Tributes to a legendary journalist

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Category : Kazi Liakat Hossain

Kazi Liakat Hossain
THE nation observes the 2nd death anniversary of doyen and legend of journalism today with a heavy heart.

Obaidul Huq was born with a silver spoon on October 31,1911 in Feni district. It’s a miracle that he was born in October and died in October as well.

When the day after on October 14,2007 we the Muslims were going to celebrate the holy Eid festival the news came from electronic media that ambidexter Obaidul Huq breathed his last on 13th October, 2007.

The news came to us as a bolt from the blue. In truth he was great with the great and lowly with the lowly.

I came to know his name from two of my first cousins late Mizanur Rahman (who was editor of his own magazine Mizanur Rahmaner TroiMashik Patrika). He (Mizanur Rahman) also once served in the then Pakistan Observer now The Bangladesh Observer and Nayeem Gahar (Poet, Lyricist, Ex-BBC Commentator and News Caster) who used to write poems in English during his college life in the then Pakistan Observer. From that time I had already painted an imaginary picture of this legendary person in my mind long before I actually met him (Obaidul Huq).

Once I had an opportunity to attend a function along with a journalist Meshba Uddin Chowdhury (now living in the USA). Two giants were the main speakers, renowned philosopher and educationist late principal Dewan Mohammad Azraf and late Obaidul Huq. My favourite personalities were late Dr. Matin Chowdhury V.C of Dhaka university, Principal Dewan Mohammad Azraf and late Obaidul Huq. I immediately realised I had come across a person (Obaidul Huq) who was every inch 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 topics needed. His style of speaking and narrating was wonderful. We junior journalists listened to his valuable speeches very attentively so that not a single word could slip from our minds. He very boldly (with a sweet voice) said, “Do not try to write any article or news which is illegible and do not use any word which is bombastic and magniloquence. You are to make clear to the readers what actually you are going to write so that the readers can understand it very easjly. Do try to write in lucid and simple English. Do not go to show your capability and superiority.” Perhaps in 1982 he wrote an article headlined “Clear and compact writing” He emphasised the importance of clarity, directness and compactness of the language.

He wrote “Unclear writing betrays a muddled mind”. He said effective communication depends on how clear, direct and compact the language is. Because good communication is determined by “The quality of the craft talking and writing”.

I switched over to journalism after working in a pharmaceutical company, the then Pakistan for a few years. I heard the names of giant editors like Abdus Salam, Zahur Hossain Chowdhury, Tofazzal Hossain Manik Miah, Obaidul Huq etc. But unfortunately I was so kid then, I could not even remember their names. When I became college student I came to know them by reading their valuable articles in the newspapers.

He is blessed with four sons and three daughters. His eldest son Mashuqul Huq is serving in The Bangladesh Observer as Feature Editor, 2nd son Arham Masudul Huq, Company Secretary of Dhaka Bank, 3rd Son Ln. Anjam Maroof, Public Relation Officer (PRO), Janata Insurance Company Ltd., his fourth son Sajjad Jabir, F.V.P of IFIC Bank. One day I was introduced to his son Anjam Maroof by my cousin Gahar when he was serving in the same company.

Obaidul Huq’s style of talking was smooth and clear and he used to put quotation in a proper place so nicely that it gave us much teachings in our journalism life. He was called king of quotation. He was at a time film director, producer, script writer, novelist, poet and journalist, he was ambidexter in the true sense of the term.

He obtained M.A. degree in Philosophy from Dhaka University and later he took Law Degree from Kolkata.

He resigned from Bengal Civil Service in 1944.

In 1946 this versatile genius made a film “Dukkhe Jader Jibon Gara” was a successful one. But he had to face a main problem how to release the film as communal tension was prevailing in Kolkata. He was urged by distributors of the film to change his name as Himadri Chowdhury keeping in view of their interests at the box office. Many noted actors and actresses like Zohar Ganguly, Renuka Roy, Kanu Banarjee, Ahindra Chowdhury acted in the main characters of the movie. Famous artist of Bangladesh Fateh Lohani elder brother of Fazle Lohani in the name of Kiron Kumer acted in his film. Late Abdul Ahad, a noted music director, directed the music. The famous singer late Hemanta Mukharjee md Suprity Roy were the singers. He wrote a novel “Sangram”. This novel was turned into a film in the name of Azan.

He had a heartfelt love to our Rebel Poet Kazi Nazrul Islam. During his student life in Feni, Kazi Nazrul visited his residence. He wrote a poem of two pages during his student life. 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. He held the post of Editor 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 earned name and fame for his excellent ability and capability to write humorous and sometimes stinging and biting satires, which gave readers pleasure. His inexplicable ability to place great and popular quotations from reputed writers and world personalities was a special feature of his qualities which is worth mentioning, 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 editorial in 1983.

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

We can follow him for our knowledge, and future development of our journalistic style. He would mostly be remembered for his witty, saucy and insightful columns.

I remember one day I was praised by this legend, doyen in journalism. I wrote one article on “Pahela Baishakh” under the headline “Pahela Baishakh: A Gala Day for Bangalees”. It was published one day before Pahela Baishakh in the daily New Nation. In that article I wrote some words in dialect for example “Goloyia” (Mela, Fair) “Gadi shaeed” (Halkhata). The words “Goloyia” and “Gadi shaeed” are used in Bikrampur villages. He was amused to read these words and highly praised me over telephone. 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 his soul rest in eternal peace and eternal palace.

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