Monday, April 16, 2007


I was dwelling on the idea of organising a quiet felicitation programme to commemorate and celebrate 40 years of Subimal Misra’s writing. Various people likely to be interested would have to be contacted, involved and invited. A small public hall could be hired, like Students’ Hall, or Mahabodhi Society Hall, on College Square; or why not in Coffee House itself?! A suitable chief guest could be thought of. There would be a few speeches, tributes and reminiscences. Some extracts would be read out. If one is ambitious, one could even think of a documentary film on Misra being screened (provided someone makes one!). Or a theatrical adaptation of something by him performed. And Subimal Misra would be honoured, with a flower garland, a bouquet of flowers, a shawl and a scroll – in Bangla calligraphy, expressing his readers’ and fellow-citizens appreciation, regard, gratitude and good wishes for him. A readers’ / citizen’s award.

I thought about an appropriate date for this. There must surely be something like “World Literature Day”, which would be a fitting date. So I googled, and discovered that while there is no “World Literature Day”, there is a “World Book & Copyright Day”, instituted by UNESCO. This is on 23 April. “By celebrating this Day throughout the world, UNESCO seeks to promote reading, publishing and the protection of intellectual property through copyright.”

But this would not be suitable at all! Because Subimal Misra does not believe in copyright. So either some other befitting date should be determined – or this can be done on 23 April, with the aspect of Misra’s lifelong shunning and defiance of commercial publishing, and rejection of “copyright”, being highlighted using the occasion of this date.

Perhaps 21 February, the day commemorating the martyrs of the Bengali language movement, known in Bangladesh and West Bengal as Bhasha Andolon Dibosh (Language Movement Day), would be the best date. Since 2000, this is celebrated by UNESCO as "International Mother Language Day". After all, Subimal Misra is most fundamentally a Bengali writer. While being completely rooted in the vernacular, and therefore inevitably in the subaltern, he is at the same time abreast with and speaking of, and to, humanity at large. He looks at the world through the prism of the city of Calcutta and Bengali society and culture.

If it is 21 February – then that will have to be in 2008. And 23 April 2007 is just a week away, that’s too soon! If a really appropriate date in 2007 suggests itself – that would settle it.

Wishful thinking …

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