Review: Dr. Gulshan Ara Kazi’s Kazi Nazrul Islam -Maya
By: Mohammad Jashim Uddin
Dr. Gulshan Ara Kazi is a prominent senior scientist of Cancer Drug Development. In her professional work, she has faced obstacles from different parts of society. In order to overcome the obstacles, she has taken the inspiration from Nazrul and Maya. She is completely influenced by them and has got success. So, she has decided to go through them intensively. Last twenty five years she has done hard work and finally she has written the book to share her feelings.
Including ‘Introduction’ and ‘Conclusion’, the book contains ten chapters: ‘Brief historical background’, ‘Lyrics of Kazi Nazrul Islam and Maya Angelou’, ‘Equality and Human Rights’, ‘Inspirational’, ‘On labor Rights’, ‘Spirituality’, ‘Romanticism’ and ‘Poverty and Hungers’. Besides these, the book contains a ‘Glossary’, a ‘Bibliography’ and a ‘Appendix’.
We know Kazi Nazrul Islam was a poet, novelist, lyricist, composer, singer, short story writer, film maker, dramatist, journalist, social activist and a freedom fighter. And similarly Maya Angelou is a poet, singer, dancer, autobiographer, film maker, dramatist, journalist, and avid social activist. The easy one comes from Bangladesh (then it was undivided British-India) and the later one is from America.
In ‘Introduction’, Dr. Gulshan Ara Kazi strongly highlights the poetic and personal qualies of Kazi Nazrul Islam and Maya Angelou. She claims both ‘have proven themselves to be the champions of humanity, equality, global peace and harmony’. That is why; they epitomize the ultimate strength of human beings. Moreover both of them have struggled against the ‘insurmountable over obstacles’ of the ‘cruel tyranny’ to establish humanity and they get success because of their talents, enormous courage, energy, and determination’. They have also proven if one wants to reduce his/her goal, s/he must have ‘strong principle, conviction and determination’.
Why has Dr. Kazi chosen them to discuss in a single book, though they have come from different nations, races, religions, sexes and countries? In reply, she explains the reason that ‘They believed in a world of equality, peace and harmony. Their appeals are untenably universal and I strongly believe that they will continue to show ways to build a harmonious world.’
In the very second chapter named ‘Brief historical background’, Dr. Kazi depicts briefly their life history and focuses their works. She has also touched why both have used their pens against the colonial power. In favor of Nazrul, she tells that ‘at that time, the British were ruling India with brutal force and the political and social tapestry of India were tainted with violence and nobly riots. As a proud of India, Nazrul was deeply disturbed by the British occupation of India.’
Nazrul, no doubt, came with a mission to preach equality and establish truth and justice. An exceptionally brave, dynamic, charismatic and confident man having a burning desire to change the world while working at a full speed but he was suddenly stopped by a cruel blow from his ill fate. But where he gets the idea for being revolutionary is also disclosed here. She informs that ‘He was vocal on international politics. In reference to the revolution of the Indians against British rule Nazrul talked about Bolshevik revolution and Turkish independence.
After a brief saying about Nazrul, Dr. Kazi briefs on Maya Angelou. As Maya is an African American black women, she ‘was a victim of racial discrimination’ and ‘had to move from place to place for searching job’; but she failed to manage a job though she was one of the most talent students of that time in America. Even she ‘had to travel in a public bus, get a rental apartment and to admit her son to a public school!’ Meeting James O Killens in 1959, she was asked to restart her career as a writer. As she followed him, she produced some marvelous writing by this time and met some great writers of the time like Rosa Guy, Paul Marshall, and Julian Mayfield and so on. Hearing the greatest speech of Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1960, ‘she was involved with international politics and began her pro-Castro movement around the same time and joined Nelson Mandela in anti-apartheid activism’. The rest of the chapter tells about her career.
The next two chapters are ‘Lyrics of Kazi Nazrul islam and Maya Angelou’ and ‘Equality and Human Rights’. Citing Winston E Langley, Dr. Kazi says Nazrul is ‘A moral giant’ because he ‘wrote boldly and political rights and dignity and against religious fanaticism.’ As people were being discriminated against on the basis of religion, race, cast and gender, economic and political affiliation, ‘through his poems, songs, articles and powerful editorials Nazrul repeatedly pronounced that all human beings deserve to be free and treated with equal respect and dignity.’
