I enjoyed listening to him when he spoke on TV. I was wondering how people talk so beautifully? I like his poetry since long ago. I used to see the man from a distance, never got a chance to get close. Then I met him in front of Bangla Academy at the 2009 book fair, with that familiar bag on his shoulder and a drink in his mouth. When asked to take a picture, he agreed with a smile. Not a word was dared to be said. Then a long pause.
In 2019, I got to know him through a stage play in Toronto. He came to my office. My throat started shaking with fear as I spoke, he opened his magic box. Covered me with the magic of words. Slowly gathering courage I said I am writing poetry and I have a manuscript ready. He wanted to see. I showed courage. He recited a few poems, praised a verse poem. Courage increased a little. I said sir I want to give you my manuscript, if you read it and think it is something then I will print it. He said think about it. A few days later he sent word that he wanted to read the manuscript. I gave it and repeatedly said sir if you like it I will print it. Then he read, one day his daughter called and asked him to go home. After going home, it was time to be surprised. He read my manuscript several times. He liked it very much, named some poems and praised them. I didn’t want to believe what I said this time. I said to sir sir I want to publish the book in this book fair and you have to write the introduction of my book. He said he would but the fair is only a few days away. He said no one will do it now. I am a slave. Later he arranged it. My first book of poetry, Naked Reading, was published.
After that, how many talks, how many meetings. He praised me enthusiastically after watching the stage play written by me and directed by me. The most surprising thing is that whenever I met him anywhere, especially on any occasion, he used to say to me, I thought you would come, I will meet you. I wondered if I was the kind of person or the kind of poet that he would think in his mind when he met me. But he thought. He used to praise my poetry in front of everyone.
Once I met at a picnic, he told me that I read your poem in the newspaper. You arranged it so beautifully, but why didn’t you make it bigger? That’s when I realized how much he likes my poetry. Sometimes I used to go to his daughter’s house and talk about poetry and recite it.
I have spoken to many poets and writers, and at first glance all seem to want to give advice. It would have been better to do it without writing it, do this and do that. But sir is the only person I met who never asked me to change any line or word of the poem. I asked him for the definition of poetry. I said what is poetry sir? He simply said with the magic of his words, the moon has risen over the head of the bamboo garden, what is it that I call my lament Kajala Didi Kai? This is poetry, that means poetry is that which can be easily understood by children and gets embedded in the mind. What a simple definition.
I am crazy about his words, before I thought that he speaks in such a way that I can understand on TV, but later I did not see that he speaks like that at home. What is his knowledge, what is his wisdom and a man of pride. You should learn from him how to weave a garland of words.
I have never heard any controversial talk about politics or religion. I have not heard people talk with pain in their hearts. He gave this education to his sons and daughters properly. His elder son Asif Bhai would hug his chest whenever he met, his daughter would always smile and talk. Saoli acted under my direction and accepted with a smile. And his wife is a wonderful woman. What is simple can not be understood without mixing.
My third book of poetry will be published in the next book fair. I have decided from the beginning to dedicate it to Sir. Preparing the manuscript, I suddenly got news that he is very ill. I told the matter to another dear writer Zakir Talukdar to whom I have dedicated this book of poetry. I told Zakir’s brother that I want to hand over the book to him as long as he is healthy, although the book fair is still a long time away. Zakir’s brother worked day and night to make the book and sent two copies.
I have been in contact with his daughter since I received the book. I hear from you that the situation is getting worse day by day. Difficult to meet. And even if you stand in front of him with a book, it is difficult to tell whether he will understand something or not.
I made the book in such a hurry to give it to sir, I look at the book all day and call you if I can stand in front of him once, if sir says one more time Mustafa I thought I would meet you, then life would have been worthwhile.
Apa texted you this morning that father’s health is not good, time is running out fast, please pray. He got up with a thud in his chest. A very dear person of mine, I said that he is not a poet, as a person he is so great that even his poet is overshadowed. That man is no good, no good is the wizard of my words. My dear Asad Chowdhury.
My dear, I am sitting here arranging my book of poetry for you. Get well again, make your garlands of words, come to any event in the hope that you will see me, cheer me up by praising my poetry in front of everyone. You smile as you hold the book dedicated to you.
There is no more poet in our city, no wizard of words in our city. You are our pride, our pride. Get well and come back to us.
Why is the poet silent in the flower garden?