Poet Nirmalendu Goon: Poet of Bangabandhu

Hiren Pandit: Even before the dawn of independence, Poet Nirmalendu Goon penned poems that would later become a testament to his deep connection with Bangabandhu. When Sheikh Mujib was incarcerated for his audacious presentation of the 6-point Bengali Emancipation Charter, the poet, then a mere 22 years old, composed the poignant ‘For Covers’, disregarding the bloodshot eyes of the Pakistani military ruler.

This powerful piece was published in a daily newspaper on 12 November 1967. In 1969, Nirmalendu Goon further immortalized Bangabandhu in the Hulia poem. Recognizing his profound literary contributions, the literary paper ‘Lok’ bestowed upon him the title ‘Poet of Bangabandhu’. The poet was later honored in a special ceremony for his unique literature about Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, where the cover of the book ‘Tarunnya Spardhito Uchaaron’ (Courageous Utterance of the Youths), a collection of poems dedicated to Bangabandhu by young poets, was unveiled.

Poet Nirmalendu Goon, the ‘Poet of Bangabandhu ‘, has penned numerous poems about the revered leader, a testament to his well-deserved honor. His poetic journey began in his youth. However, the poet’s disappointment was palpable when he did not receive any recognition from the Awami League, despite being hailed as Bangabandhu’s poet in the newspaper. He expressed his pride when a literary magazine bestowed upon him the title of ‘Poet of Bangabandhu’. Yet, it was a bittersweet victory, as he believed that this honor should have been bestowed by the Awami League, not a newspaper.

Poet Nirmalendu Goon’s “Freedom” – how this word is ours to write a poem with the excitement of waiting for millions of crazy, impatient, rebellious listeners sitting on the ground of Suhrawardy (Jansamudur’s) udyan from dawn. When will the poet come?

This children’s park was not that day, this tree-lined garden was not that day, and this drowsy faded afternoon was not that day. But it was almost noon when the poet came and stood on the public stage with a spartan face. So, how was that afternoon? So how was the heart of Dhaka covered in the children’s park, benches-trees, and flower gardens? I know all memories of that day had to be erased by Udyata (autocrat) Black Hand.

So, I see poet against poet, field against field, afternoon against afternoon, garden against garden, march against march in this remote desert without poets. O unborn child, O poet of the future, while swinging on the colorful swings of Shishupark (Children Park) you will know everything one day – I am writing the best afternoon story thinking about you.

That day, the garden was different, neither a park nor a flower garden – there was nothing of the kind, only one solid sky, the horizon flooded with dust, and the fields were covered with weeds, green with green. The green of our freedom-loving life mingled with this dusty field’s green.

The dedicated workers from the iron factory with the red cloth on their foreheads and wrists came rushing to this field, the plow yokes on their shoulders, the naked peasants came in droves, the bright youths who took away the weapons of the police, death in their hands, dreams in their eyes came the middle class, the lower middle class, the pitiful clerks, the old persons, women, sex workers, the vagabonds and children like yours for gathering leaves. What an anxious wait people wait for a poem to be read. “When will the poet come?”

“When will the poet come?” After a hundred years of hundred struggles, the poet came and stood on the podium like Rabindranath. Then the water rose in a great bright stream; the heartfelt a wave, the tide woke up in the sea, and all the doors were opened – who can stop his thunderous words? Shaking the stage of the mass people (Ganasurja), the poet recited his immortal poem: “This time’s struggle is our liberation struggle, this time’s struggle is freedom’s struggle.”

After the killing of the Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, and his family, a frightening situation was created throughout the country. The assassination gang and the then-military government tried to erase the name of Bangabandhu. As a result, people who were shocked by the demonic killing were afraid to express their grief and protest. After 1975, a handful of poets, writers, and artists risked their lives and highlighted Bangabandhu in their works. He published various works of art and literature about him. He also published some critical historical compilations about Bangabandhu with courage. Even in the difficult times after August 15, 1975, love for Bangabandhu has been boldly expressed in art and literature.

Bangabandhu’s brutal murder has been protested in various branches of art and literature. Poet Nirmalendu Goon showed courage for the first time in the 1977 Bangla Academy’s 19th poetry recital during the dark time after the assassination of Bangabandhu. He recited the first poem written about Bangabandhu, ‘I have not come to ask anyone for blood today’. In the poem, he wrote- ‘Like everyone else, I love roses very much, / One of those roses yesterday while crossing the race course / told me that I should speak about Sheikh Mujib in poetry. / I have come to speak about him.” Created a remarkable sensation among the audience present at the academy.