Similarly Maya Angelou has never ‘compromised her principles’ with white cruel American oppressors. ‘Feeling the crunch of social bigotry, she desperately needed to search for roots.’ Finally after a long time she has got her roots and become proud of her roots and been an avid ‘spokes person for equality of all human being’. Showing their ‘close resemblance’ , Dr. Kazi sets some poems of Nazrul named ‘Proclamation of Equality’ (Shammabadi) , ‘Human’(Manush), ‘Women’(Nari), ‘O the Young Ones, Wake Up’(Jagore Tarun Dal) and some poems of Maya Angelou named ‘Human Family’, ‘Equality’, ‘Sons and Daughters’ and ‘Abundant Hope’ so that we can understand their mentality easily.
The next chapter is ‘Inspirational’. Discussing the chapter Dr. Kazi says, ‘Courage was one of the most outstanding qualities common between Nazrul and Maya.’ They has struggled throughout their lives, lived through tremendous hardship and emerged as winners. Using their own experience they talked about the most invisible power of human beings. They call upon the unprivileged ones and urge them to be brave and resolute to overcome all barriers. Through their highly acclaimed writings they have repeatedly reminded us of the indomitable power of human mind.
Both of them have some out-standing poems which inspire people to fight against unjust. The inspirational poems are ‘The Rebel’(Bidrohi), ‘O the Starved, deprived, Shackled one, rise up’, (Jago anashana bondi Other Jate) ‘The Marching trumpet is playing up in the sky’(Chol Chol Chol) , ‘Crossing the rough terrain’ (Durgama Giri Kanter Moru’, ‘Still I Rise’, ‘Caged Bird’, ‘On the Occasion of Oprah Winfrey’s Fiftieth Birthday’ and so on. Dr. Kazi has discussed the poems side by side.
The next chapter ‘On labor Rights’ is the smallest one. Here one of Nazrul’s poems named ‘The Labor’ (Kooli Majur) and one of Maya’s poems named ‘Worker’s song’ have been discussed.
The following chapter ‘Spirituality’ is not larger too. In order to highlight the spirituality of them Dr. Gulshan Ara Kazi discussed ‘Welcoming the goddesses of joy’ (Anado Moyeer Agonone), ‘O, Nataraj, and dance with ecstasy ’(Srijan Chande Anande)‘Give me patience, O thou lofty Lord’ (Dau Shoria dou Darja), ‘I’m a Christian’, ‘Just like job’ and ‘Vigil-Celebration: Rituals of Peace and Prayer’.
The other chapter is ‘Romanticism’. A close resemblance can also be noticed between Nazrul and Maya’s expressions of love and sorrow. Nazrul wrote over 1000 songs on love and romanticism. However, majority of the songs speaks on love and romanticism. At the age of 20, he went to Comilla and met Sydeda, a beautiful young girl. Nazrul was fascinated by her charm and named her Nargis. This was a love at first sight and led to their marriage. However, because of family problems their marriage didn’t work and it ended on very night of wedding. Later, Nazrul wrote many songs and poems, describing his person of love named ‘Bodhu tomar amar ei je Biraha’, ‘Tomari ami chahiachi prio’, ‘Aro katadin baki’ so on are telling about her romance.
Maya was married two times; however, at the age of nineteen she fell passionately in love with Curley, a Navy officer. At that time she was working as a waiter in a restaurant in New Orleans. For her, it was also love at first sight. In a conversation Curley told Maya that he had a girl friend in San Francisco and his plan was to marry her soon after she returns to New Orleans. But Maya was so much in love with Curley that she refused to accept the reality. However, despite all her passion their romance didn’t last long and Curley decided to go back to his girl friend. This incident was devastating for her and made her totally distraught. And, her expressions of love and sorrow may have been influenced by this incident. Maya’s some poems named ‘Refusal’, ‘The Gamut’, and ‘Poor Girl’ and so on.
But romanticism means not only love making but also some other aspects which Dr. Kazi has not discussed here. As a result, the chapter remains incomplete.
Basically the last main chapter is ‘Poverty and Hunger’. Discussing two poems of Nazrul and Maya, Dr. Kazi has tried to prove that the writings are true reflection of their own lives.
In ‘Conclusion’, nothing is new but the explanation of Dr. Kazi why she has been influenced by Nazrul and Maya. She says, “I have always been an admirer of Kazi Nazrul Islam and Dr. Maya Angelou and considered them as the champion of high morality and courage”. In their minds ideas of justice and beauty coexisted. They encouraged the very best and the worst of human characters and created their own standards to judge them. According to them, people should be judged by two parameters: ‘their Moral and gender, economic or social background’.
At the end of the discussion we can claim that Dr. Gulshan Ara Kazi has tried to introduce Nazrul to the outside of the country and show how the other deprived people like Maya Angelou are fighting against the tyranny and racial colonialism. So, we believe the book will help the readers to be influenced to be brave against the oppressors.
Mohammad Jashim Uddin is lecturer, Department of English, Northern University Bangladesh