Under the Krishnachura: Fifty Years of Bangladeshi Writing


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Under the Krishnachura: Fifty Years of Bangladeshi Writing

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Shortly after the creation of Pakistan, the question of what would be the state language became a burning issue. Bangla speakers formed the single largest ethnic and linguistic majority. Nevertheless, the founder of Pakistan, M.A. Jinnah, declared that Urdu and Urdu alone shall be the state language of Pakistan. The Bengali struggle for the rightful recognition of Bangla gained momentum. On 21st February 1952, police fired on a procession in Dhaka demanding recognition of Bangla as one of the state languages of Pakistan. In the firing Rafiq, Barkat, Jabbar, and Salam were killed along with others, leading to a spontaneous outpouring of grief and anger. Though subsequently Bangla was recognised as one of the state languages of Pakistan, the events of 21st February, or simply Ekushey, inspired a nationalistic upsurge that ultimately culminated in the creation of Bangladesh in 1971. Poets and writers, inspired by the language martyrs, wrote about the young blood shed under the krishnachura trees of Ramna. The krishnachura trees, under which the crowds had gathered, had not started to give forth their flaming flowers, but the image of red krishnachura flowers strewn on the ground has become a vivid symbol of the February deaths. The significance of the day was recognised when, in 1999, UNESCO declared 21st February as Mother Language Day. This English translation of poems, short stories, and short plays honours the first Ekushey, as well as those who fought in other ways for the Bangla language and for the nation which was born out of that tragedy. It is a modest attempt to honour writers in Bangla by making their writings available to a larger, worldwide readership. This anthology, commemorating 21st February 1952, also includes other themes to give readers a sense of the range of subjects attempted by Bangladeshi writers over half a century.



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