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Novelist Shawkat Osman

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Syed Azizul Huq :
Shawkat Osman (1917-1998), educationist, novelist, short story writer, was born on 2nd January in 1917 in Hughli, West Bengal, India.
His real name was Sheikh Azizur Rahman; Shawkat Osman was his pen name. He passed MA in Bangla in 1941 from Calcutta University. Earlier, in 1936, he worked briefly as a clerk in the Calcutta Corporation. After completing his MA he taught at Government Commercial College. He migrated to East Pakistan in 1947, in the wake of partition, and joined Chittagong College of Commerce. In 1959 he joined Dhaka College, from where he retired in 1972. He also worked in the Krishak for some time.
Though Shawkat Osman is mainly known as a novelist and short story writer, he also wrote in a number of other genres such as essays, plays, humorous writings, memoirs and books for children. His popular novels include Jononi (The Mother, 1958), Kritodaser Hasi (The Laughter of a Slave, 1962), Somagom (The Gathering, 1967), Chourosondhi (Friendship with Thieves, 1968), Raja Upakhyan (Stories of Kings, 1971), Jahannam Hoite Biday (Goodbye from Hell, 1971), Dui Soinik (Two Soldiers, 1973), Nekre Oronyo (Wolves’ Forest, 1973), Potongo Pinjor (Insects’ Cage, 1983), Artonad (Yell, 1985), and Rajpurus (King’s Men, 1992). Anthologies of stories are Junu Apa O Onyanyo Golpo (Sister Junu and Other Stories, 1952), Monib O Tahar Kukur (The Master and His Dog, 1986), Ishworer Protidwondi (Contestant of God, 1990) etc. His essays have been collected in Sangskritir Chorai Utrai (Upheavals of Culture, 1985), Muslim Manoser Rupantor (Changes in Muslim Thought, 1986), etc.
He also wrote a number of plays: Amlar Mamla (Suits by Bureaucrats, 1949), Purno Svadhinota Churno Swadhinota (Total Independence Shattered Independence, 1990). His writings for children include Oten Saheber Banglo (Mr Oten’s Cottage, 1944), Mosquito Phone (Phone for Mosquitoes, 1957), Ksudey Socialist (The Little Socialist, 1973), Ponchosongi (The Five Companions, 1987). He was also a humorist, as for example, in Nijoswo Songbaddata Prerito (Sent by the Staff Correspondent, 1982).
Jononi and Kritodaser Hasi are his two most well known books. Jononi portrays the destruction of a family because of friction between rural and urban life. Kritodaser Hasi reveals dark episodes of political life and shows how autocrats torture people. In Nekre Oronyo, based on the war of liberation, he depicts the oppressions of the Pakistan army on the people of Bangladesh.
Shawkat Osman wrote some memoirs, among them Swojon Songram (Kinsman’s Struggle, 1986), Kalratri Khondochitro (A Partial Picture of a Dangerous Night, 1986), Onek Kahan (Too Many Speeches, 1991), Goodbye Justice Masud (1993), Mujibnagar (1993), Ostittwer Songe Songlap (Discussion with Existence, 1994), Sodarer Khonje Svodesher Sondhane (Look for Friends, 1995), and Moulobader Agun Niye Khela (Playing with the Fire of Fundamentalism, 1996).
He also translated a large number of novels, short stories and plays into Bangla. Among some of his translated books are Nisho (1948-49), Luknitashi (1948), Bagdader Kobi (1953), Time Machine (1959), Panchti Kahini (Leo Tolstoy, 1959), Spainer Chhotogolpo (Short Stories of Spain, 1965) Panchti Natok (Five Plays, 1972), Daktar Abdullahar Karkhana (Workshop of Doctor Abdullah, 1973), Prithibir Rongomonche Manus (People on the Stage of Earth stage, 1985), and Sontaner Swikarokti (The Confession of a son, 1985).
Shawkat Osman was a staunch supporter of Bengali culture and strongly protested against autocracy and religious fundamentalism. Though he was not politically active, he was outspoken in his political opinions. He received the Bangla Academy Award (1962), Adamjee Literary Award (1966), President Award (1967). The Ekushey Padak (1983), Mahbubullah Foundation Prize (1983), Muktadhara Literary Award (1991) and Independence Day Award (1997).
He breathed his last on 14 May in 1998.

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