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Wednesday, April 25, 2018

The poetic vision and the power of storytelling

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Earlier our children and young generation would be grown up with beautiful, enchanting and educative fables and poetry. But those days are gone by. At present, in our nuclear families, we have failed to create a strong literary platform for our juvenile readers. As a result our young generations are indifferent to story books or poetry. They only read their textbooks. Consequently, they have been engrossing with mobile phone, computer and other electronic devices to pass their leisure hours. It follows our young generation with blank literary bent of mind.

They have no imagination, no thrilling, no feelings, no moral strength. Eventually, they have been involving themselves with many kinds of anti-social activities, addiction, terrorism, extremist activities. So, it is high time we realized our literary emptiness for our young boys and girls. Such emptiness can be filled up by new creation of juvenile literature like ''Bala's Parables and some innocent verses (Book 1)' of Prof. Harashit Bala. This book first landed on the literary world in 2017. In this book the author kills two birds in one stone.

Part 1 of this book lays down ten stories of different tastes and part 2 comprises of 23 beautiful and lucid poems. The language used here is so easy and lucid, which will be easily understood by the youngsters. In the first part of this book, the author retold some parables based on writing of famous English writers as well as Sanskrit fables. Some writings are his brainchild. The source of first tale 'Justice' is H.W. Long Fellow's famous poem 'Justice'. Here the author's narration is very easy and lucrative.

Then in 'A Valiant Daughter of Bengal' he admirably presents the sacrifice of first female fighter of Swadeshi movement, Priti Lata. After that, our epic poet Madhusudan Dutt's biography and poetic talent is vividly portrayed in 'The Tale of an Epitaph'. Here we can also discover the immense poetic power of the author. Madhusudan's verses are very nicely translated by him.

Then we find a heart-touching story in 'Miracles of a monk'. After that, the author very skillfully describes the livelihood and deeds of Haji Mohammad Mohsin. In 'The Story of A Newspaper Boy' the author narrates in detail the biography and the invention of Thomas Alva Edison, a great inventor of the history. In the light of a Sanskrit fable the story 'The Hermit and The Mouse' bears a great lesson for us.

Then 'A Two-Piece Episode' contains the story of Anan and Ananda with a great intellectual knowledge. 'The Torch Bearer' provides a story of flammable, sympathetic, land ideal teacher, Mr. Mondal. The last fable is borrowed from Daniel Defoe's most adventurous novel 'Robinson Crusoe'. This is one of the largest stories of this book. Robinson Crusoe's struggle for survival is vividly portrayed here. In the second part, we find a healthy blend of metaphysical neo-classical, pantheistic and romantic elements among the 23 verses. Like English poetry of neoclassical period, in the poem 'The Prologue'  the poet surrenders everything to God-

All my pride and all glory
All this glee and all my praise
All my laughter and all smile
For my Master, for His grace.
The next poem titled 'The Poet' addresses the scenic beauty around Ampang, Kuala Lumpur.
They were in a queue.
Neatly arranged I found them all
A painted picture-
The trees, houses and waterfall.

The third verse 'A Secret Hymn' conveys hymn to the beauty of his beloved which inspires him to write down poetry. Then 'Secret Message Sent' is a collection of 15 SMS which reveals a lover's deep love and care for his beloved.

Go to the sun-touch it;
Show'r it over body-n-soul.
Sow the seed of love
And play a farmer's role.
Or,
I swear
I'll take every care
And all your sufferings
Equally share.

'A Reply to Her Offer' is a poem containing modern qualities which encourage non-bridal enjoyment rather enjoyment of bridal chamber. Then in the poem 'I Swear I Mean It' a lover's passionate, aggressive and egoistic love for his beloved is appeared. 'She Lives Next Door' expresses a lover's hidden and undiscovered love for his beloved. On Her Birthday' offers blessing to an unmentioned person, probably the poet's beloved. It may be a riddle for the inquisitive readers. 'A Fellow Warrior' showers thanks to Gen V.K.

Singh who fought for our independence. In 'Your Angel, My Devil' the author explains that good and bad are the two sides of a coin. We find the smell of metaphysical elements here. 'Victory Day 2010' salutes a warrior, his next generation and the motherland for all its sufferings. `Your Two Eyes' is a sensuous love poem. 'A Minority Speaks Aloud' is a touching account of the intolerable sufferings of minority people. Then the poem titled 'I See Her Nowhere' the poet searches for truth & peace. 'Idle Desires' is a poem where the poet laments for the golden past & utters a universal truth-

Death is the truth ultimate;
We must wait for its final bell.
But as long as we inhale
Cultivate love to reap a good harvest.

'A Question' and 'Be a Human' are two poems where the poet's pessimistic mood is expressed. Here he portrays oppressions against the minority people specially the womenfolk. 'A Dying Song' and '14 February' narrate the poet's optimistic philosophy that only love can conquer everything."Cultivate love in every heart, In every heath and hearth;For she alone can bring Heaven down toour earth."

In the poem 'A Message' the poet proclaims a message which can help establish humanity everywhere-'Live well and let live well'. In the last poem 'The Epilogue' the author wants all his words to mingle with all beautiful things of the world.

After all, many of its verses illuminate that some qualities i.e. love, peace, pity, piety and sense of equality irrespective of religion, race, caste, creed, sex or place of birth should be the chief concern for all mankind which is very much crucial in the present age of turmoil. This book has been dedicated to poet's grandma which signifies the flavour of joint family where we enriched ourselves by hearing from our grandparents.

This book ''Bala's Parables and some innocent verses (Book1) can earn fame firstly, because it is written in a very simple manner which attracts readers of all kinds. Secondly, it introduces some foreign classics. Thirdly, it describes valiant activities of some heroes of our homeland which gives strong message of patriotism to our young generations. Fourthly, this book gives joy, fun, education and inspiration as wide range of subjects are accommodated here. Moreover, this book can play a great role to illuminate the thoughts and imagination of our youngsters because I believe only literature is able to bring reforms in society.  To wrap up, I must say that Harashit Bala is a prolific writer who has a good command over language and diction. No doubt, the book would get a large readership.

The reviewer is an Assistant Commissioner to People's Republic of Bangladesh

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