A dot of light was seen in the darkness. The poem was spread far and wide by the enthusiastic audience. Poet Nirmlendu Goon wrote the most poems about Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the greatest Bengali nation of a thousand years ‍and Father of the Nation. Poet Nirmalendu Good has earned the distinction not only for the title of writing the most poems but also for the honor of writing the first poem on Bangabandhu. He wrote a complete poetry book about Bangabandhu. Poet Nirmalendu Goon said, ‘Sometimes I feel that my life as a poet was born to write poems about Bangabandhu.

When I read Bangabandhu’s six-point program and saw that it was a blessing for the country’s liberation, I started writing poetry then. On the poet’s birthday in 1978, Awami League leader Begum Sajeda Chowdhury gifted Jibanananda’s poetry collection to the poet. In that book, he called the poet ‘Bangabandhu’s poet.’ They were remembering him. Bangabandhu was called the ‘Poet of Politics’ by the weekly Newsweek (5 May 1971 issue). ‘Poet of Bangabandhu’ preserves the continuity of Bangabandhu’s life.” Poet Nirmalendu Goon wrote one of his most acclaimed poems, ‘Swadhinata Shabdati kihabhabe amader holo (Freedom how this word is ours)’, from the inspiration of the March 7 speech.

He addressed Bangabandhu as a ‘poet’ in the poem. Wrote, “The poet shook the stage of mass people (Ganasurja) and sounded his immortal poem.” He said Bangabandhu’s March 7 speech was not written anywhere. He was confident. Someone from Bangabandhu seemed to be conveying word after word to his voice.

I addressed Bangabandhu as a ‘poet’ in the poem. By reading the text, the children of the new generation can learn about Bangabandhu’s speech and understand it. Poet Nirmalendu Goon first recited the poem to their father, Sukhendu Prakash Goon, while sitting at Netrakona’s. “Father said he could remember Bangabandhu by listening to the poem. It was then that I realized that the poem was self-serving, that my purpose had been successful.’

The poem was originally published in 1980 in Saptahik Sachitra Sandhani. Later, it was included in Chashabhushar Kabya (The Book of Common People/Cultivators) in 1981. Poet Nirmalendu Goon regretted not giving the title of the Awami League ‘Poet of Bangabandhu. Poet Nirmlendu Goon was disappointed not getting the title from Awami League despite being called Bangabandhu’s poet in the newspaper. Poet Nirmalendu Goon said that Bangabandhu believed in a non-communal spirit. He dreamed that an independent, sovereign Bangladesh would be a country of non-communal spirit. He wanted to establish Bangladesh as a place free from hunger, poverty, and exploitation.

Bangabandhu’s 6 points were the charter of Bengali liberation. This was the slogan of Bengali liberation. Renowned poet Nirmalendu Goon said these things at a virtual discussion meeting titled “Art-Literature and Bangabandhu” at Barisal University on the occasion of the birth centenary of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Poet Nirmalendu Goon wrote the first poem about the Father of the Nation, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. In conversation with him, all the unknown events and background of Sheikh Mujib and his poetry came up. It is natural for people to die and the living to grieve.

The source of all grief is sometimes popular countrymen, sometimes famous poets, writers, artists, and philosophers, sometimes an apolitical humanitarian, and sometimes a loved one who is completely unknown. The Poet Nirmlendu Goon understood that ‘Bangladesh and Bangabandhu’ are not opposites but complementary, two synonymous words.

Poet Nirmalendu Goon loves mother, soil, and motherland more than himself. The example of patriotism he set is scarce. He was whole-heartedly involved with the six-point movement of 1966. After that, no disasters before and after independence were left out; every time this state went astray, he took up the pen and wrote one class struggle and anti-dictatorship poems. He was the foremost among the poets and writers who remained vocal about Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in a hostile political environment. Poet Nirmalendu Goon holds freedom, Bangabandhu, liberation war, national spirit, history, and tradition; Sometimes a revolutionary, sometimes a lover.

His voice is constantly raised in favor of the life of familiar people. His poetry contains pluralism, social responsibility, and various themes. The noticeable features of his poetry are diversity of subject matter, spontaneity, and combination of humanity with emotion. This is probably why his poetry is widely read and at its peak of popularity. His poetry is a unique collection of artistry, which has anointed him as one of the leading poets of Bengali poetry and has been recognized by the state and society long ago.

The writer is an essayist, researcher and columnist.

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