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(3)Prose>Ali Azgor Talukder - Al Mahmud Poetry: An Introduction (part-1)
Ah! I wish the lying boy came back again And standing against the people and their mockery, like a bard, Cried, ‘Death comes, O the villagers – Beware!’ The shepherd, who in the traditional story is depicted as a liar and so has always been humiliated, here in ‘mithyabadi rakhal’ surprisingly appears as a tragic hero telling the truth. Thus the variety of experiences and the way of thinking in Al Mahmud’s poetry fascinate the readers. Solely rooted in his own soil the images in his poetry suggest distinct, poignant and purely original feeling, emotion, instinct and knowledge. The chronological development of his poetry involves a mystic journey rebellious in tone based on love instinct, traditional lays and legends, daily domestic events and mystery etc., which have a sensual ring. Bangladesh is a country of monsoon and soft fertile soil. Here the common people live near the soil and crops. And there they always pray for the safety of life and livelihood. Al Mahmud’s poetry picks up that life along with its warmth, feeling and significance. An instance may be his ‘Sonali Kabin 14’ where, to announce the honesty of his heart, the speaker swears upon the factors related to livelihood i.e. rain, paddy-grains, fish, meat, cows heavy with milk, the plough, the scythe, and the wind-blown full sail. The love instinct of these people are preoccupied with a sense of safety of life and livelihood. And ‘Sonali Kabin, 13’ reflects that phenomenon by juxtaposing lovemaking with the images of harvesting. With paddy grains in a lucky tray waiting all the villagers, ace; Toasted paddy grains in the yard, attar and odorous wood in bed. In these ‘conditions the essential passions of the heart find a better soil in which they can attain their maturity, are less under restraint, and speak a plainer and more emphatic language.’ Al Mahmud presents the essential passions, desire and belief of these people intact in a plain and emphatic language they use. ‘Sonali Kabin 13’ reveals the sweetness of the desire for love making of a chaste virgin with her head ‘bent in shyness’ and a young man whose ‘heart stirs throbbing, becoming the tiara on thy forehead’ with an uncommon sense and suggestion: Open thy eyes reddened with frankincense, O fair lady The two banks of thy embroidered hood are shaking against my breathing Did the wood pigeon ever bend its head in shyness’s eddy? Are you a rattan root in the storm shaking? This love instinct in Al Mahmud is always artfully seeded in sensuality. In ‘Sonali Kabin, 1’ the phrases ‘jalpaier pata’ (olive leaf) and ‘shei fall’ (i.e. apple) similitude the lovers’s love making with that of Adam and Eve. ‘If you take off your clothes, you will find me plain and chaste My manliness not even an olive leaf will cover If you take the apple give me a part to taste, Aware and unaware ever will we be known to each other.’ The same episode of Adam and Eve gets more carnal in ‘Chithi’ (A Letter) of ‘Ek Chokkhu Horin’ (One-eyed Deer): As after plucking A fruit just now, Eve is calling upon Adam gesturing From behind the tree. And the fruit’s Yellow paste is oozing down her naked thighs. These are honest and sincere expressions of the love instinct of the common rural people of Bangladesh as in ‘Sonali Kabin 1’the poor poet, unwrapping his ingenuous heart, declares: I don’t have gold coins; ask not for dowry Only can I give you my virgin hands if you agree Never did I collect gold by self-trickery The frowns all around are wounding and hurting me. With this honesty and sincerity when he says ‘Not am I defeated, O lady, poets never get defeated/ Though gravely hurt the veins are today aching battered.’ (Sonali Kabin 7) a rebellious tone springs out. Rebellion here takes impetus from the love instinct with which he is trying to solace his beloved: ‘Don’t please break the bangles; I’ll fill up your ear-bore/ Still I have the sandal pin in my house’. In this sonnet, the first quatrain reads the story of a robbed golden earring in a violently stormy environment where ‘The vegetable branches toss outside’. Here the phrase ‘anajer dal’ (vegetable branches) calls up potent images of rural geography. The words and phrases selected for the ‘golden earring’ are ‘jaor’ (ornament) and ‘kanet’ (earring) which unmistakably take the readers back to the original Bengali rural world. So when the poet says that ‘anajer dal’ shakes in the violent storm, he deftly indicates that the traditional rural culture is shaking. The first two lines of the second quatrain provide the reasons why the rural culture is shaking. Worms are wearing out the country’s creative conscience The intelligentsia is content of selling their brain. So anger springs up in the speaker’s voice: How long can it be kept hidden under gentle stance When some rebellious poetry cries in the heart’s vein? The same rebellious tone cries in the title poem of Bokhtierer Ghora (The Horse of Bokhtier). The poem is in direct opposition to any type of oppression. Here he has taken resort to the national history, the historical figure of Iktier Uddin Mohammad Bokhtier Khilji who first rescued the repressed low cast people of this area from the tyranny of Sen Dynasty. This figure has been a national myth now. Mother moved the fan and smiled, He is Allah’s soldier, king of the destitute. Wherever the believers fear to call azan, And man worships man, He appears there. The rider of the white horse of the Khiljis. Look, the tyrant is escaping through the back door Look. ‘Ek Gunjorito Kobir Atma’ (The Singing Soul of a Poet) in Kana Mamuder Ural Kabya (A Tale of Blind Mamud’s Flying Trip) takes historical figures of Kutubuddin Ibek and the saint Nizamuddin to express revolt against slavery. I felt Kutubuddin Ibek’s large gesture like a huge forefinger. The gesture of independence of Hindustan. Standing with so straight a head That remains unshaken by the force of clouds, rains, winter, summer, storm and seasons. The rebellion of a slave emperor against all sorts of slavery simply a symbol of raising the head high. Besides taking up historical figures he works with traditional lays and legends to infuse new suggestions to them. The title poem of Mithyabadi Rakhal reverses the familiar story of the lying shepherd. The shepherd has always been regarded as a humiliated figure, a liar. Reversing the essence of this story Al Mahmud says that the shepherd was actually suggesting a far off truth but the society didn’t understand that: My thought opened: might have the boy had any extraordinary sense To sense the smell of death in advance? And so When he sensed the smell, ignoring all upbraiding Like a poet he would cry, Tiger! Tiger! ‘Thus I have tried to change the negative meaning of a traditional story and insert a positive meaning into it. This is the task of a poet for ages.’ While telling the story of a blind girl’s eye treatment by a quack, the poem ‘doitter bodole ek pal tola atma’ (A Sailing Soul Instead of a Demon) in Doel O Doita (A Doel and My Wife) unwraps the social evils behind the screen in the manner of folktales. The poor quack came And started kissing the eyelids of the blind girl and once Undid a button on her blouse. The familiar figures of Satan and Sheikh Saadi in ‘technology’ read into the heart of imperialism in the present world. Even in handling a subject like imperialism he doesn’t forget to use his wit and humor. The ‘poor memory’ of Satan and the image of his searching of pockets are humorous. The ‘torn pages of Masnabi’ ‘Shams-e-Tabreez’ and ‘Dewan of Hafiz’ make the poem witty and suggestive. He needs striking argument for all types of ban. But whatever pocket He is putting his hand in, torn pages of Masnabi are coming out. Coming out Shams-e-Tabreez and Dewan of Hafiz.
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