A legend and doyen in journalism

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Category : Kazi Liakat Hossain

Kazi Liakat Hossain
THE nation is going to observe the death anniversary of the doyen on October 13 with a heavy heart. Obaidul Huq was born on October 31, 1911, in Feni district. It’s a miracle that he was born in October and died in October.

When, on October 14, 2007, we were celebrating Eid, we heard that the doyen, the legend, the savant, the celebrity, Obaidul Huq, had breathed his last the day before. The news came to us as a bolt from the blue.

I came to know his name from the late Mizanur Rahman (who was editor of Mizanur Rahmaner Troi Mashik Patrika). From that time, I painted an imaginary picture of this legendary person in my mind long before I actually met him.

I had an opportunity once to attend a function along with journalist Meshba Uddin Chowdhury. Two giants were the main speakers, renowned philosopher and educationist late principal Dewan Mohammed Azraf and late Obaidul Huq. I immediately realised I had come across a person (Obaidul Huq) who was such a gentleman with an amazing personality. Hardly have I seen such a soft spoken, polite, amiable and well-mannered person.

He used to deliver a quotation whenever the topic needed it. His style of speaking and narrating was wonderful. We junior journalists listened to his valuable speeches very attentively. He said: “Do not try to write any article or news which is indecipherable, and do not use any word which is bombastic. You are to make clear to the readers what actually you are going to write so that the readers can understand it very easily. Do try to write in lucid and simple English. Do not try to show your capability and superiority. Perhaps in 1982 he wrote an article Clear and compact writing, emphasising the importance of clarity, directness and compactness of the language.

He wrote: “Unclear writing betrays a muddled mind.” He said effective communication depended on how clear, direct and compact the language was, because good communication was determined by “the quality of the craft of talking and writing.”

I switched over to journalism after working in a pharmaceutical company the then Pakistan. I had heard about Obaidul Huq. but I was a kid then. When I became college student I came to know him by reading his articles.

Obaidul Huq’s speech was smooth and clear, and he used quotations so nicely that it taught us a lot. He was called “king of quotations.” He was a time film director, producer, script writer, novelist, poet and journalist.

He obtained M.A. degree in Philosophy from Dhaka University, and later he took a law degree from Kolkata. He resigned from the Bengal Civil Service in 1944.

In 1946, this versatile genius made a film Dukkhe Jader Jibon Gara, but he had a problem in releasing it as communal tension was prevailing in Kolkata. He was urged by distributors of the film to change his name to Himadri Chowdhury.

He had heartfelt love for rebel poet Kazi Nazrul Islam. During Huq’s student life in Feni, Kazi Nazrul visited his residence. He joined the then Pakistan Observer in 1951 as asstt. editor under another giant editor, A. Salam.

He became editor of The Bangladesh Observer in 1972, and held the post till 1984. He later joined The Daily News (now defunct) as editor and also became the chairman of the Press Institute of Bangladesh. He was a great satirist. He wrote a novel Sangram, which was turned into the film Azan.

He earned name and fame for his ability to write humorous and sometimes stinging and biting satire, which gave readers pleasure. He was a prolific writer. For his excellent writings on different subjects and immense contributions to journalism, he won the prestigious “Ekushe Padak” in 1983. In recognition of his literary genius he received the Bangla Academy Award for Drama in 1964. He also won Unicef Award for his courageous editorials in 1983.

In his later years he concentrated on writing columns mostly for Bangla dailies, particularly Janakantha. He valued some norms, principles and ideals, and those distinguished him as a writer, editor and, above all, a creative man. Creativity was his forte, but he was involved with the social changes and milieu and had the vast knowledge to analyse and interpret events in a most objective manner.

We can follow him to develop our journalistic style, but he will be mostly remembered for his witty, saucy and insightful columns.

I remember I was praised by this legend one day. I had written an article on “Pahela Baishakh” under the headline “Pahela Baishakh-A Gala Day for Bangalees.” It was published the day before Pahela Baishakh in the daily New Nation In the article I used some words — Goloyia (fair) Gadi Shaeed (Halkhata) — which were used in Bikrampur. He was amused to read these words and highly praised me. His sweet voice still rings in my ears.

Whenever his face flashes in my mind’s eye I cannot control my tears. Let his spirit live amongst us forever.

“Death is the golden key that opens the palace of eternity” — Milton May the Almighty Allah rest his soul in eternal peace.

Kazi Liakat Hossain is Advisory Editor, The Economy.

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