Dhaka Courier

An autobiography in the style of a novel

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Sirazud Dahar Khan, a writer and social worker, has written about the life of Haider Khan, one of his friends and neighbours. Writer Dahar Khan met Haider Khan often on the street and sometimes at home or elsewhere and listened to his interesting experiences in life and wrote down these on paper. The compilation has made a book of real stories entitled Khansaheber Khandajeeban (Pieces of Mr. Khan’s Life), published by Bateshwar Barnon in February 2020.

Readers will hardly find it difficult to realize that Haider Khan is none but the other self of the author of this book. It may be because the author did not feel confident to present it as an autobiography or because he wanted to critically look at his own self from outside and try to give an objective view to his description, which he has been partly successful to do.

But is it important for us or anyone to read and know anything about the life of Dahar Khan? The answer to this question might have been ‘no’ if the author had not made it, firstly, interesting and, secondly, representative of a time when the leftist movement was strong in the country. The author’s life as a theater activist in the Rajshahi University campus and as a cultural activist in Hatiya, Noakhali, during his job in an NGO gives a good example of the burning passion, commitment and sincerity in the activities of Bangladesh Lekhok Shibir in its period of youth in our history.

Pabna during the liberation war in 1971 is seen through the author’s boyish eyes full of passion for freedom. There is a very moving story of his baby brother dying in his mother’s arms on a bullock cart during their fleeing from home towards a village and then nearly miraculously getting life back in that most tumultuous period of our history. During his university days when he had been playing the role of a snake charmer with real snakes hanging round his neck in a street drama, his father’s death brought him home putting his education life at risk which, in fact, he didn’t care about at all and ultimately changed the course of his life. He, considered a good-for-nothing boy among family members and close relations, took up the challenge of looking after the family and jumped into the uncertain sea of searching jobs.

The biggest change happened before that when he was a school boy. The boy started to solve maths and other problems in the text books in his own way and one day hit upon a truth that began to eat him away and still does. He came to realize that life was zero plus zero plus zero resulting in a big zero. He began to fall into acute depression. He could find no meaning in life and to him life appeared to be no more than a machine slowly rolling down without any direction and purpose. Yet, Dahar since his childhood was extremely able to hide his true self and continue to go on staying out of home most of the time and having fun and amusement with friends.

Maybe, Dahar’s joining the left movement and a theater troupe in his university life was an effort to escape from that state of acute depression and find some meaning of life in the struggle for freeing the working poor from oppression. Now he feels most proud for his life full of great charm and struggle in those student days. The yearning for having that life back still burns in his staggering heart of today. He is a ‘so-called’ successfully established man now. Yet, the author never sought this type of success and feels unhappy too see the same oppression, exploitation, injustices and other human sorrows around him.

When three rings were to be put on his ailing heart in the operation theater, he had joked lying on the hospital bed and requested the doctor to put the ring on him so hard that it could never be taken away. The lady doctor replied that no one could ever take these away from him even by hitting these with a hammer. The book is full of many such jokes and witty remarks. The story of the author’s marriage arrangement is the most interesting of all.

After starting to read, it will be hard for a reader to put the book away without finishing it. Khansaheber Khandajeeban is nearly a novel in its taste and style.

  • DhakaCourier
  • Issue 35
  • Vol 36
  • Alamgir Khan
  • An autobiography in the style of a novel
  • Sirazud Dahar Khan
  • Khansaheber Khandajeeban

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