Nazrul wrote poetry in the notebook of the woman who went to Darjeeling

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Nazrul went to Darjeeling in 1931. Went and met a storyteller known as Jahanara Chowdhury. He wrote poetry in his notebook. Nazrul’s Narak Gulzar’s story.

Nazrul was taken to Darjeeling by Calcutta publisher Manoranjan Chakraborty. The unwritten agreement was that the poet would compose Maru Bhaskar, the biography of Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh), in close seclusion in the picturesque surroundings of Shailashahar. Manoranjanbabu will give the right to publish it in the library.

It was 1931. Scholars differ on the date. But since Nazrul’s first poem written in Darjeeling has the date ‘June 14’ written in the poet’s own hand, it can be assumed that he had reached there before that.

This visit greatly stimulated the poet physically and mentally. He lost his beloved son Bulbul just a year ago. Among them, his poetry book Praloy-Shikha was confiscated, meanwhile he was again sentenced to prison and suddenly released in March 1931. All in all, in his mental state, there is no doubt that Manoranjanbabu’s proposal came as ‘Barish Chhata-Majhe Shanti Bari’.

But did poor Manoranjan know that in search of solitude he had come through such a mountainous path with the poet, there was already a possibility of a festival! A day or two after Nazrul’s arrival, the rest of the arrangements were completed. The celebration began. Manoranjanbabu’s forehead burned!

In fact, immediately before and after Nazrul’s arrival, many Bengali poets-writers-artists gathered in Darjeeling. Rabindranath Tagore himself was in Darjeeling. He came for a family holiday with Dinendranath Tagore, Rathindranath, Pratima Devi and Maitreyi Devi.

When Jahanara arrived in Darjeeling with his brother Altaf Chowdhury, there is no doubt that Nazrul’s poetic flow will be buoyant, especially when Jahanara himself is a little bit arrogant and demands that poetry should be written on his notebook pages and not elsewhere.

There are two poets in the same city, they should not meet! Akhil Niyogi, Manmath Raya grabbed Nazrul and told him to go to meet Rabindranath under his leadership. Nazrul also agreed. He appeared to Rabindranath with a large army. Rabindranath was also very happy to get Nazrul. Akhil Niyogi wrote, ‘That day the poet was engaged in jokes and lively conversation. There was no limit to his joy especially when he got Nazrul close.’

Later many people wrote about this meeting of Rabindra-Najrul. Even investigative newspapers like ‘Saturday Letter’ published this news in their own style.

Another close friend of Nazrul, Dhaka College Principal Surendranath Maitra and his talented and beautiful daughter Notan Maitra also arrived earlier. Nazrul used to go to Surendranath’s house every day, with only one purpose, to listen to Noton’s piano playing. Depressing Manoranjan’s mind, when Nazrul was gathering night and evening singing sessions with dramatist Manmath Roy, Akhil Niyogi and other writer-literary friends, the news came – ‘Natya-Niketane’ Prabodh Chandraguh Sadle arrived in Darjeeling. Artist Niharbala is in that group. In the words of Akhil Nyogiri, ‘Hell has become a real mess.’

Niharbala sang in Nazrul’s play. Coming to Darjeeling gave me an opportunity to rekindle that memory. Akhil Niyogi says, ‘We all started swimming in the ocean of sound. When Niharbala stops, Kazida picks up the harmonium again, like a fountain of unhindered music. Daburbharti paan, jordar kouta on the side, frequent cups of tea along with melodious music. I will never forget the joy we had in Darjeeling with Nazrul.’

Just as Akhil Niyogi could not forget Nazrul’s companionship, Nazrul also could not forget his joyous trip for the rest of his life. Because, within this visit, he formed a very close relationship with Jahanara Chowdhury. Jahanara Chowdhury was a storyteller and editor of a newspaper named ‘Vorshbani’. These Jahanas are the children of the largest Muslim zamindar family in North Bengal and Bihar. Writers of that time were excited about his form and qualities. As Prabodhkumar Sanyal wrote, ‘Once upon a time, a literary enthusiast and a young lady appeared out of nowhere in the writer’s society. The girl’s beauty and youthfulness attract everyone’s attention. His sweet face, sweet smile, polite manners and sincere affection for every writer—made him a favorite of all in no time.’

Kazi Motahar Hussain’s daughter Jobaida Mirya called Jahanara Chowdhury a ‘famous beauty’, Mahmud Nurul Huda Uchhbas—’a wonderful beautiful woman’, and according to Bande Ali Mia, ‘Jahanara is an outstanding beauty’.

When Jahanara arrived in Darjeeling with his brother Altaf Chowdhury, there is no doubt that Nazrul’s poetic flow will be buoyant, especially when Jahanara himself is a little bit arrogant and demands that poetry should be written on his notebook pages and not elsewhere.

Nazrul now went up to the dak bungalow where Jahanara and her brother Altaf had gone up. Jahanara’s nickname is Meera. Nazrul filled his book with many poems by writing ‘Meerake, Darjeeling’. Those poems were long unpublished, hidden from the public eye. But some time before her death, Jahanara felt, ‘I had so long kept them to myself like a private priceless treasure. They have been unknown for so long, now it is time to release them into the light.’

Belatedly, due to this realization, some of Nazrul’s unpublished poems came to the court of the reader. All poems are about love. So Nazrul’s Darjeeling episode is also exposed a lot, although Jahanara wrote, ‘It would be wrong to think that these poems were written for someone.’ Jahanara may have wanted to be a little independent from her own side by writing this at her last age. But the poet’s ‘intention’ will ultimately be found by his readers and researchers.

As I said earlier, Manoranjanbabu’s work was not achieved, the desert sculpture was not completed during his visit to Darjeeling, but meeting Rabindranath, listening to Noton’s piano playing, singing songs with Niharbala, above all, filling the pages of Jahanara Chowdhury’s book with songs and poetry, the poet spent some wonderful time of his life in Darjeeling.

Credit: ‘Hidden in the Line of Writing: Unpublished Poems and Songs of Kazi Nazrul Islam’, Editor: Abdul Mannan Syed, Nazrul Institute, 1998.

 

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