Ishaque, Abu

Ishaque, Abu (1926-2003) fiction writer, lexicographer, was born on 1 November 1926 at village Shirongol in Shariatpur district. His father was Muhammad Ebadullah and mother, Atharunnissa.

Abu Ishaque did his secondary schooling from Uapsi Bijari Taraprasanna English High School at Naria upazila in 1942, higher secondary from Faridpur Rajendra College in 1944 and graduation from Karachi University in 1960.

Abu Ishaque first joined as a supervisor in a semi-government organisation. After partition of the subcontinent, he joined the Police Department as a Sub-Inspector and served in Karachi, Rawalpindi and Islamabad until 1956.

After liberation he came over to Dhaka and joined the National Security Intelligence as a Deputy Director in 1973. A year later, he was posted as Vice-Consul in the Bangladesh Mission at Akyab in Myanmar and in 1976 he became a First Secretary at the Bangladesh Deputy High Commission in Calcutta. In 1979 he was posted in Khulna as the Divisional Chief of NSI and from there he retired in 1984.

He made his debut as a writer with the appearance of his short story 'Abhishap' in Calcutta's Bengali daily Nabajug, edited by Kazi Nazrul Islam. His other writings appeared in Calcutta's Saogat, Azad etc. He wrote his first novel Surya Deeghal Badi in the background of four major historical events like the Second World War, famine, communal riots and partition of the subcontinent. His writing technique and the theme immediately attracted the attention of the readers. The primary theme of the novel was the struggle for survival of husband-forsaken Jaigun with her two children. Famine-stricken Jaigun first left her village for the city in search of food but the barren, bitter and heartless city life drove her back to her village only to become an inescapable victim of fanaticism and revenge of social superiors and to suffer untold miseries and sufferings. The writer has shown that independence had brought about no change in the economic life of the working people of the villages. In fact, their sufferings had multiplied. Surya Deeghal Badi was cast into a film and also translated into several foreign languages.

Abu Ishaque's second novel Padmar Polidwip was published in 1986. It speaks of the life struggle of the people who live on the sand strips rising out of the Padma's bed. Although written after a lapse of decades it indicates the writer's outlook. The basic theme of Abu Ishaque's novels is people's struggle for existence. Consequently, his novels demonstrate a kind of consciousness of futile rebellion.

His third novel was Jal written in detective style. He published two books on short stories – Harem (1962) and Mahapatra(1963). As in his novels, the life struggle of landless people and of those stricken by wars and famines is reflected in his short stories. His only play was Joyoddhani. His autobiographical book Smritibichitra was published in 2001.

Abu Ishaque was also reputed as a lexicographer. He widened the sphere of Bengali lexicography with the publication of his two-volume Samakalin Bangla Bhashar Abhidhan. A distinctive feature of his dictionary was that its words not only had their meanings but also all kinds of their synonyms. His dictionary gives 127 synonyms for the word andhakar.

For his contribution to Bangla literature, Abu Ishaque was awarded 'Bangla Academy Sahitya Puraskar' in 1963, 'Sundarban Sahitya Padak' in 1981, 'Bangladesh Lekhika Sangha Sahitya Padak' in 1990, Swadhinata Padak (posthumous) in 2004 and 'Shishu Academy Padak (posthumous) in 2006. He died in Dhaka on 16 February 2003. [Wakil Ahmed]