Goodbye Rana, Masood Rana has passed away. After the death of Kazi Anwar Hossain, there is a storm in the media, be it print or social media – Masood Rana is dead. That’s exactly what it is! He was the creator of Masud Rana, so why should the timeless hero of Bengali smart literature die with him? There are two sons Kazi Shahnur Hossain, Kazi Maymur Hossain or some unrelated and new writer can keep Rana’s existence alive. Therefore, it is not right to kill the beloved character who has stimulated the youth of Bangladesh for five decades when the creator died!
I have just left Balak Kholash in Chittagong. I was surprised to see a new bookstore called ‘Masud Rana’ on Station Road. The name is Pustak Bitan, Kitabastan, Gyanbhandar, Boighar – who is Masud Rana! Just a name on the big board at the head of the shop. Masud Rana?
Before that, my Zero Zero Seven James Bond movie ‘Doctor No’ was watched by skipping school. I started thinking of myself as James Bond. I went to the shop and wrote James Bond zero zero seven sign board on my bicycle chain cover.
There was a book stall of Sudarshanada (Barua) inside the old red brick railway station of Chittagong during the British period. Actor Biswajit was a handsome man inside and out. He knew that I could not afford to buy books and read. So he used to let me sit and read at the stall. Later, he used to take the book home with a newspaper cover on the cover. At that time, I was starting from Deepak Kumar’s mystery series ‘Baner Hirak Rahasya’ to Dasyu Banhur Dasyu Mohan and Niharranjan Gupta’s kiriti. After reading the first book ‘Dhwans Pahar’, I became obsessed with Masud Rana. It seems like the James Bond of Bengal, our spy hero. Rana started living with the Indian beauty Spy at Hotel Miska, then the tallest building (four storey) in Chittagong on Station Road, seen since childhood. The hotel I have looked up to the sky while going to school since I was a child.
I am reading the first book “Dhwans Pahar” by Masud Rana and I am suffering from shivering thinking that the book is ending after reading one page at a time. Finally, I felt that I should support something. It seems that the runner needs to have a number code like zero zero seven. I designed a solid graphic of a pistol called Zero Nine Nine and sent it to the address of Seva Prakashani. Sending that baby easy design was what I didn’t expect. He sent a thank you postcard. Seriously, I digitized the number code for the runner and sent it to him.
Then the days passed by months and years. I moved to Dhaka alone after being chased away from home to study art. I took the responsibility of keeping myself alive. Also got a job as a minor artist in BTP Advertising Company. I bought a one room house at the end of Moghbazar Nayatola. Abu Saeed Juberi, Ahmed Bashir, Kazi Habib, Sarwa writers of my same age from nearby wealthy families were also friends. Writer journalist Rahat Khan became my Gurudev. He lived in Siddhesari then. Of his four children, Apu, Nipu, Shubhra and Kanta are very small. Whenever I went to their house, they would run and jump on their laps and ask me to draw pictures of ghosts, pictures of trees, pictures of flowers or people. Rahat Bhai Ittefa used to work at home, so newsprint paper pads and ballpoint pens were scattered. It is difficult to rent a house on Bitpi’s salary. Just as respected artist Hashem Khan used to help in various ways for admission in fine arts, he took him to Chittadar (Chittaranjan Saha) of Puthighar and Muktdhara Prakashani in Farashganj of old Dhaka to design book covers to earn some extra money.
Chittada said – OK, but we have to see if he can do it. Another scientist Iqbal’s (Zafar Iqbal) science fiction book is the first to come out from free circulation. If you can design it in only 1 color, you will get the job if you can make the author and me like it. Luckily the two liked the cover design with a single dark blue spray gun.
Having a little water in the stomach also increases the financial demand. You have to buy color canvases to paint on them, even if they are small. Financial pressure does not leave behind.
One day, Rahat Bhai asked if I could make a collage of colorful English magazines and make a book cover?
– Why can’t I! For me it’s easier and less expensive than painting.
– Ok then I will take you to Kazi Anwar Hossain at Seva Prakashani.
– Do you know him? I was jumping for joy.
He smiled and snapped his fingers
– Have you read Masud Rana?
– I am a big fan.
– Then you don’t know the name of Masud Rana’s boss, one thing!
– Oh my God – Rahat Khan! I mean you!
– My close friend is also a relative of your future. For fun, I put Kazi.
Dear Kazi Anwar Hossain, Rahat Bhai was the first to stand with me in the service publication.
The number of jobs in a month is higher even if half of the salary of the freelancer is paid per cover. Purana Paltan old book magazine shop walking distance from 35 Topkhana Road, Bitpir. I went and bought piles of old time newsweeks and tore out the western color advertisements of Malbro’s American cigarettes and collaged clapboards, especially the quality cover designs of cowboy western books.
