[Draft: The translation needs further modification. Please remember, I have simply tried to convey the plain meaning of his speech, decorated with words that I could not translate. Therefore, some unintended minor inaccuracy is quite possible. There have been some repetitive expressions in such superlatives that, being unable to translate, I had skipped some of those. Reading the original would be an worthy venture too.]
The Awakening of the Free Spirit
Translated by: Mohammad Omar Farooq
The Original: Shwadhin-chittotar jagoron
[The following is a translation of a speech Nazrul gave at a reception ceremony in 1940, toward the very late part of his literary/artistic life - less than two years before silence descended on his voice. "Shwadhin-chittotar Jagoron" (The Awakening of the Spirit of Freedom). Nazrul Rochonaboli, 1996 ed., Bangla Academy, Vol. 4, pp. 114-116]
For honoring me by giving the opportunity to preside over this Eid Conference, I thank the authority of the Bongio Musalman Shahitto Shomiti (Bengal Muslim Literary Association). Let me first congratulate you with Eid Mubarak! The celebration of Eid is celebration of joy, celebration of sacrifice. The root of this celebration is the call for sacrificing everything in the path of Allah. This sacrifice (Qurbani) has been mentioned in Surah al-Baqarah. I am also drawing your attention to ponder over the significance of mentioning of Jaitun or olive (and other pertinent aspects) ... in Surah an-Noor. It is urged in the Qur'an that we must sacrifice all our wealth and riches in the name of Allah. One can cheat himself or be deluded by sacrificing a cow, but one can't deceive Allah by that.
All riches and wealth must be sacrificed for the cause of Allah. In the wealth of the rich and in the treasure of wisdom of the wise, there is equal right of all people. It is due to this principle that Islam has earned its respect and glory in the world. Studying the history of the revolutionary movements of the contemporary political world, one can easily see that the root of communism and socialism is in Islam. You may not have right in my food for sustenance, but you do have right in my surplus wealth - this is teaching of Islam. No other religion has offered such guidance and proclamation for humanity. That is the true message of Eid (celebration).
Today is the conference of poetry (mushayera). Here have gathered the poets and writers. Poets, writers, artists (musicians) bring out the message of the world of joy and beauty. That's why they are pride of the human civilization. The thirst of humanity for joy and beauty is eternal. The way people feel hungry for food, they also have yearning for beauty. It is from this yearning for beauty comes poetry - poets are born. To cater happiness and beauty to the humanity are the poets. Komol (lotus) grows in water. Could it blossom without water? To satisfy the yearning of the non-poets come the poets. There is a place for this beauteous dimension parallel to the routine or mundane aspects of our life. Once I saw someone returning from the bazar with a hen in one hand and a Rajanigandha (tuberose) in the other. I expressed my appreciation to him: "I have never seen such juxtaposition of the Fair and Fowl (foul)."
The task of catering this beauty and nectar is in the hands of the poets and writers. This path may bring pain and suffering for the writers, but they must not be daunted. People hardly have anything left beyond their struggle for food (survival). By growing paddy people turn acres after acres into jungle, but how many people arrange for growing roses? It is further unfortunate that the thirst of our educated people for beauty and aesthetics is marginal. But we must not be frustrated. We must embrace the strike of pain and suffering as we welcome the call of happiness. The life and the creation of the poets and writers are like Lotus, a bunch of which blossom from the pang of pain and suffering.
I remember so vividly - one of my most painful moments of my life. My son was dead. When my heart was broken by the burden of my grief, the same day a Hasna-Hena blossmed in my home. I smelled the fragrance of Hasna-Hena to my heart's fill. This is how life is to be relished - this is fulfillment of life. I have cherished this experience of life. My poetry and songs have grown out of my life's experience. I have sung with the rhythm of life - all these are expressions of that. Whether my poetry was great or not so great, I don't know. But I want to emphasize - I have enjoyed my life fully. I have not freaked at suffering or adversity. I have jumped into every crushing wave of life. I was the first in my class. The headmaster was very hopeful - I will enhance the glory of the school. But at that time came the world war of Europe. One day I saw, platoons are going to the war. I joined them too. I went to Chittagong, saw the sea. I have tried to complete my life by jumping into it. Once a policeman aimed his pistol in front of my head and said: "I can kill you". I replied: "Friend, I have always been looking for death."
My expectation from our youth - they should advance in life to fully live and enjoy it. I have been broken hearted by seeing our contemporary youth. They seem to be struck with senility. I hardly see any radiance and vitality in their life. I want to see the return of life and youth like a flood that overflows the banks of a river. We must free our lives from all fears. We have to understand this world of creation, seek knowledge about it, and have to enjoy it to the fullest. That's why I have so much respect for the scientists of this age. They have sought to explore the mystery of creation. How wonderful is their resolve and self-confidence. That we will learn about the all the worlds, all the creations - we will understand and realize them - may this confidence emerge in the life of our youth. That's what we want. We have filled the bowl of our life with trash. Our life-bowl needs to be a repertoire of what is worthy by cleaning it up. There are pebbles in the river, but they don't get a drop of water. Because its inside is not empty (free). Our heart has to be freed first to conquer greatness in life. Allah is the Supreme Creator. His creation is so great and vast. The treasure of creation as we see in moon-sun-star was born in the background of that ever-creative canvas. The endeavor to know, understand and appreciate it is the highest quest of life. That's why we cherish that free and great life.
We have to shed all fear, weakness and cowardice. We have to live demanding the right of justice, not begging for it. We won't bow our head before anyone - we will mend shoes at street sides, we will live modest life based on our own earnings, but we won't turn to others for pity or charity. This awakening spirit of freedom and dignity is what I want to see in the Muslim youth of Bangla. This is the essence of Islam's teachings. I invite all to embrace this teaching. In my life I have embraced this very teaching. I have suffered pain, I have embraced all the hurt with smile, but I have never bowed before humiliation of my spirit. I have never surrendered my freedom. "Say O Valiant! Ever high and upright is my head" - I found this song from the realization of that very same message. I want to see the rebirth of that free-spirit. This is the supreme message of Islam - the essence of Islam."
[Source: Nazrul Rochonaboli, Vol. 4, 1996, pp. 114-116]