He was a poet, author, linguist, critic, political speaker, researcher and an academic. Yes, we are talking about Humayun Azad, whose literary works earned him many national awards, including the 'Ekushey Padak' (posthumously).
Born in Rarhikhal of Bikrampur on April 28, 1947, he has more than 60 publications to his
credit including seven poetry books, eight juvenile novels, and 12 novels. In 1986 he received the Bangla Academy Award.
Humayun Azad survived an assassination attempt on February 27 in 2004 and died in Germany the same year on August 12. His writings on fundamentalism and radicalism created storms of controversy but he earned popularity among the younger generation.
On his 17th death anniversary, Humayun Azad's elder daughter Mauli Azad talked about her father and his works in a conversation with The Business Standard.
TBS: Tell us something about your father
Mauli Azad: While talking about my father, the first thing I will have to say is that he was a very modern and outspoken person. I never saw my father bow down to anybody.
He was known as a hot-headed person, how was he with you and your siblings as a father?
MA: It is true he had anger management issues but he also had a soft heart. Most people make things unnecessarily complicated because they can, but my father would ignore many things. He was very strict about our studies.
Why was he an unorthodox person? Was he like that in personal life too, how was his personal life?
MA: My baba (father) had a different view of life. However, his personal life was very simple and he lived an ordinary traditional life.
Do all his literary works amuse you equally?
MA: I love his works for the youngsters, I get mesmerised every time I read 'Phuler gondhe ghum ashe na', and 'Abbu ke mone porey'.
It has been 17 years since he passed away, how did you deal with his absence in these years?
MA: It feels like a nightmare. I still think he will be back from the university after taking classes.
What is the status of the murder case?
MA: It is a shame that in 17 years we have not gotten a verdict and the case is still pending.
How would you evaluate Humayun Azad as a writer?
MA: You will hardly find any youngster of the country who has not read 'Lal-nil dwipabali', 'Koto nadi sarobar' or 'Bangla bhashar jiboni'. I was told by many young readers that without reading his books it was impossible to pass the BCS exams.
I wonder how many linguists are out there like him who have worked so much on Bangla language!
When he was found dead in Munich, there were three postcards in his room, addressed to you and your siblings? What did he write to you?
MA: I have kept the letters with care in my closet. It has been years I do not open the letters as they make me emotional. He wrote about German cities but he also mentioned that he was upset. At the end of each letter he wrote, 'You guys take care and stay very, very careful.'
At this point, do you believe that your father's works were important or contemporary?
MA: Yes, I believe so, which is why people are still interested in his work and are buying his books. His quotes and comments are trending on social media platforms often.
How are your family members doing these days?
MA: We are passing days somehow. Here, I want to mention one thing, the amount of respect I receive as Humayun Azad's daughter wherever I go, it fills my heart with pride and joy. When any reader tells me, 'We can not find such a brave and frank person like Sir these days,' that makes me realise how my father influenced his readers.
Actually, that is how my father wanted to be remembered and lead his life.
What initiatives have you guys taken to spread your father's philosophy, and works?
MA: Good question. How many people are actually out there, as brave a writer as Humayun Azad, to spread his philosophy and thoughts? Most of his books are being reprinted on readers' demand. In 2018, his book 'Abbu ke mone porey' was translated in English by Arunabh Singha and it is available on Amazon.