Today is the 107th birth anniversary of our rebel Poet Kazi Nazrul Islam.

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One of my early childhood memories is that of visiting Nazrul. It was probably the fashion of early seventies to go visit Nazrul. I remember, me with my mother and some aunts, waited in line for long time before getting to enter the room where Nazrul was sitting.

Nazrul, as I can remember, was visibly angry and probably uncomfortable at being treated like a zoo inhabitant.
The room was full of people, visitors like us was passing in a line, and a room full of musicians singing Nazrul’s songs.
And Nazrul’s attention was apparently on the fly which was trying to sit on his nose.
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After falling ill in 1942, Nazrul quickly became irrelevent. Wife Pramila died, financial, physical handicap slowly overwhlemed the rebel poet. Wikipedia puts the rest of his life this way,

He entered a world of increasing isolation, until 1972, when the newly formed nation of Bangladesh rediscovered him. He was taken to Dhaka and honoured as the national poet. However, Nazrul’s physcial and mental condition never improved, and he died on August 29, 1976. In accordance with a wish expressed in one of his poems, he was laid to rest beside a mosque on the campus of the University of Dhaka.

Now three decades later I ask myself, was, what we did with Nazrul those days, fair way to treat a severely demented person? May be he was the national hero. Did any of us ever saw Ronald Reagan after he got Alzheimer’s?

I still don’t understand the rational to ship Nazrul out of calcutta to Dhaka. Nazrul was born in Bardwan in West Bengal and spent most of his adult life in Calcutta. Does it mean that Nazrul, because he is a muslim is ours and Rabindra Nath Tagore not ours because he is a Hindu?

Nazrul

Or, Bangladesh, a new born state, needed a national icon like Nazrul to promote and solidify Bengali muslim nationalism? Did it serve it’s purpose?