What happens in literature could well be happening in life. It is the symbolism of literature which has served as a huge prop to life through the generations and across societies. It was such symbolism which was on display for a heady, almost intoxicating three days at the Bangla Academy here in Dhaka.
We speak of the Hay Festival, which drew to an end on Saturday amid a cheerful mixture of celebration and reflection through the presence of some of the biggest names in contemporary global literature as also our own prominent men and women of letters. And, of course, there were all the literature enthusiasts, aficionados, if you will, who would not miss an occasion to converse with the likes of Vikram Seth and Kamila Shamsie and our very own Syed Shamsul Huq and Anisul Haq. The Hay Festival, based on the well-known tradition of the annual Hay-on-Wye festival of books and culture in the United Kingdom, has with its latest presence in Bangladesh made its entry twice into Bengali life. The one-day affair last year was but a throwing of an idea into the crowd. This time round, more substance came into it, with a wider swathe of discussions and a larger canvas of literary stars present to inform the people of Bangladesh that out in the wider world of poetry and fiction, Bangladesh's writers could carve their own literary niche.
From such a perspective, Hay 2012 was as much a journey to Dhaka by global literati as it was an opportunity for our men and women of creative imagination to inform the world that they too speak of a literary heritage burnished over time by experience and deep sensibilities and ready to claim its place on the landscape of creativity.
The Hay Festival may have drawn to a close. But, as with all things of literary brilliance, it has left behind new thoughts for everyone to mull over.