The 21st February and Creativity
There are some movements in history whose events decide not only the fate of the present, but of all time to come, setting the stage for the emergence of the free spirit of man and his realization of the ends of his creation. These events are shaped by the inevitable forces of history, and they take a clear dialectical pattern of conflicts involving good and evil, justice and injustice, freedom and bondage, truth and falsehood. And in course of time these historical movements take on other dimensions as well, sometimes transferring their significance on to a purely symbolic realm. Through a strange transvaluation which only history can explain, these events get firmly entrenched in popular imagination, supplying matter even for folklore. Such movements of apocalypse are not numerous in the history of nations; but when they take place they become more than mere historical events- they become occasions for a celebration of life, its vital principles and its uncompromising truth..
In the long history of the land and the people of Bangladesh; there have not been many occasions of unmixed joy. Our proudest events have often been weighed down by incalculable loss and suffering, our victories and our celebrations have brought forth more tears than laughter. But the proud people go on fighting, turning their songs of sorrow into chants of victory. tFtteimmortal 21st February reminded us every year that death is not always the end, but can also be a great beginning; that it is not always a sad waste, but can also be a matter of the deepest glory.
The events of the 21st February 1952 are matters of history now, and need no recapitulation here. What they represented in symbolic terms however, was the reawakening of a great nation when confronted with its first real challenge in a new geographical entity. This reawakening involved not simply a reassertion of its political will, or its maturity as a nation, but also a realization of its total cultural identity. For a long time the nation had been pursuing a common objective with other nations of the region-namely, independence-which became, if anything, a matter of conscience as well, especially after India's fate was sealed in a battle that took place in a mango grove of Bengal two hundred years earlier. It was perhaps only fitting that Bengal led the movement for independence of the subcontinent. When that independence came, the nation was even content for a while to share a common goal with other people within the framework of Pakistan. But it was quite obvious from the very beginning that they were `yoked by violence together' and were not destined to co-exist till eternity. So when the first protesters were shot down in the streets of Dhaka in that fateful afternoon of the 21st February, 1952, more than a severance of links was presaged. It also signalled the emergence of the nation of Bangladesh. The 21st gave us, to use a phrase from George Steiner, a "mythology of our future." The 21st made inevitable the freedom movement of 1971, and ensured our continuation as a free nation in the world.
The immortal 21st- it is now called by this epithet-influenced our arts and literature in two distinct ways. First, it made us aware of our rich cultural past and our true heritage by bringing us face to . face with our real identity as a nation. Secondly, it inspired us to create, and continue adding to the living culture of thousands of years. In a sense all true revolutions are inspirational. They embolden their chidlren to break more new grounds than they had covered. Tolstoy in his Literature and Revolution had suggested that a post-revolution poet will have to meet certain historical necessities "The poet of the new epech," he wrote, "will re-think in a new way the thoughts of mankind and re-feel its feelings." it is - seen in our history of literature that the best periods of creativity had always coincided with or followed...
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