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(3)Prose>Ali Azgor Talukder - Al Mahmud Poetry: An Introduction (part-2)
Old age lures men to tell stories. Al Mahmud says, as a poet ‘my aim is to sow story within a story.’(3) His stories are of common daily activities where he plants new and uncommon suggestions. His ‘Kichhu Mone Nei’ (Nothing Can I recall) introduces us with a speaker who cannot recall his past. This is a poem about the forgotten past. The poet contrasts an old mother with her young child. The speaker and the mother are talking with each other in a traditional domestic Bengali atmosphere. The mother talks of the past of the speaker. But the speaker cannot remember anything of that past. Instead of listening to the history of his past, the speaker frequently tries to escape from the past with a plea of taking tea. The poet has used the word ‘tea’ as a symbol in this poem. The word ‘tea’ has been used twice and the word ‘cup’ twice stands for ‘tea’ metonymically. The speaker uses the word ‘tea’ to hide his uneasiness with his mother because of his doubt of her being his mother. ‘I said, mother, let’s take some tea.’ The mother carries on telling the past history of the speaker’s origin, his birth in the ‘thatch’ under ‘neem tree’. At the time of the speaker’s birth ‘[they] didn’t have a single drop of tea’ which is the second mention of the word ‘tea’. And this caused him ‘putting down the cup’. The speaker has forgotten his origin. His father was a ‘guard’ of ‘The rice growing in the sands’. And there she refers to ‘the voice of Haji Shariat’ who led a revolt against the British colonialists. This history caused his tea to turn ‘Cold as water’. So we might say that ‘tea’ here bears the history of colonial past. Now an allegorical reading of the poem reveals the following story: in the origin, the speaker was out of touch of the western (colonial) culture. Now the colonial influence has so engrossed him that he casts doubt about his birth. Colonialism has created a large gap between the mother and the son. He uses ‘a peculiar old lady’ for his mother: A peculiar old lady. Once bore me. Perhaps. Now it seems incredible. The generation gap is also evident in the use of the full stops that gives the impression that they forcefully disrupt the continuation of the speech and this indicates that colonial suppression breaks relationships between generations. The original spirit of the religious culture and tradition of the people of Bangladesh is also exposed in the line: O naked, tell me to which mosque will you go? – And this is also rooted in ‘The old lady smiled and started to count rosary’. But the speaker has forgotten his own history and cultural heritage; ‘Nothing Can I recall.’ However, the poet gives a positive indication. In the first stanza the speaker proposed for tea and then in the course of listening to the history of his origin he put the cup down. And at last we see that tea has lost its character (cold as water) i.e. its strength (colonial influence) has been reduced by knowledge of his own history. What Al Mahmud presents here, in fact, is a narrative of decolonization where we read the history of our original past. A common domestic event eyes the history of the independence of Bangladesh in ‘Ghatona’ (An Event) of Ruda - the first name in my heart. Rudaiina! The black braided hair of my heart - my cousin. In the evenings Ruda used to come to the reading table reciting sura nas. She’d only laugh, learn nothing. While learning the language of her father she’d laugh - I know Bangla words, I love you- I ....... .And hiding the face in the pillow she would fell about. But finally he can’t gain her. He was given hope but was disillusioned. This event points to the hope in the birth of Pakistan in 1947 and the later disillusionment that caused the liberation war in 1971. The fruit of my patience is hanging inedible all over Bangla. Look, from the map riven, blood streamed into history. Fearing to make ulu the boy who didn’t even kindle a light in the house in the evening, whipped the back of Halaku’s horse in seventy-one. At his victorious chanting the minaret of freedom has come out of the earth into the sky. In the same way, ‘ridoypur’ (The Heart’s Village) symbolically portrays the deception, falsity, filth and ugliness of the society. With the little strokes of his pen the poet narrates the daily domestic experiences and activities, and the feelings about love, hate, happiness and sadness of daily life in ‘kobitar kota’ (A Tale of a Poem). In the symbol of a Moyna he reveals the inner self as the folktales do. I found that the girl was getting intelligent after getting married. But I got surprised when I went to set Poem free. Opening the cage as much I was telling the bird to fly away Flapping so much in the cage the bird was saying, I love you. Now I go to bed keeping the cage open. But Poem does not escape. He only says, I love you. What will I do with Poem, The slave of this cage?
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