(Poet, Novelist, Linguist, Critic, Columnist, Professor)
(28 April 1947 – 12 August 2004)
A BIOGRAPHY OF HUMAYUN AZAD
Humayun Azad was a Bangladeshi poet, novelist, short-story writer, critic, linguist, and columnist who lived from April 28, 1947, until August 12, 2004. Humayun Kabir was his first name. He accepted the name Humayun Azad on 28 September in 1988 by the magistrate of Narayanganj district. Azad penned almost sixty books. For his contributions to Bengali linguistics, he received the Bangla Academy Literary Award in 1986. He was posthumously awarded the Ekushey Padak by the Government of Bangladesh in 2012 for his contributions to Bengali literature. He is well-known for opposing religious prejudice.
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Born: April 28, 1947
Place of Birth: Bikrampur, Bengal Presidency, British India (now in Munshiganj District, Bangladesh)
Jagadish Chandra Basu Institute
University of Dhaka
University of Edinburgh
Spouse: Latifa Kohinoor
Children: two daughters and one son
Died: 12 August 2004
Death Age: 57 Years
Death Place: Munich, Germany
Resting Place: Munshiganj
Laal Neel Deepabali
Chhappanno Hajar Borgomail
Bangla Academy Literary Award
Early Life and Education:
On April 28, 1947, Azad was born as Humayun Kabir in Rarhikhal hamlet in Bikrampur, which is today part of the Sreenagar sub-division of Munshiganj district. Jagadish Chandra Bose, a well-known scientist, was born in the same village.
In 1962, he received his intermediate education from Sir Jagadish Chandra Basu Institute, and in 1964, he received his upper secondary education from Dhaka College. In 1967 and 1968, he received BA and MA degrees in Bengali language and literature from the University of Dhaka, respectively.
In 1976, he received his PhD in linguistics from the University of Edinburgh, with a thesis titled “Pronominalisation in Bangla.” The magistrate of Narayanganj District altered Azad’s surname from Kabir to Azad on September 28, 1988.
Azad began his career in 1969 when he enrolled at Chittagong College. On February 11, 1970, he began working as a lecturer at the University of Chittagong, and in 1972, he moved to Jahangirnagar University. On November 1, 1978, he was hired as an associate professor of Bengali at the University of Dhaka, and in 1986, he was elevated to professor.
Azad’s first book, Alaukik Istimar (lit. ‘Unearthly steamer,’ was released in 1973, the same year he moved to Scotland to pursue his Ph.D. in Linguistics at the University of Edinburgh. In 1979, he wrote a short story called Onoboroto Tusharpat (lit. ‘Heavy snowing’) that was inspired by his newlywed life with his Dhaka University classmate Latifa Kohinoor; after their marriage in 1975, he took Latifa to Scotland, where one day amid heavy snowing Azad was driving a car with his wife, which became the main plot of the short story; Many years later, Azad included this short story in his 1996 book Jadukorer Mrityu (lit. ‘Death of the Magician,’ which is a collection of five short stories written by him.)
He began writing a newspaper column about current social topics around the end of the 1980s. His musings lasted well into the 1990s, and as the quantity of them rose, he decided to publish them as books. He established himself as a novelist via his writings in the 1990s and early 2000s.
Azad released Naree, the first comprehensive feminist book in Bengali, in 1992. As a treatise, Naree garnered both favorable and critical reviews, and it was hailed as the first full-fledged feminist work published after Bangladesh’s independence.
His debut novel, Chhappanno Hajar Borgomail (lit. ‘Fifty-six thousand square miles, the size of Bangladesh,’ was released in 1994, and it was about military dictatorship in Bangladesh during the 1980s decade. His second work, Sab Kichu Bhene Pare (1995), was centered on interpersonal relationships in Bangladeshi culture and received exceptional appreciation. He authored Ekti Khuner Svapna (lit. ‘Dreaming of a Murder,’ an unrequited love-based book in which the main male protagonist stays in Salimullah Muslim Hall of Dhaka University, where Azad lived during his college years. It was Azad’s final work, released in 2004, the year he died. Kobi Othoba Dondito Aupurush (lit. ‘The poet or the condemned eunuch’) and Nijer Shonge Nijer Jiboner Modhu (lit. ‘The honey of one’s life with himself’) are two important novels. The first is based on a fictional late twentieth-century Bangladeshi male poet who is castrated after engaging in a live-in relationship with a much younger woman, while the latter was inspired by Humayun Az Fali Fali Kore Kata Chand (lit. ‘The divided moon’) is another notable work by Azad, in which the primary female protagonist character Shirin is an educated young woman with self-boastfulness, who participates in adultery, leaves her husband, and becomes misandrist.
Azad also created teen fiction, including the discourse-book Laal Neel Deepabali, which was designed for teenage boys and girls with Azad’s goal of teaching Bangladeshi adolescent boys and girls about Bengali literature in a concise manner.
On October 12, 1975, Azad married Latifa Kohinoor, whom he met in 1968 while studying M.A. at Dhaka University. Smita and Mouli were their two daughters, while Anannya was their son.
Two assailants, armed with chopper machetes, stabbed Azad many places on the jaw, lower portion of the neck, and hands near the University of Dhaka’s campus during the annual Bangla Academy book market on February 27, 2004. Azad was brought to the Dhaka Medical College and Hospital, which is close by. Azad was moved to the Combined Military Hospital (CMH) in Dhaka for better treatment on the orders of then-Prime Minister of Bangladesh Khaleda Zia, and afterwards to Bumrungrad International Hospital in Thailand, where he recovered.
Since passages from his novel Pak Sar Jamin Sad Bad (lit. ‘Pakistan’s national song; Be Blessed the Sacred Land’) were first published in The Daily Ittefaq Newspaper’s Eid supplement in 2003, Azad has been fearful for his life. In that work, he made a scathing attack on the political ideas of Bangladesh’s Islamic fundamentalists. Following the publication of the book, he began to receive threats from Islamist fanatics.
On August 12, 2004, Azad was discovered dead in his residence in Munich, Germany, where he had traveled a week earlier to undertake research on Heinrich Heine, a nineteenth-century German romantic poet. This was many months after an Islamist machete assault on him at a book fair left him severely injured. His family wanted an inquiry, claiming that the fanatics who tried the prior killing were responsible for his murder. Azad had indicated his desire to donate his body to a medical college after his death while still alive.
However, he was buried in Rarhikhal, Bangladesh, since physicians refused to remove his body for medical study, despite the fact that it had taken many days for his body to arrive in Bangladesh from Germany. On Friday, August 12, 2005, the first death anniversary of Azad was commemorated at Rarhikhal hamlet with reverence.
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