali's literary firmament at an age of 21 to 22. Though he died in 1976 at an age of 77, his literary death occurred much earlier - at an age of 43 or 44. All his creations had been made within a very short span of 21/22 years under severe physical, mental and financial constraints. Such a creative splurge within so short a period, this is what makes Nazrul unique. Tragedy has always befriended artists, poets, literary persons by and large. Kazi Nazrul is a prime example of this fact. Evidence of his talent, his patriotism, his secularism is strewn in all his writings but as thoughts started to mature, this creativity died a sudden death. Much as I study Nazrul, I can feel disorganisation and disruption ruled his life. Many of his writings have been lost or misplaced or manhandled all because of this characteristic in him. I entered this family in December 1955 as the youngest daughter-in-law. My husband Kazi Aniruddha, a famous guitarist of his time was the poet's youngest son. When I first saw "Baba", he had lost his memories and senses but I could feel he was happy to see me. When my husband first introduced me saying "baba ei amar bou" he smiled and nodded. His wife, our favourite "Mamoni" (Promila Nazrul Islam), was paralysed since 1939.

Baba tried to cure her using all the available resources, but she failed to respond. Probably this grief led him gradually towards his own cerebral death.

In his family life he was a dutiful husband, loving father, a perfect host. He was an extremely warm hearted person who loved people. His home was always open for all friends and relatives and he would not let go unless they stayed back for lunch or dinner. This tradition continued during the later years also, although the family was never really financially comfortable.

I have seen Baba looking out at the blue sky from caged windows oblivious to the whole world. Sometimes he could spread out a book or newspaper as if he is reading it, then he would fold it carefully and keep it under the pillow or tear it apart.

Memories keep crowding as I go on, his birthday being most memorable. Planning would start a month ahead. On the very day there was a festive atmosphere ignoring the tremendous heat of May, people would start pouring in from early morning to see and garland him. He would often point towards the harmonium wishing we could sing. I used to start singing followed by many other artists.

Sometimes he looked very happy, tears flowed down his cheek. Sometimes he would get excited and tear apart his garland, get exhausted and lie down. Much as I have seen him closely, I had the opportunity to nurse him and serve him. All that lend a new meaning to my life. On the eve of this centenary celebration, when I find all of you in this country and abroad paying tribute and acknowledging his contribution in Bengali literature, it makes me feel happy and sad at the same time.

Courtesy: Net Guru India, May 1998]