It was at a dinner at the Dhaka Club in 2005 that I met Syed Shamsul Haque. A noted cultural organisation was the host of the dinner. The organisation accorded him a reception in the evening at the VIP Lounge of the National Press Club. Art critic and architect Professor Shamsul Wares introduced me to him. Although he spoke to me warmly, the venue was crowded and I did not get the chance to talk to him at length. Fortunately, just two days later, I had another opportunity to meet him at Poet Rabiul Husain’s apartment in Dhanmondi.
September 27 marked the third death anniversary of the iconic literary personality. Equally adept at prose and poetry, Haque authored many memorable poems, novels, short stories, travelogues, and plays. He also brought his considerable talents to reviews, and comments as well as literature for children. In his novels, Haque created characters -romantic, serious, eccentric, comic and loveable - to which readers readily related, while some characters became larger than life. He explored the ups and downs of urban middle-class life of Dhaka and underprivileged life of people of his native district Kurigram with a keen eye.
"One of the most significant chapters of my life was spent in this city. That’s one of the prime reasons behind my tremendous fascination for the city and its people," Haque said in the course of our conversation. “I feel that I have a strong readership in this country because the contents of my novels have great similarities with the country’s socio-economic, cultural and political aspects,” he added.
I could clearly comprehend how deeply he observed the current literary trends. He was very hopeful about our poems, particularly the experimental trends and variation of the scholarly contents. He was very well informed about our little magazine, poems and experimental fictions and novels. My impression of him has always been of a man who loved life and adored literature. He was secular, soft spoken and amicable. Although a diehard atheist he believed in equal rights for believers of all religions.
Haque’s writings are both simple and complicated, and poignant and one can easily go through most of them cover to cover in one sitting. He is recognised for his outstanding style and alluring language. Above all, he was a poet. His poems and novels are tremendously popular among readers of all ages. He created an individual language for his essays and novels. His writings could reach the territory of the intellectual readers' circle in both Bangladesh and India. Many of his novels' protagonists appeal to the middle class of our society. He splendidly elucidates their hopes, joys, sorrows, family feuds, wants, romances and more. The stories reflect the writer's engaging prose and ability to conjure highly-fascinating stories out of most ordinary daily events. He portrays history, politics and contemporary issues in many of his poems and novels. Many of his novels are based on the history of our country.
Haque loved to paint when he was not writing or thinking about writing. He liked to listen to western classical music, Nazrul Geeti and Rabindra Sangeet. Bob Dylan’s poetry and songs inspired him.
He received every major award there is in the field of literature in the country, among them, the Bangla Academy Award, Ekushey Padak, Independence Day Award, National Poetry Award.