Mahmudul H Sumon
My friend John [Shariful Imdad John (1973-2021)] was not at home when suddenly one fine morning I wanted to meet him. He was attending the math festival.
His father didn’t recognize me at first. I asked about his health and khalamma and other family members. I asked about John as well. What he was doing, etc. Didn’t have his cell number so I took his number. When taking leave John’s father said, “He is quite fine now…I think”. I was a bit perplexed […] He took no notice and continued, “He was quite sick at first. […]” So it transpired to me only then that my friend was recovering from some kind of illness […] It was not the right time to ask if he was doing poetry. Nevertheless, I decided to ask. His father assured me, “Yes, he is pretty much into it, he is about to publish a book of poems. I have agreed to give him money.” I looked at him with some ease!
After a day or two, I went to John’s house for a second time with the assurance that he was available. At home I found a man engrossed in poetry, literature, and music. We talked about literature, music, and many other things, small bits of information we did not share before like when we first met at school and some things from our college days. We were meeting after many years after all.
From my school/college days, I remembered John as someone having a great passion for poetry. He would spend a lot of time on poetry and poetry recitals. I was never into poetry but we both rehearsed for the first time for a poem recitation competition in class seven. The selected piece for the competition was Shamsur Rahman’s Kokhono Amar Make. We memorised the poem for the competition. Both of us rehearsed well but at the last moment, I was dropped by our teacher/selector. It was meant to be our first stage performance at college. I was perhaps having a stage phobia. So I was pleased with the decision! John along with a senior brother participated in the finale. They did well while I silently recited the poem with them from the audience. I was happy with the feat of our team’s performance!
That was my friend in his teens, enthusiastic and talented. Even after many years of detachment, it seemed as though the feelings were the same. My friend’s decision not to appear for the BA may have hurt his parents and why not, he was such a brilliant student, got admitted to one of the best institutes of the country [BUET] but dropped out in the end. He spent most of his time in his room, reading poetry and this was his habit from the college days. His father seemed worried about him but when I finally met him I found an engrossed man at work. I could not say anything. What can I say? He hardly got anything published except in locally organized school magazines and some little magazines but the good news was that his book was about to hit the market.
Mahmudul H Sumon is a faculty at the Department of Anthropology, Jahangirnagar University