It’s been one year since the literary genius of the country Humayun Ahmed passed away; One year since as Arundhuti Roy would put it ‘a Humayun shaped hole in the Universe’ has been created- a void yet to be filled, a void unlikely to be filled. His contribution to Bengali literature is massive. Even Taslima Nasrin agreed to his ingenuity saying that “he created readers in the country”; People used to throng to Boi Mela for a reason. This article is not however about Humayun Ahmed’s contribution to literature something which has already been talked about enough by the country’s literary experts. This article is about those for whom Humayun Ahmed used to pen out those timeless characters- his fans. Here is what a few out of his million ardent fans had to say about the bond they share with his work.
“I still remember my brother handing out ‘Himur Hate koyekti Nilpadmo’ to me saying ‘read it moja pabi’. Since then I probably have been reading only Humayun Ahmed’s books. I don’t know what exactly binds us to his stories- is it his narration or some other factor, but every time I read his books I feel like I am the protagonist”- Explains Talha, a high school grad. “I proudly show off my collection of Humayun Ahmed’s books to my friends- Certainly my most valued possession”.
Bonnishikha Chowdhury doing her BBA says “I have been reading his books since 6th grade or so I think. For me his books are a doorway to the society and to everything happening around me which I normally wouldn’t notice. His books have taught me about history, politics, psychology and so much more! I always wanted to think like Misir Ali, be free like Himu and be as intelligent as Shuvro. I still can remember whenever any political unrest raised in the country I used to wait for his writings on that situation like anything because I would believe his words blind folded. – such was my bond with his work”.
Zarif, also an UG student, says his connection with Humayun Ahmed’s works is deep rooted. “You hear HP fans saying they have grown up with this character, I’ll say I have grown up with H.A’s characters. Not just one or two but all of his protagonists are people you and I have known or met at some point in our lives.” Zarif, a hard-core Himu fan, says “Himu is probably someone everyone aspires to be, I am no different. My cousins would tease me for getting a yellow Punjabi and roaming around on streets bare footed.” However Zarif understands it’s not the attire that makes Himu what he is rather the depth and mystery in the character. “I always wished I was him. It felt like a part of me died when Himu died along with Humayun Ahmed”.
Sadia Ghazi, studying at the Wayne State University, has a different case. “Despite growing up in The States the popularity of Humayun Ahmed is not unknown to me. However it was during his death that I got to understand the gravity of his fame.” Sadia is so moved by the devotion of his fans that she is now keen to learn to read Bangla so that she can get the real essence of his work. “I don’t want to go for translation, that way you don’t get the true zest of a book”.
As for myself I still remember being mesmerized by the book ‘Nil Hati’ while in junior school having no idea then of who Humayun Ahmed was. Little did I know this writer had so many more spellbinding works down his bag which would continue to amaze me for years to come. Through Brihonnola I got introduced to the superlative Misir Ali while Moyurakkhi got me to know the mysterious Himu (This writer is team Misir Ali). I would stroll through the library alleys to find a book with his name on it or sit by the window reminiscing the book I have just finished, something typical of all Humayun Ahmed fans I reckon. The bond we fans share with his work is extremely personal and beautiful, and like everything beautiful- inexplicable.
What separated him from others was the fact that he did not try to ‘preach’ through his work talking about saints and satan. Instead he pinpointed the saint and satan residing in every man, in an effortless manner. He took a commoner from street and transformed him into a character with unimaginable depth via vivid insights into his mind and thoughts. His books weren’t an escape from reality rather a submersion into reality and that his how he caught his readers off-guard.
Great writers do not always tell great stories, they tell stories in a great way. His captivating narration has bound generations to his stories; the literary community of Bangladesh has a lot to be thankful for to him. As for his fans the shock of his demise is yet too much for us to absorb; it still feels unreal. The closest I got to him was at his funeral. Yet I look forward to the Boi Mela, to the crowd infront of Anyaprakash; May be someday I will catch him giving out autographs and be lucky enough to push through to the front and place my fresh copy of ‘Himu’r………or Misir Ali’r………….’ infront of him-To be signed Humayun Ahmed!