“Remember I sang”: A book launched at the
University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh
Mohammed Jayed Mowla
On 20th February 2008, on the eve of “National Mother Language Day”, the Department of English and Humanities at the University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh organized the launching ceremony of a book titled “Remember I Sang”. The book is a collection of poems and songs of Rabindranath Tagore, translated by writer and renowned journalist Moyeenul Alam.
Although the translator needs no introduction among teachers and other professionals, we students must get to know him, for he has a very high profile that exceeds even the accomplishments of some of the most successful people. Moyeenul Alam has obtained multiple international degrees and certificates from famous institutes of Switzerland, Germany and the US. He has over 30 years of experience working in exceptional designations at first class newspapers. He has been invited to international tours and events from 1974 to 1993 exclusively by President Ford of the US, her Majesty of the United Kingdom, Alliance Française and others. Furthermore, he was the only journalist from South Asia to report on the Reagan-Gorbachev summit in Washington DC, after which he authored his first book “Triumph in the Afternoon”. Currently he is residing in Canada where he has made himself known as a successful journalist and an appealing writer.
The occasion was attended by nearly 200 people who included teachers from ULAB and other universities, members from the 'Shahitya Academy', students of the English Department and others. It started with Prof. Mohit Ul Alam, dean of ULAB Department of English, giving an introduction to the book, the translator and a comprehensive view of Tagore's life, purpose and works. He thanked all the guests for showing up on such short notice.
After that, Moyeenul Alam was invited to speak. He mentioned with utmost honesty that although he had tried his level best, one difficulty that he, like every translator of Tagore, faced was in recreating the essence of spirituality that each poem contains. He thanked everyone and especially ULAB, and then recited the English version of two famous poems from the book before resigning.
Following this, an English teacher of ULAB took the floor and performed a masterful recitation with expert expressions and perfect voice projection, both in Bengali and English, of another famous poem from the book.
After this the guests were invited to speak:
First of all Prof. Kaiser Hamidul Haq, a renowned international poet and currently adjunct faculty of ULAB, emphasized on the need for more translations of this sort that would help the new Bengali generations who are being brought up in various other parts of the world to be exposed to their origins and cultural framework, which one can never deny to be a part of him; only by taking a stand with it can one consider and observe aspects of other cultures, which is what Tagore did. He congratulated Moyeenul Alam on his accomplishment and ended by saying “Tagore is to us what Shakespeare is to the English”.
Next up on stage was Prof. Syed Manzoorul Islam from Dhaka University. He talked about some of the core requirements for achieving a good translation of Tagore, which are primarily the adequate renditions of thought by such choice of words that preserve it. He also stated that Moyeenul Alam's translation have remained faithful to the original. He put more weight on the actual reproduction of the original message in the translations other than anything else; for it is only by means of the meaning can readers really feel the spirituality encircling it.
(Mohammed Jayed Mowla is a fresher of ULAB English Department and president of the ULAB English Language Coterie)