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Writer of many parts


Shudhu kobitaar janye aami amaratva taachchhilya karechhi (I have disregarded immortality for poetry alone)”

Writers who knew Sunil Gangopadhyay well tussled long and hard with this line of his from the the poem Kobitar Janye at a memorial programme recently organised by the Sahitya Akademi. None of the interpretations satisfied everyone, and as the forum dissolved into personal reminiscences and tributes, it was clear that Gangopadhyay’s death on October 23 had left a void that would be hard to fill.

Leading lights from Calcutta’s literary scene attended the event, divided into sessions for poetry, fiction and children’s literature.

Nirendranath Chakraborty, who inaugurated the session, recalled writing to Gangopadhyay (then in his late-teens) to congratulate him for a poem he had submitted to an anthology. The two grew close over the years and used to meet every Saturday to watch films. They even travelled together to various places at home and abroad.

Manabendra Bandyopadhyay recalled adda sessions with Gangopadhyay in various cabins and coffee houses. The late writer’s friends like Pranab Kumar Mukhopadhyay recalled his years of struggle and stand for the Hungryalists. Srijato spoke of Gangopadhyay’s search for poetry that would express spontaneous and raw feelings.

Bani Basu suggested that Gangopadhyay’s style may actually have been a consciously honed “styleless” style. Debasish Bandyopadhyay, a former editor of Anandamela, recalled that Gangopadhyay never saw the Kakababu stories as detective fiction. They were to him adventures of a man who braves disability and danger.

He did not like murder, corruption and complex plots in children’s writings. Though no one referred to it, one could not help remembering the beautifully illustrated and edited magazines and books brought out by the Sishu Kishore Akademi when Gangopadhyay was its president.

Another recent memorial programme for Gangopadhyay, hosted by Crossword on Elgin Road, borrowed the title of his book Eka Ebong Koekjon. The evening of poetry and prose was interspersed with soulful Rabindrasangeet by Sohini Mukhopadhyay.

Conducted and conceived by Sujoy Prosad Chatterjee, the programme presented those who are not familiar with Gangopadhyay’s writings an opportunity to understand their power.

Bijoylakshmi Barman read out Jol Barchhe and actress Sreela Majumdar Jokhon Tumi Ashi. Pranati Tagore recalled how Gangopadhyay played Kabiraj Moshai in an audiobook of Moner Manush. She also read out Gaach tolai dariye and Ke Kake Taanchhe.

Dipanwita Chatterjee read out an English translation of Neera Tumi, Chaitali Dasgupta Je Jai Boluk, Chaiti Ghoshal Ekti Grammo Drisho and Uttoradhikar and Sutapa Bandyopadhyay the poignant Saptam Garver Kanya. Recalling Gangopadhyay’s praise “Dibbo korechho” (You did very well) for Muktodhara, filmstar Rituparna Sengupta read out Naach Khela.

Others who read out Gangopadhyay’s works were Biplab Dasgupta, Suchita Raychaudhury, Arindam Sil and Kanchan Moitra, who reminded the gathering of Gangopadhyay’s lines that roughly meant those who leave, leave; only those who stay behind know how, wiping away tears with the back of one’s hands, one ushers in a smile — “Jara jay tara jay jara thake tara janey, haater ulto pithey kanna muchhe kikorey hashi aante hoy”.

(Contributed by Sebanti Sarkar)