From the Editor-in-Chief: The legacy of Syed Shamsul Haq

Enayetullah Khan
Thursday, September 29th, 2016
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The passing of Syed Shamsul Haq leaves a huge void in the world of Bangladesh’s literature. And it does because Haq was a writer whose multi-dimensional approach to literature, indeed to life, encompassed such areas as poetry, fiction, drama and the autobiographical. The sadness is not that he has passed away at the age of eighty one. It is in the knowledge that he died of a prolonged ailment and at a time when he was in full possession of his creative faculties. Till the end of his life, even as the years encroached on his physical being, he remained focused on what he needed to do, on what he thought he could continue to give the nation. Unlike so many others, Haq’s was a vibrant personality forever ready to create and recreate and reinvent. Even as the twilight of his life approached, he was making plans about what more he needed to do in order to leave a lasting legacy behind.


But his legacy was made long ago, long before the laws of mortality claimed him on Tuesday. In a literary career spanning decades, he observed life around him — in his village, in environs dominated by urban goings-on, in foreign land — and in the manner of a writer suffusing creativity with experience, he created unforgettable literature. In such plays as Payer Awaaj Paowa Jaaye and Nurul Deen-er Shara Jibon, he brought into stark focus the social realism of our times. Haq’s imagination was a constantly working machine which would not stop or step back or rest for a while. There was too much intensity in him to call it a day. His day would not end until the very end, with Nature taking charge of it. And Nature took charge on Tuesday.


But Syed Haq lives on. The rich canvas of literature which defined his adult life, a life which commenced in his early youth, will always be a pointer to the enormous degree of good that literature can do in shaping the human imagination. His plays and his fiction were the outpouring of his thoughts. Once the creativity was done, it was for us to enter that world and become part of it. We knew then that he had spoken for us. And that is literature of a defining kind.


Like so many among us, Syed Haq was a political being. His belief in secular politics, in the power of liberalism to bring about change in Bangladesh never wavered. Not for him fear as expressed in the fury of religious fanaticism, not for him silence that would be regarded as false pragmatism. He was always there, at the forefront of all struggles dedicated to the necessity of putting villainy to flight. The cause mattered to him. He died a soldier, waging war in defence of the national cause.


We mourn his passing, knowing full well that he lives on in our hearts and souls. He has simply transited to history’s pantheon of the great and the good.

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