Humayun Ahmed: Country’s most enduring storyteller

Takir Hossain
Thursday, July 21st, 2016


Fourth death anniversary observed


July 19 marked the fourth death anniversary of eminent writer Humayun Ahmed. He authored many memorable novels, short stories, travelogues, and TV plays. He also brought his considerable talents to reviews, and comments as well as science fiction writing. In his novels, he 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 the city and other parts of the country with a keen eye.


It was at a dinner in the Dhaka Club in 2005 that I met the iconic personality. A cultural organisation, was the host of the dinner. The organisation accorded him a reception in the evening at the Bangla Academy. Poet Mahadev Saha 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 few weeks later, I had another opportunity to meet him at an architect’s apartment in Gulshan.


Through the conversations, I could clearly comprehend how deeply he observed our current literary trends. He was very hopeful about our novels, particularly the experimental trends and variation of the scholarly contents. He was very well informed about our literature. My impression of him has always been of a man who loved life and adored literature. He was secular, soft spoken and amicable.


Humayun’s writings are simple, easily understandable, and poignant and one can easily go through most of them cover to cover in one sitting. His writing works like magic which attracts readers from the core of their hearts compelling them to gobble the whole work up at one go. He is recognised for his outstanding style and alluring language. His series of novels are tremendously popular among readers of all ages. He created an individual language for his short stories and novels. He was a popular writer but 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 novels. Many of his novels are based on the history of the country.


Humayun ushered a new era in Bangladeshi literature. The subject matter of his writings was the life of the middle class. He was gifted with powers to understand the sufferings, pains and happiness of the middle class. His literary way of expression was simple, but, it was saturated with humour, and created a resonance in the inner thought of the readers.


With the publishing of his first book, “Nondito Noroke” in 1972, Humayun Ahmed came into the limelight as a promising young writer. He proved later on that he was not there to be lost among others. His next book, “Shonkhonil Karagar”, was another huge success among the readers. Most of his earlier books were family/social drama. But he proved his talent later on by writing more than a handful of science fictions and horrors/super natural books. He even created a few characters that are known to almost everybody, such as “Himu” (who always wears a yellow punjabi and no sandals) and Misir Ali (the extremely logical person, holding the belief that there’s nothing in his world that cannot be explained scientifically).


Humayun Ahmed had his directorial debut on TV with the series Aai Shob Din Ratri, a very touchy and complicated family drama. That was just the beginning, he went on to make a whole bunch of TV series, some of which are still popular with people.


His movies are one of the very few that takes middle class people to the theaters now a days. Among the obscene and violent movies that are mostly catered towards the lower working class, movies like Aguner Poroshmoni, Dui Duari, Shamol Chaya were like a touch of fresh air.


Humayun’s books have been the top sellers at the Ekushey Book Fair during the 1990s and 2000s. He won the Bangla Academy Award in 1981 and Ekushey Padak in 1994 among many other prizes. He bagged the National Film Awards several times in the categories- Best Story, Best Film and Best Director and Screenwriter. In 2012 he represented the country as a special adviser in the UN.

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