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Putul khela

Venue: Bengal Gallery of Fine Arts

Blond hair with ponytails, crystal blue eyes with a matching dress, face curved with a golden ratio and a perfect tan. The catch, she is 11.5 inches tall. You can find her with almost every little girl these days. But what about those days when there was no “Barbie”?

It was not a distant past. Even I, living in my early twenties, remember those days when my big sis stitched some cloths and somehow made cute little cotton dolls to play with. Back then I thought playing with dolls silly, with miniature kitchen cutlery and playing “Putul Biye”, mostly because I was busy with bashing my bat against tennis balls.

We grew up; times changed and along came Barbie, Pikachu with his Pokemon gang and Miss Hannah Montana. And now I know how special those tailor made days were. But on 13th February, the first day of spring I had a Déjà vu with those long lost memories in my mind. Last 13th February Bengal Gallery of Fine Arts arranged a unique event for launching Nazia Jabin's newest book “Binir Shathe Putul Biye”. Now, guess what made this launching ceremony unique?

The name of the event was “Choto-der Putul Khela, Chobi Aka O Grontho Prokash”. There was singing, playing with those old fashioned cotton dolls and cute little kitchen cutleries. Children of all ages all colours and with boundless imagination were curving their dreams on the white paper. And seeing all these; some of the old timers came along with the little children to play.

And you could see the vive of new spring everywhere in the little balcony of Bengal Gallery of Fine Arts. Dressed up in orange and red sharees and Gadaa fool all the children and adults transformed the place in to something special. Leaving the plastic Barbies behind and embracing what own is not a pretty common scenario these days and not something you see everyday.

A festival of alphabets

February is quite a colourful month indeed: bright yellow with the majestic arrival of Spring and also lovely red or pink with the whispers of romance in the air. But amidst the riot of gorgeous colours, there's also the sombre presence of black and white- a combination that simultaneously expresses mourning, pride, dignity and the undying spirit of never bowing one's head to injustice.

Yes, February is the month celebrating the importance and significance of our mother tongue Bangla. Accordingly, it is also the month celebrating the Ekushey Boimela, the traditional Bangla book fair taking place every year on the Bangla Academy premises.

This year's Boimela, despite having a somewhat slow start, has finally succeeded in attracting book-lovers from all walks of life with its healthy number of publication stalls and quality books. A good number of publication houses have focused on the Liberation War and the Language Movement, an initiative that has been highly appreciated by the general populace. In fact, stalls like Centre for Bangladesh Liberation War Studies, Bangali Shongskriti Kendro, Sheikh Mujib Smriti Jadughor, Ekattorer Jaatri etc. barely have books dealing with any other subject. Muktijudhdho Jadughor has arranged a photographic display under the title 'History of Liberation Struggle of Bangladesh in Pictures'. They also have supplies of the famed 'Jagoroner gaan' (500 tk each), copies of Shamsur Rahman's 'Pandulipi 1971', popular film and documentary DVDs on the Liberation War (including titles like 'Muktir Gaan', 'Aguner Poroshmoni' etc.), postcards, mugs etc. 'Unmad' has brought their very own Muktijudhdho Chitrokahini Series. Mentionable reads also include 'Bhasha Andoloner Ponchash Bochhor' compiled by Arjumand Ara Banu (Onupom Publications), books on and by Mahbub Ul Alam Chowdhury, the first poet of the Language Movement (Palok Publishers), 'Ekusher Ekush Kobita' by Nirmolendu Gun (Lekhalekhi), 'Bhasha Andolon O Shwadhinota' by M. R. Akhter Mukul (Shikha Prokashoni), 'Je Bhasha Chhoriye Gechhe Shobkhane' by Muhammad Habibur Rahman (Adorn Publication) etc.

