Within class and beyond
Beyond symbols and sentiments
Adages and bachans in Bangla
Globalization, language and Ekushey
Ekushey - towards secular democracy
Making Ekushey meaningful to the young
Intimations of Ekushey
Our pride, our sorrow, our joy
The elitist Ekushey
Rediscovering Ekushey February
Bangabandhu and Language Movement
Incipient nationalism and freedom
My first Ekushey
Bangla and Muslim era in India
Dhirendranath Datta: Glimpses of a life
A generation united and untied
The unforgettable
A privilege and a responsibility
Remembering Ekushey
It's a different February
Reflections on 21st February
When memory sweeps across history


Intimations of Ekushey

Wali-ur Rahman

The Star chamber was frequently attacked by the Common Lawyers for the sweep of its criminal jurisdiction and harshness in justice delivery.

Milton's Areopagitica devoted time and space in baring its intention on freedom of speech and language. RAPP (Russian Association for Protectian Soviet Literature from 1929-32) is another example of virtual control.

Milton was unconventional in his intellect. He went blind but his love for English was unflagging: he wrote his greatest piece the Paradise Lost. He knew Latin and Greek, but he tried in English, first in comus, dramatizing his theme of good and evil and finally he gifted us the Paradise Lost.

When the neo-colonial military -- wadera combine of alien Pakistan wanted to impose Urdu, a foreign tongue, on Bengal as the state language, she rose to a man.

The secular Bengal, with the spirit and mores totally sincretic, with temple jingles mingling with church bell and buddhist dharma, the Bengalees embraced martyrdom, written in stone their love for the mother tongue, Bangla, the language of devotional Tagore and sensuous Nazrul, diction of Madhu and Shankar, the pantheistic love of Jibanananda Das, the austere love of Shamsur Rahman or the robust chime of Nirmalendu Goon.

The culture-fallow Pakistanis never understood the mind and soul of a Bengalee, its soil and water, the wind and thunder, the colours of the flowers, the greedy splendour of chrysanthemums, the lily, the nightingales and nocturnal flowers, the serpent sniff, the magic mood of the seasons ripe with fruitfulness, when women besought with love and laughter, song and music welcome the seasons, carnal and spiritual.

Fraser's Golden Bough is the happy hunting ground of the Benglees and their next of kin. Alexander did not tread towards Bengal -- he cried that he could not see the beauty and bountiful that was Bengal: the Brits attempted sacrilege, they retreated, but not before pillaging the beautiful verdura and the green of Rupashi Bangla.

The Bangla that Sheikh Mujib, the poet of politics, embraced and regaled was betrayed. It is a battle of good and evil, Ashura and Mazda, the Pakistanis retreated and fled; left behind death and burn! Bengal rose again with the dreams of the martyrs of 1952 beckoning them never to despair.

Who can think of Bangladesh of today without returning to the memories of the martyrs -- unique in human history? Adam Smith or Lord Vikhu Parekh should rewrite economic philosophy: people can do things without selfish interest. Bengal proved it.

Sheikh Mujib proved it; crucified for our sins. His resurrection is only a matter of detail. The 'Wasteland' cruelly rendered in the past five years is regenerating.

The rain has come. The fertility of mother Bengal is tiptoeing to us. It is just over here. And the giggling girls and their pals hearken back to Ekushey to tell us 'don't be scared, Bengal never perishes, it is the real paradise.'

We celebrate our life and love -- shall go to the prayers tomorrow. Forget about the cultural, economic gulag left behind by the highwaymen grabbing everything -- the Barbarinis left in shame, who only worshipped dinars and dollars, coins and coppers, built towers and Isles hither and thither, in Argosia and a castle in Xanadu. Goddess Falgun was forgotten: the Ekushey heralds rain and fertility, joys of rebirth and resurgence of a nation.

This is our Ganga and Jamuna, this is our Mecca and Jesusalem -- the Ekushey with the intimations of the Magi with efferings of gold and royalty, frankincense and divinity and myrrh prophesizing sorrow to those who desecrated this golden land called Bengal.

Five years misrule left us in 'rats alley, where the dead men lost their bones.' Then the Eleven came with the message of goodwill -- we shall overcome.

For once we forget summum bonum in 'knowledge is virtue' (Socrates) but embrace 'in the kiss of one girl' (Browning). That is the sensuous Falgun with February and Ekushey in tow.

The Mother Tongue day is only a subtext in our march towards eternity, a nation of heroes who fought in the glorious war that was called liberation.

English, French, Spanish and Bengali -- in that order -- are ruling the world. The Spanish Encydopaedist Prado gave us Banglapaeda, though riddled with stings and arrows; political 'Rastafarians.'

The Asiatic Society gave us something. Dr. Johnson wanted to finish his Dictionary in three years When reminded that the French had 40 scholars working on the French Dictionary for 40 years under the auspices of L' Academia Francaise, he retorted, "Sir, thus it is. This is the proportion, let me see, forty times forty is sixteen hundred, so is the proportion of an English man to a Frenchman!"

With the turn of the day and time we repeat the rhapsodies of kindred spirit but, alas, our lips are hyperactive. Thank heaven one justice of the Hon'ble Supreme Court has deviated from the 'sacred hollow' of the sanctum of the robe and the bench!

Let the Supreme Court's supremacy be expressed in 'Salus populi suprema est lex.' (welfare of the people is the ultimate law). Some dare, some hope.

Bengali as she is misspoke: what do we do? A standard dictionary perhaps. The 'Collins Cobuild English Language Dictionary' is the most formidable of dictionaries yet published. 'Shag' has so many meanings -- for us so easy to look up the dictionary and learn.

Our Academy is not yet up to it, I guess. Do evil spirits prowl at night and create things? Like the phenomenal shaheed sculpture welcoming a visitor, reader, a wayfarer, charlatan or a haberdasher, a moonshiner or an escroc.

But most others are serious I swear, young and old, writers and readers. What shame that we could not pull up courage and honour the real seulptor and not the mountebank!

Ekushey of intimations is now transformed, made into Metastasis 'defeat is not known, nor is it sung in bengalee lore.'

It is the truth, the reality, the bengalee soul. Ekushey is our celebration.

Wali-ur Rahman, former diplomat and secretary to the government, is director of a think tank.

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