An equally pert question is raised by Seen Meem Sajid in the editorial of Shdhkar (January 1981): "The reader of literature is not a commodity sold in the open market. He is trained and nourished in cultural institutions which have become
desolate ruins in Bangladesh. In such a context, it would be misleading to infer from the appearance of a handful of periodicals that Urdu has a bright future in this newly independent country." He touches upon another issue by pointing out that "we have become so cut off from other writers that we feel that it is only us who have been subjected to an immense cultural and social anarchy."
This sense of isolation comes up again and again as a grievance against Pakistani writers. They do not want to be treated as curiosities of cultural survival, but as writers getting the attention they merit According to an article by Naushad Noori: "We are always seen against the historical perspective of 1971, and while talking of our work, the writers of India and Pakistan become overwhelmed with a sense of pity and end up by patronizing us. Even our best writers are not acknowledged in terms of their literary merit. They have even forced us to look at ourselves with a contempt born out of defeat." Several writers told me that the three members of the Pakistani delegation to the recent Asian Poetry Festival in Dhaka— all three of them well-known and popular poets—avoided meeting them like lepers. Another instance is cited by Zakir Azizi in the editorial of the November 1986 issue of Intixab. The novelist Razia Fasih Ahmed visited Dhaka to gather material for a novel written with the events of 1971 as a backdrop. She was asked to respond to two questions: Why is it that Pakistani intellectuals never acknowledge the literary activity in Bangladesh? Is it because of ignorance or indifference? Why have they never tried to maintain any links with the Urdu writers active in Bangladesh? The Pakistani novelist remarked that she will go back to Pakistan and call a commission to prepare answers! It seems that even Pakistani writers have leamt the politician's trick of handing over to commissions the questions they do not want to answer.
While Pakistani writers may have chosen to remain uninterested, Bengali writers have not been indifferent to this flurry of activity. Several of Gholam Mohammad's stories have been translated and commented upon. One of his stories is quoted in an article appearing in Bichitra, the leading weekly of Bangladesh. This special issue to commemorate those who had died in the 1952 language riots, appeared on the 21st February 1990 and mentioned Bangladesh's Urdu writers with great respect. The article states that there were certain vested interests which brought Urdu and Bengali into conflict with each other, and thence forth Urdu got a raw deal. Even more significant is the "Urdu Number" of Proti Pokho, which boldly proclaims the need for reestablishing dialogue with Urdu writers. "They are probably the last generation of Urdu writers in Bangladesh, and they are writing for a reader who is becoming invisible," the magazine's editor Farhad Mazhar told me. But he sees Urdu in a much larger context. "Urdu should be reclaimed as an integral part of the Sub-continent's Islamic culture. For Bengali language, getting dose to Urdu is another way of getting closer to this cultural legacy." Farhad Mazhar's latest book of poems Ebadat-Namah uses a language in which Urdu and Persian words are liberally used. "This is closer to the everyday language of the people in Bangladesh. We must use their language to break away from the heavily Sanskritized language forced on us by the Hindu middle class of Calcutta during the British time. It is a historical accident that their language got developed as the standard form of Bengali. Urdu is
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