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Renowned Litterateur Syed Abdul Malik Remembered

Northeast Newsletter

, by DR. SYED AHMED

The 9th anniversary of the passing away of Syed Abdul Malik, one of the most widely known and popular writers of the Assamese literature, was observed at his native place Golaghat , Assam by the Golaghat Sahitya Sabha on December 24 last. The day-long programme was held at the Sahitya Acharyya Abdul Malik Bhavan, built in his memory. Many literary figures of the state recalled Abdul Malik and his contributions to the Assamese literature.
Well-known journalist Sanjoy Hazarika recalled the glorious life of Abdul Malik, whom he affectionately called “Sahitya Acharyya.” Hazarika also mentioned some of the cherished moments that he had spent with the literary legend. Noted educationist of the state Punyeswar Pujari expressed that the works of Abdul Malik should be showcased not only in Assam but also in other states and even outside the nation. Pabitra Barbora, a member of Assam Sahitya Sabha acknowledged Abdul Malik as the “Sahityarathi” next only to the literary giant Lakhminath Bezbaruah.
A few days later, on January 10, a statue of Abdul Malik was unveiled in the premises of Golaghat District Sahitya Sabha Bhavan. A programme was also organised in this regard. The statue was built by Golaghat District Sahitya Sabha with financial assistance from the Project Director of DRDA, Golaghat.
Abdul Malik passed away on December 20, 2000 at the age of 81. He was born to Syed Rahmat Ali and Syeda Lutfun Nissa at Naharani village of Golaghat district on January 15, 1919. Abdul Malik took to fiction writing at an early age. His first novel, La Sa Gu, was published in series in a monthly magazine Banhi in 1945-46.  
Abdul Malik has left behind an exceedingly huge collection of works which includes 60 novels, 11 plays, five collections of poems, five books for children, three travelogues and 1000 short stories. Some of his most popular novels are Adharxila (Foundation Stone); Doctor Arunabhor Asampurna Jivani (Dr Arunabh’s Unfinished Biography); Kavitar Naam Labha (Lava is the Name of the Poem), Aghari Atmar Kahini (Tale of Nomadic Souls), Pran Samudra (Ocean of Life), Trisul (Trident), Dukhan Nadi aru Ekhon Marubhumi (Two Rivers and a Desert), Rup Tirhar Yatri (1963-65), based on the live of Rupkonwar Jyoti Prasad Agarwalla, and Dhanya Nara Tanu Bhaal, based on the life and times of the great Vaishnavite saint Sankaradeva. Some of Abdul Malik’s short story collections are Sikhare Sikhare, Ranga Gorah, Parashmani, Ejani Natun Sowali, Maraha Papori, etc.
Most of Abdul Malik’s works have romantic themes. However, there are other works which deal with socio-economic problems like social inequalities, racial discrimination, pain and sufferings of the downtrodden, etc. He has also written some non-fiction works. For instance, Asamiya Zikir Aru Jari is a monumental research work of Abdul Malik based on the life of the renowned Muslim saint Ajan Fakir who came to Assam in the 17th century. In this work he collected and analysed the devotional songs, called Zikir and Jari, said to have been composed by Ajan Fakir. The work, published in 1958, was sponsored by Asam Sahitya Sabha and Department of Tribal Culture and Folklore Research, Guwahati. A widely travelled man, Abdul Malik wrote travelogues on England, China, Russia and the Middle East. These travelogues are regarded as those among the best works written in the category in Assamese.
Many of Abdul Malik’s works have been translated into major Indian languages, while many of his novels and short stories have been made into films.
Abdul Malik rendered his services as professor of the Assamese language and literature for 40 years. Abdul Malik was also associated with many literary societies. He was one of the prominent members of Asom Sahitya Sabha, the oldest and most prominent literary society in North-east India, established in 1917. He was the President of the Sabha in 1977. Abdul Malik was also Member of the Rajya Sabha for one term (in 1983).
Abdul Malik was conferred with the Padma Shri (1984) and Padma Bhushan (1992), and the prestigious state award Srimanta Sankaradeva Award (1999). He was awarded Sahitya Akademi Award for his novel, Aghari Atmar Kahini.
Reviewing Abdul Malik’s contributions to the Assamese literature, Malaya Khaundwrites, “In terms of statistics of fictional work, Syed Abdul Malik was unrivalled. No other writer has contributed so extensively towards the growth of the Assamese literature as he did. Malik’s contribution to the Assamese literature, particularly in the sphere of short story and novel, is indeed noteworthy. He is the foremost among the fiction writers of the pre as well as post World War period who have successfully depicted the problems of man and the society… (his) creative genius not only enriched Assamese fiction literature but also made it colourful and vivid. Syed Abdul Malik’s advent in Assam’s literary horizon marked a new chapter. Writing continuously till his death, he not only brought about a new wave but also became the symbol of continuity – a bridge between the pre and post war literature.”


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