Kaiser Haq spoke at the session 'Past the brick lane' on English writing in Bangladesh
Professor Kaiser Haq, eminent Bangladeshi poet and translator, attended Day 3 of Sahitya AajTak, the annual literary festival in Delhi, on Sunday. Speaking at the session 'Past the brick lane' on English writing in Bangladesh, about his poem 'How Many Buddhas Can They Destroy?', Kaiser Haq said it was a response prompted by the incident in which pagodas and houses of Buddhists were ransacked.
He added that the poem has universal significance and it not only applies to Buddhists but any community which is being targeted.
Kaiser Haq, who is also a veteran of the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War, then jumped into how he joined the resistance. Kaiser Haq said he was 20 years old at the time, a second year undergraduate, and resumed his studies as soon as the war ended.
"To me it was an existential choice. I could try to lay low and get out the country as a few friends did or resist. So, like many I decided to join the resistance. If I hadn't, that would have bothered by conscience," he said.
When asked why he doesn't write in Bengali being a Bangladeshi, the professor chuckled saying, "Language is a very tricky thing. The language movement took place after the partition The Pakistani establishment wanted to impose Urdu as the state language which was a totally misguided decision."
"Before 71, I studied English in kindergarten, which is why it became my literary language. After we became independent, the English-medium system was scrapped Instead of writing in Bangla, I have translated from Bangla to English," he said.
He elaborated how the old circumstances have brought marginalised languages into the scene.
Talking about his next work, Kaiser Haq said besides poetry he would like to work on two folk texts, which he wants to retell with modern interpretation. He added if the two folk retellings of- Moimonsingha Geetika which is a collection of Bengali fold tales and the biography of Prophet Muhammad by Syed Sultan- work, then he will have a crack at Kashiram Das’s Mahabharat.