The age group 13-20 mainly thrives on books by Humayun Ahmed and Md. Zafar Iqbal and this year is no exception. Md. Zafar Iqbal's 'Rasha', science fiction 'Robo Nishi', 'Aro Ektu Bigyan' etc. have already become popular. Same goes for Humayun Ahmed's 'Shuvro Gechhe Bone', 'Misir Ali Unsolved' etc. Shumonto Aslam has written 'Bekub Number One', 'To To Totla Toton' and the continuations of his famous 'Baundule' chronicles. Imdadul Hoque Milon presents us with 'Classer Shobchaite Dushtu Chheleti' along with Dhrubo Esh's 'Arek Nishita' and Anisul Hoque's 'Ei Golpota Hashir'. Abdullah Abu Sayeed's 'Amar Boka Shoishob' can be found in Shomoy Prokashoni. The Juvenile Fantasy/Horror/Mystery series and Bangla adaptations of English classics from Sheba Prokashoni seem to be a favourite this year too, hence the huge crowd in front of their stall. Also popular are the mammoth story collections or 'Golpshomogro' by different renowned authors that come in 25-30% discounts.

It is needless to say that the most effective way of developing and nourishing a language requires its proper practice, in other words: reading and writing. Books are indispensable in that sense. And we being the emotional race that we are, place our mother tongue in a much higher place than anything else. Thus Ekushey Boimela is often rightfully remarked as 'Bangalir Praner Mela', marking the festival of the language of hearts coming close to one another.

Therefore, a typical Bangali February without a trip to the Boimela? Quite unthinkable.

(Information provided are up to date with the time of submission of this article, which is February 13, 2010)

By Raisa Rafique

Myth Box

Prince of princes

No doubt it takes a deaf man a heck of a lot of skill and imagination to be one of the best composers of all time. So, if Beethoven could compose music, there's no reason Homer couldn't be a poet. Not Homer Simpson, dolts, THE Homer: the dude who wrote the Iliad. Though, given the number of choice quotes, one would have to rank the Simpson higher.

The Iliad, as many of you know, is the story about the greatest war the world has ever seen. Why we rule out WWI and WWII you ask? Let's face it, which is cooler: fighting over a woman or fighting over Hitler? As is usual in any fight that involves women, there were a LOT of heroes and princes and knights in shining armour [I can see all the female Rasul fans going misty eyed]. And the best of them was: Hector, prince of Troy.

Losing a war is a bitch! But if even the poets from the nation you lost to wax on and on about your goodness, you must have done something right! In fact, Hector did almost everything right. He was a brave warrior, an able General and a patriot. The reason that Troy lasted the ten years of war was mostly thanks to him. More than that, he was a family man. He loved his wife and had high hopes for his baby son. He was chivalrous, courteous and fair. They say there are no clean men, but in the Iliad, Hector was the cleanest, metaphorically, of course, since being in the front lines of war in the Bronze Age would hardly make you clean.

But as with every great hero, there is a moment of darkness that shadows Hector's legacy. In the penultimate moments of his life, Hector ran from Achilles, the greatest of the Greek heroes. While many hold it against Hector, there is deeper meaning behind the overtly hasty retreat. You see, Hector pretty much knew he was dead when he saw Achilles charge into the fight, abandoning his previous issues with the Greek commander, Agamemnon. Even the best of men sometimes quail at their doom. But Hector, despite knowing that the Gods were all against him and that his time had come, eventually stood his ground and gave Achilles a fight. And he was a great enough warrior for Achilles, the mindless soldier, to tie Hector's dead body to his chariot and drive off yelling, “I killed Hector!”

They say Achilles also knew he was going to die in this war, but Achilles did not know the exact moment. Besides, Achilles abandoned his duties in favour of a grudge regarding a woman. Hector was a better man than that.

What of the family he loved so much? What of his wife Andromache and his son Astyanax? They shipped off Andromache as a slave. And remember the son of Hector you saw in Troy, the movie: the cute little baby? They threw him off the walls of Troy with the rest of the Trojan children as their mothers watched the brutality from the ships. Hollywood sure knows how to sugarcoat things.

By Dr Who



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