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18th-Oct-2020

Rahat Khan In Fiction And Journalism

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Rahat Khan is one of the brightest luminaries in the field of art, literature, culture and journalism in Bangladesh. He has fascinated literary lovers with his creative work. Similarly, he has gained immortality in the field of journalism. It is a recognition of his unimaginable talent, extraordinary intellect and glorious deeds. His impeccable working life and the ideals followed will always be remembered in the history of the intellectual sphere of the Bengali nation. His death was an irreparable loss to Bengali fiction and journalism; we may have to wait a long time to make up for that.
Rahat Khan was born in Kishoreganj on 19 December 1940 and died on 26 August 2020 in Dhaka. In the colorful life of eight decades, he has become an integral witness to the eventful history of British, Pakistan and independent Bangladesh. He obtained his MA degree in Bengali from Dhaka University in 1961. It was through teaching that his career began; he was a lecturer at Nasirabad College, Mymensingh, Chittagong Government College and Jagannath College, Dhaka. In 1969 he devoted himself to the profession of journalism. He first joined the Sangbad and later to the daily Ittefaq. He became the acting editor of Ittefaq in 2009 and in 2013 the daily Bartaman was published under his editorship. In recognition of his work in 2016, the government appointed him as the Board Chairman of Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS) and he served in this post for two and half years with full devotion.
Rahat Khan was a story lover from his childhood. He was just in class three, his first story published at that child-age! You can imagine how thoughtful and story-loving he was in his childhood! That story was about tortoise and hawk; in front of his eyes, the hawk grabbed a small tortoise and took it away! The incident tormented him, he was startled and in tears. The emotion that was created in his heart in this incident was the material for writing his first story. From then on, his continuous journey of writing has begun. In 1972, his first book of short stories was published under the title 'Onishchit Lokaloy' (Uncertain Locality). He has made significant contributions to both short stories and novels in Bengali Literature.
Rahat Khan is today regarded as the modern incarnation of Bengali short stories. He could have easily plunged the vast ocean into his short stories; this was his writing technique and skill. He was a skilled craftsman in character portrayal, narrative style and story selection. The short story of the great liberation war-northern Bangladesh has got a new dimension in his hands. A short story of only two pages, 'Dirgho Oshrupat' (Long Tears), seems to represent various fragments of the freedom struggle across the country. In the last footnote of the story, Rahat Khan wrote, 'Ten months after this incident. January 10, 1972. Dhaka Airport is crowded. Sheikh MujiburRahman is returning to independent Bangladesh after being released from prison in Pakistan. All eyes were on the empty blue sky of Dhaka Airport, when a swan-like plane appeared in the sky, this emotional wait was going on. A five-year-old girl was also in the crowd. Everyone was emotional and excited. But the girl was silent. At that point mike was announced that a few minutes later he is coming. The little girl took my hand when she heard this announcement, raised her face and asked in a pitiful voice: 'My father will not come?'
Rahat Khan brought up the life of the middle and upper class of Dhaka city in fiction. Besides, his eyes of sight, language of writing and mind of perception were to draw rural life into the art of fiction. On the other hand, he has written about rural life in novels like 'Amal Dhabal Chakri'. He has raised the issue of Ekushey February and the liberation war of Bangladesh in 'Hey Matbanga' and 'Hey Mahashunya' (O space). The names of his books are a testimony to a time, a testament to the artist's greatness ahead of time; the names of the books are given by an experienced scribe Munshiana, like a living classical. For example, 'Amal Dhabal Chakri', 'Chayadampati' (shadow couple), 'Shahar' (city), 'Hey Shunyata' (O emptiness), 'Hey Ananter Pakhi' (O bird of eternity), 'Maddhya Mather Kheloar' (player of the middle field), 'Ek Priyadarshini' (a beloved), 'Mantrishavar Patan' (the fall of the cabinet), 'Dui Nari' (two women), 'Kolahal' (noise), 'O Matbanga', 'Hey Mahashunya' (O space) etc.
Rahat Khan has received many awards and honors in recognition of his impeccable work. Notable among these are Bangla Academy Sahitya Puraskar (1973), Suhrid Sahitya Puraskar (1975), Sufi Motahar Hossain Puraskar (1979), Abul Mansur Ahmad Smriti Puraskar (1980), Humayun Qadir Smriti Puraskar (1982), Trio Sahitya Puraskar (1988) And Ekushey Padak (1996); he won both the Bangla Academy and the Ekushey Padak for his literary works. However, as a genius of literary construction and objective journalism, he is undoubtedly the most deserving person of the 'Shadhinata Purashkar' (Independence Award). Therefore, we would hope that this eminent scholar would be awarded this highest honor of the state, the Independence Award, so that the obligation placed on us would be repaid. Rahat Khan deserves this posthumous honor; in this, the highest respect will be paid to his disembodied soul.

(Writer: Professor, University of Dhaka)