Popularly known as the “Palli-kavi” (the poet of rural Bangladesh), Jasim Uddin was born on the New Year's Day of 1913 in Faridpur. He has portrayed the life of rural Bangladesh in minute details in his poems, plays, fictions and songs. He has also collected a huge number of folk songs from different parts of Bengal. It is because of his intimate description of life-styles, rituals, beliefs and practices of the people of Bangladesh that he is regarded as one of the important poets of the country. Jasim Uddin died in 1976 and was buried in his village family graveyard.
For his outstanding contribution to Bangla Literature, Rabindra Bharati University honoured him with D Litt in 1969. As recognition of his excellence, Bangladesh bestowed the Ekushey Award on him. Absolutely non-communal and secularist in spirit, Jasim Uddin devoted his life to the service of Bangladesh. The renowned Bengali scholar Dr Dinesh Chandra Sen in an introduction to his ballad Sojan Badiar Ghat (1933; English translation, The Gipsy Wharf 1969 ) writes,” The author's penetrating insight into the very character of our masses, his talented grasp of the characteristics of feminine feelings, have invested the poem with life-like presentation of the moral and cultural traits of Bengalis”.
Apart from Sojan Badiar Ghat, Jasim Uddin also wrote Nakshi Kathar Math (1929; English translation, The Field of Embroidered Quilt), Rangila Nayer Majhi (Boatman of the Gay Boat, 1930). His poem “Kabar” (“Graves”) is a prized possession of Bangla literature. Because of their simplicity and emotional intensity, the folk songs he either composed or collected are very popular in Bangladesh. Songs like “Amar Galar Har Khule Nelo” (My necklace is unhooked and taken away), “Nadir Kul Nai, Kinar Nai Re” (The river has no bank, no shore), “Prano Shakhi Re” (O dearest mate) at once touch the hearts of millions of Bengalis even today.
On the occasion of Pahela Baishakh, the Norsk-Bangla Forum proudly presents a play, Tahara o Tini, a free adaptation of Jasim Uddin's story, “Thakur Moshaher Lathi” which is collected in his Bangaleer Hashir Galpa (Laughing Tales of the Bengalees). Adapted and made into a play by Ahmed Ahsanuzzaman, an associate professor of English at Bangladesh’s Khulna University who is now pursuing a doctoral research in Ibsen Studies at the University of Oslo, it is going to be a treat to watch it. Ahsanuzzaman who completed his MPhil in Ibsen Studies from the University of Oslo also directed Jasim Uddin’s Bhagabhagi” and Shaheed Muneir Chowdhury’s Kabar for us with stunning success last year. Ahsanuzzaman directed Khulna University’s production of Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People in Bangladesh in 2006.
Today's play is about a poor rural school teacher, Ramzan Master who has decided to commit suicide for he does not have a regular income to sustain his family. As he prepares for suicide, his eyes meet Bhoot (ghost) and he becomes senseless out of fear. That a human being is finally afraid of him is a welcome relief to Bhoot because in vain he has tried for two and a half centuries to instil fear in human beings. He now considers it his sacred duty to help the poor teacher. He gives him a magic pot which is stolen by his friend’s greedy brother and his equally greedy wife; he gives him a magic bag which too is taken away by the same persons. The stage is all set for the reward of the good and the punishment of the bad. You will see how that happens in our play Tahara o Tini in our programme to celebrate the Bangla New Year on April 19, 2009.
Tahara o Tini
Story: Jasim Uddin
Adaptation, Script and Direction: Ahmed Ahsanuzzaman