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An ode to Sunil from successors

A session on Uttaradhikar (succession) was dedicated to Sunil Gangopadhyay, who passed away in end-2012. On stage were a poet from a succeeding generation immersed in the master’s poetry and a translator who has helped two of his novels reach a wider audience.

Srijato said he grew up regarding all girls in school as Neera, to whom Gangopadhyay had addressed a series of romantic poems. “My love of Sunilda was born out of a love for Neera.” So powerful was this adulation that he would wait outside the ABP office, where Gangopadhyay worked, for days on end for a glimpse. “One day I finally approached him for an autograph. He asked me what I did. When I timidly told him I wrote poems, he warmly asked me to carry on.”

Srijato got closer to his idol when two of his four submissions were chosen for Krittibas, which Gangopadhyay edited. “In the last decade or so, I was family to him.”

Then there was Aruna Chakravarti. “Sunilda read my Rabindrasangeet translations and asked me to translate Sei Somoy.” Having just signed the contract to translate Srikanto, she could not take it up. “Years later, I was told he had refused other translators and was waiting for me to be free.... he never wanted to see the manuscript even after I was asked to chop parts of the story."

Gangopadhyay’s language drew paeans from both. “His lucidity makes him easier to translate than Tagore or Saratchandra,” said Chakravarti, adding that the man’s modesty was reflected in his language. “He was a scholar yet he wrote in a way so everyone could understand him.”

Added Srijato: “It wasn’t as if he evolved this language. He has been hitting sixes from the first ball. But he was uncomfortable discussing his poetry. He would rather recite.” Inspired by him today’s poets took a conscious decision to use everyday language. “Sunilda broke barriers. He had no inhibitions in life, or in his poetry. Our inheritance is this boundless language,” he summed up.