Journey through Bangladesh
Memories of Promoth Choudhuri
Ahmed Humayun Kabir Topu
Promoth Choudhuri, a noted author of Bangla literature, was once the pride of Pabna. But despite his literary legacy, he is slowly disappearing from the memories of the people of Pabna. In the village of his birth, almost nothing remains that bears the memories of the man.
Promoth Choudhuri is the son of Durgdas Choudhuri, of the village of Haripur in Chatmohar upazila under Pabna district. Haripur lies 30 KM away from the Pabna district headquarter. Born on August 7th in 1868, he spent his early life in this relatively remote village. His father was a deputy magistrate under the British Government. They were a family of seven brothers and two sisters, all highly literate and all very successful in their chosen field.
Five of his brothers, including himself, became barristers while the rest became doctors. His eldest brother Ashutosh Choudhuri was the justice of Kolkata high court. Kumudnath Choudhuri, Jogesh Chandra Choudhuri, Promoth Choudhuri and Amionath Choudhuri were the Barristers while Monmoth Nath and Subod Nath Choudhuri were the doctors. Given her children's success, it is no wonder that Promoth's mother Mognamoee Devi was popularly called 'Ratna Gorva' (Mother of Jewels).
Promoth Choudhuri had passed the 'Entrance' from 'Kolkata Hare School' and completed his MA from 'Saint Javiars College'. Later, he completed BA Honors in Philosophy in 1889 from Presidency College in Kolkata and completed MA in English from the same college in 1890, with the distinction of achieving first class first in both the exams.
He went to England in 1893 with a view to completing Bar at Law. He was involved in solicitation in Kolkata High Court for a little while. He also engaged himself in professorship of Law for a short period. Later, he served as a receiver of Deccanishwar Gopallal estates and as a manager of the Tagore estate. He married Indira Devi, a niece of Rabindranath Tagore.
Promoth Choudhuri began his literary career from an early age. He was a prolific write of Bangla essays, and published many of his works under a pseudonym. Despite being a literary figure in an era dominated by Rabindranath, he was able to establish his own voice in Bangla literature.
Prommoth Choudhuri was the only Bangla 19th century writer who experimented with using a colloquial tone in his writing. In most of his writings he emphasized the need of objectivity and close observation. His insights into the human condition answered many questions for his readership, critics say.
“Promoth Choudhuri does not just write. He speaks with the audience. When a reader reads his essay or prose, they feel as if the writer is talking with him. Promoth Choudhuri introduced a different outlook, different flavor in writing during the Rabindranath era.” said Professor Md. Nurunnabi, former principal of Govt. Shahid Bulbul College, Pabna.
“Promoth Choudhuri addressed the readers directly so that the readers felt involved", he added. "He was influenced by European writers, and this is evident in his works. His objectivity, close observation of life and society made him perfect for his time. His writings became lively because of these qualities.” Professor Nurunnabi said. Promoth Choudhuri had contributed to the development of Bangla prose and essay writings greatly.
Promoth Choudhuri is acclaimed in Bangla literature for introducing 'Chalit' language in literary works in the 19th century. His prose 'Halkhata' was first published in the 'Varoti' periodical in 1902 following the 'Chalit Riti'. Promoth Choudhuri had also edited a monthly periodical 'Shabuz Patra' which emphasized writings in this form.
Of his famous writings, Tel-Nun-Lakre (1906), Beerboler Halkhata (1916), Nana Kotha (1919), Amader Sheikhha (1920), Raoter Kotha (1926), Nana Chorcha (1932), Probondho Sangraha (1952-1953) are famous in Bangla literature. His contribution was not limited to prose or essay, he also contributed towards Bangla poetry and wrote sonnets. Panchashat (1913), Podacharan (1919) are his sonnet compilations.
Char Eari Kotha (1916), Ahuti (1919), Golpo Sangraha (1941) are also the renowned books by Promoth Choudhuri. Promoth Choudhuri used wit and humor in his writings. His writings became lively through a potent combination of insights in life and society, and humor. He had engaged himself in editing 'Bishwa Varoti' late in his life. Promoith Choudhuri died on 2nd September 1946 in Kolkata.
Promoth Choudhuri's ancestral residence at Haripur village in Chatmohar upazila has lost almost its entire architectural heritage. According to the elders of the village, there was a large building full of ancient decoration over seven bighas of lands in Haripur village. Nothing of the building remains.
Locals said that Promoth Choudhuri, along with his whole family left the village after the partition (1947), leaving most of their belongings behind. According to the locals, they owned a large concrete building decorated with 'Kori'. The main gate of his residence was renowned for its beauty, and was looted after they left the country. No steps were taken by the government to preserve the memories of this famous writer.
75 years old Tayeb Ali Mollah of village Haripur said that there were fine concrete buildings, a vast pond, a pond in his ancestral residence, which sprawled over a seven bighas compound. The estate was looted and the buildings demolished during the Pakistan era.
Local administration said that the government took no steps earlier to preserve his legacy. “It is true that no steps were taken earlier for preserving the memories of Promoth Chowdhuri. All that remains is just a dilapidated temple. But the villagers still feel proud of his name.” Md. Makbul Hossain, chairman of Haripur union parishad said.
Noted cultural activists of the district, along with the president of Pabna Drama Circle Gopal Sannal said that Promoth Chowdhuri is the pride of the region. His memories must be kept alive so that the next generation can learn about him. Government should take immediate steps to preserve the memories of Promth Chowdhuri, the noted writer of Bangla literature he demanded Gopal Sannal demanded.
(R) thedailystar.net 2009