Kazi Anwar Hossain’s father is a famous scientist, national professor, literary best chess player Kazi Motahar Hossain, mother Sajeda Khatun, father of 11 children. Two or three people died prematurely and all those who were left went very high in education. When he was a boy, he and his brother Kazi Sultan Hossain dived into the deep water of a big pond and the two of them drowned in a competition. Sultan died and Kazi Anwar got a second life to drag others into the water.
Even when he grew up, he used to disappear from home for three or four days without informing anyone. He did not do any job after passing out from Dhaka University. After spending days and months and years reading books in his own room at home, one day he opened a tea biscuit shop ‘Baishakhi’ in an empty room next to the road. There is no difference in the class of customers, rickshaw drivers are also coming and the babura of the government accountant’s office next door are coming to drink tea. However, there is more chat than buying.
One day father Kazi Motahar Hossain came down to Baisakhi with an envelope filled with ten thousand taka. Handing over the money to Kazi Anwar Hossain, he said – After passing IA, you had written and allowed me to read two mystery novels, Kuasha and Destruction Pahar, Masud Rana. I didn’t say anything then but I like it now. Take this money, buy a small press machine, open a publishing house and print your own mystery.
That was the beginning of teak garden press and publishing.
Kuasha and Masud Rana published their first book, Destruction of Mountains, a few years later, the liberation war started and the country became independent. Both books became very popular in the new Bangladesh. Even if two books of the series come out in a month, it is not possible to meet the demand.
At that time, the idea of publishing a book quickly by making a story with special parts from two or three books of foreign spy thrillers came to mind to meet the demand of book readers in a short period of time. He used to select a few books and tear out as many parts as he wanted and rubberband the selected parts together and hand them over to his ghostwriters for translation. When the translation and the story were ready, he would finish it with the climax and send it to the press to print the final copy.
He was the one who started the fast readable Smart Ek Bangla which today has found its place in print media digital media. Made with young readers. Later, Humayun Ahmed wrote in a different style in his own style, but he got a credit full of made-up country.
In any big city of the world, including Bangladesh, there are still such Bengali readers among a huge class of Bengali books. Masud Rana and Seva Prakashani are the only ones who rent books. No one has seen this attraction to any Bengali book! If you go to another Bangla book store in Danforth Bangla Town in this city of Toronto, you will see books of Masud Rana and Kuashar Seva arranged from one head to the other on the book shelf. The young men hired Masud Rana and took him with them on the way home after finishing the work of breaking bones for eight or ten hours. In what other book will the reader get such addiction?
Kazi Anwar Hossain and his wife Farida Yasmin were both famous singers, included in the Pakistan radio list, and also played playback in films. Subhash Dutt’s movie ‘Sutrang’ has songs in the voice of Kazi Anwar Hossain. The self-sacrifice of both sides is famous in Bengali songs. Sister Sanjeeda Khatun is the master of Rabindranath’s songs, Rabindra researcher, writer, professor and the main founder of ‘Chayanat’ which brought a new wave of life to Rabindra Sangeet in Bangladesh. What else can be said about sister-in-law Sabina Yasmin, she is the star of Bengali music.
Today my writing is mainly to pay tribute to the death of dear Kazi Anwar Hossain. I finish writing about the death of his mother Sajeda Khatun. His mother is lying on her deathbed in the ICU of PG Hospital for some time. That night, Kazi Anwar Hussain would lie awake in an empty room just outside the ICU. Rahat Khan reached there with me at 9 pm. There are only 3 chairs in the room, books, notebooks, pens and hot tea flux. Rahat Bhai spoke for a while and stood up and said – I left Iqbal to stay with you at night. Kazi Anwar Hossain could not! He didn’t say anything. After leaving Rahat Bhai, I pulled an empty chair to the side of the big glass window and sat down to see the light outside Bardem Hospital and the cloudy sky. The whole night he did not say a word, in between he opened the book. Sometimes wrote something. He sat quietly for a long time. The light of dawn slowly filled with sunshine outside. Kazi Anwar Hossain took out a 20 taka note from his pants pocket and handed it to me – take breakfast from the restaurant below. Any time today my mother will die.. I knew that so I didn’t talk the whole night, I thought about everything about my mother since childhood.
What else can I say, I quietly left the room. Going down to the bustling restaurant of Shahbagh Market, I saved money by eating hot luchi and tea with semolina halwa. No visit to BTP office on holidays. So I walked to the library of Bangla Motar Biswa Sahitya Kendra and read books till noon. After combining some more money with the money to survive, I ate chicken biryani inside the center and wondered how Khabarni Kazi Anwar Hossain’s mother is doing. There were no cell phones then. In the reception of Bishwa Sahitya Center, I made a phone call to Seva Prakashani. The manager’s name was Israel or Ismail, he picked up the phone in a hurry – his mother died today, the body has not yet come home.
I was surprised how he knew that his mother would die at night!
Today I am sitting in Toronto, far away from Dhaka, wondering if Kazi Anwar Hossain knew before – he will die today?