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GB translates Nazrul Islam’s original letter to his lady love

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Nargis A’sar Khanam or Sayada Khatun was the first wife of Kazi Nazrul Islam, though their marriage was not consummated. Nargis was Ali Akbar Khan’s niece. Kazi Nazrul accompanied Ali Akbar Khan to Daulatpur in Comilla and stayed there for about two and a half months. During his stay there, he fell head over heels in love with the stunning beauty of young Nargis. Their wedding date was finalized on Asharh 3, 1328 B.S or middle of June, 1921. However, their wedding is mired in controversy. Unfortunately, their relationship did not last long. For the next 16 years, Nargis had no contact with Nazrul. Then in 1937-38, Nargis wrote him a letter and in reply Nazrul wrote the famous song: Jaar haat diye  mala dite paaro nai  followed by a letter.
Here is that letter:

Kalyaniashu,

I received your letter in the beginning of monsoon, on a fresh and wet morning. Today’s heavy torrential showers will probably remind you of a day in the month of Asharh,15 years ago, when the overcast sky was threatening to drown the world as it were. I greet the new clouds of Asharh. In the era of Kalidas, the cloud-messenger carried the pining of the solitary Yaksha to his ladylove in the far-off land of Malabika, where she waited for her love, on the banks of the Reba river. For me, however, the clouds bring no happy tidings. They revive memories of all the pain in my life and distances me from my creative muse, dragging me into the dark abyss of sorrow. Now let me explain myself and respond to the admonition and complaints against me. Trust me, whatever I am writing is true. If you try to judge me from heresy and from stray comments by acquaintances, you will misunderstand me.

I don’t have any desire to avenge you for whatever happened and this I assure you from the very bottom of my heart. The Almighty knows the episode with you has left such a deep gnash in my heart that will never ever heal. I have been tormented by the pain, but I have never wanted you to go through the same torment. If you had not ignited the fire within, I would not have been able to play my Agni-veena, I would not have been able to appear like a meteor (Dhoomketu) in the literary sphere. I had seen you for the first time when I was in my teens and you were the very personification of grace, beauty and love and that is the image,which is engraved in my heart and nothing can tarnish it.

Don’t forget that I’m a poet. If I strike, I strike with flowers. I aim for the unattainable, I am a worshipper of beauty and I don’t let anything that is ugly come near me. I am not a barbaric coward who exterminates anything or anyone. Heaven knows I do not have any complaint or expectations from you. I do not know your present situation or station in life. I remember you as I had seen you when you were an innocent girl whom I had yearned to own and honour as my Muse, but you refused to accept me then. I still worship the Muse I had created out of your image then and whatever you are today, I have nothing to do with that. I am not interested in you anymore nor do I want you anymore in my life. May be, I am rejecting the present because I know you are unattainable and if I again start hoping afresh, my desires will be dashed.

We may not meet again, but then why regret? If we are not destined to meet in this mundane world, perhaps we will meet some day, somewhere, not here. The physical presence is not everything. If you miss me, you can always imagine me beside you and you will find me. Laila did not get Majnu nor Shirin got Farhad, yet no love story is complete without these couples being named together. Self-immolation is a sin, but the soul is indestructible and love cannot die. If you have been touched by love’s magic wand, you are one of the very few lucky ones, a chosen soul indeed. Love will lift you to a higher plane. You cannot run away from sorrow and carry it like baggage anywhere you go. We can rectify our errors and make life better. But you cannot run away from sorrows and pain. You have to pay the price of your deeds in this life only. Only then will you be liberated and the Almighty will pardon your sins. I have lived amid mediocrity but have been able to discard my immediate surrounding and reach a higher level where I can see the world and its frailties benignly.

I am suddenly reminded of a day, 15 years ago. You had high fever and I yearned to touch your fair forehead and feel it and I finally did so. I can still feel the warmth. Did you look at me? My eyes were swelling with tears and I longed to take care of you as my heart prayed for your speedy recovery. Seems like yesterday. Time could not wipe off the memory. What a surge of uncontrollable emotion, and flow of love that was! I could not sleep a wink for days after that. Now, as my journey takes me down my sunset days ahead, you don’t have any power to stop the journey and don’t you try doing so. Let this be my first and last letter to you. No matter where I am, my prayers will always be like a protective shield around you. May you be happy and attain peace in life. I am not as evil or bad as you think I am,and this is the only and the very last explanation I present to you.

Your constant well-wisher,

Nazrul Islam