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Syed Abu Rushd Matinuddin: The litterateur and the man

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Golam Kibriya :
Syed Abu Rushd Matinuddin, who used to abbreviate his name as SAR Matinuddin, and preferred Abu Rushd as pen name, died on 23 February 2010. He was born in December 23, 1919 in Calcutta in a characteristic family of Muslim community. The year 1919 is important for Indians under British raj as in that year the Montague-Chelms ford Reform was introduced in the country as an aftermath of World War 1 and also on the face of popular resentment against misrule. The new-born Abu Rushd was growing up in the biggest Indian metropolis in an environment where anti-colonial movement was vibrant and an effort for intellectual and cultural refinement was at its peak. As he grew up he was consciously and also obliviously adopting the positive things around him. He has deftly narrated the situation then and his personal development in his book Jiban Kromosho or as life develops - a copy of which he gave me in mid 80s of the last century with a strong recommendation to read it and to feed him back. That was the first book of his literary realm he gave me just to begin with and since then after a gap of four to six weeks he would give me another of his books with an intense query whether I had finished the earlier one. I generally had read his books but at times due to laziness I delayed finishing them. But that had not to be admitted for good reasons, of course. About Jibon Kromosho, the maiden book of the reading process, I had informed him that I had read and enjoyed the book and also made some positive observations, which pleased him. He instantly took me as a connoisseur of his literature and laid the foundation of a relationship which had been cemented gradually in later days and years to come.
SAR Matinuddin, after retirement from regular government services in the Education Department, had joined as Supernumerary. Professor of English in Jahangirnagar University in mid 80s. During the same time he was appointed as Chairman of the PIE (Press Institute of Bangladesh) Board of Management and that was how I became personally acquainted with him. He, as chairman, had no day to day function at the Institute. But he would come to the Institute three four days a week to glance over all the newspapers of the country and also to make some study at the library. He desired that during my free time, amid routine job, to go to his room to give him company and to listen to his discourse on various topics. He used to talk simple things, his experience with his publishers and their various tricks. As a less known or almost unknown author I had little interaction with publishers. But at times he wanted to know my experience with them about which I could hardly give him any insight.
He was a remarkable conversationalist. His diction was superb and tasteful. There was no misuse or abuse of words. Every bit of it was to the point and measured. For anybody who is used to listening to good conversation his was satisfying and compelling. I often tried to drive him to his varied experience as an academic and litterateur. He used to often speak something about these but not in detail and also carefully hid his personal self from those narratives. One thing I remember clearly that he never spoke anything to me about his days in Oxford. As an Oxonian he not only masterly learned English language and literature but also simultaneously assimilated best of English culture. He was reticent, neatly shaven, meticulously dressed and always careful about the words he used during any communication. But above all he was mindful of his pride and never compromised with self-respect. I think if I would ask him he would speak about his Oxford days. But it was my infatuation that I did not do so. Now after his demise I repent for my thoughtlessness.
After every day's discourse he would ask me have you finished reading my Samne Natun Din which I gave you last week? I replied, Sir, I am in the midst of it and would finish in three/four days.  That is all right, go on steadily but give me your reaction after you finish it. I benignly replied in the positive but in fairness' sake I must confess that I did not even begin reading the book till then. But that was a continuous process and in that he gave me all of his books and ultimately, over time, finished reading most of them.
Apart from translations from English to Bangla and vice versa he had written the following seven books: Elomelo, Samne Notun Din, Doba Holo Dighi, Nongor, Onishchito Ragini, Sthogito Dwip and Jibon Kromosho.
He had written columns for newspapers. 'Lest we forget' was the title of the column which he wrote for the now defunct Bangladesh Times which I had often read.
His thought was clear, language lucid and writing style facile. I did not ever find any supercilious and scurrilous attitude or expressions in his compositions.
His diction or choice of words was unique, he used to choose the simplest but the appropriate word even in fictional literature. He avoided cheap and popular style and followed the chaste and elegant method. He had written short stories and novels where love stories came in for description. In doing that he never used vulgar words and created indecorous scene. Unnecessary eroticism or cheap titillation could not find place in his literary works. Personally also he was a man of refined taste and followed the superior side of English etiquette. He was an example of superior human being and a litterateur of high standing.
He was properly remunerated for his valuable creations. He received all the best awards for literature numbering ten including those of Ekushey and Bangla Academy Padaks. In his demise the country has lost a gentleman and litterateur of unique nature. May God Almighty salvage his soul. n
(Golam Kibriya is a lawyer and a former functionary of PIB)

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