Abdul Mannan Syed – Literary Master

Award-winning Bangladeshi author, poet and researcher Abdul Mannan Syed was born in 1943 in the village of Jalalpur in what was then the region of West Bengal, now Pakistan. This was a time of famine, unrest and upheaval that forced his family to move to East Bengal and then to East Pakistan, to settle in Dhaka, in the region which is now Bangladesh. This upheaval was very difficult for Abdul Mannan Syed and he reportedly said that he always felt like a refugee. Nevertheless, his contribution to the Bangladeshi literary world is widely acknowledged and he was, and continues to be, viewed as an asset to the country.

When the family moved to Dhaka, Abdul Mannan Syed’s father bought a piece of land on what was then known as Kuli Road, later becoming Green Road, and this is where Abdul Mannan Syed lived until he passed away. His father was a public official who felt strongly about his children – six sons and four daughters – getting a formal education and Abdul Mannan Syed attended Nawabpur High School, Dhaka College and Dhaka University, focusing on Bengali language literature and language, obtaining BA and MA degrees in 1963 and 1964 – going on to teach these subjects in government colleges.

Although he is most likely best known for his research on the life and works of Bengali poet Jibanananda Das, Abdul Mannan Syed was himself a prolific and talented writer and poet. At one stage he served as the Director General of the Nazrul Institute, and was also associated with the monthly literary magazine Shilpataru, published by fellow poet Abid Azad. His works included poetry, with the first being published in 1967 (Janmandho Kobita Guchcha) and regular publications continuing until 2008 (Ogghraner Nil Din). He also wrote a number of novels and did editorial work on other writers’ works, including those written by Bengali writer Abdur Rouf Choudhury.

Awards made to this well-respected literary figure include a Bangla Academy Award and Alaol Literary Award in 1981, the Kabi Jusimuddin Award, and the Farrukh Memorial Award from the Chattagram Sangskriti Kendro in 1991. Certainly, with the sudden passing away of Abdul Mannan Syed in August 2010, Bangladesh mourned the loss of a literary stalwart.