Young World

Poetic crusader

Haldhar Nag  

Marks are not the measure of a person’s intelligence, and no one bears better testimony to this than Haldhar Nag. He is 66 years old and is from Odisha. Nag is a poet and his poems are written in Kosli (which is also known as Sambalpuri, and is the western-variation of the Odia language). He remembers all of them and can reel them off verbatim, on demand. Five research scholars have based their PhD theses on him.

Last week, Nag was awarded the Padma Shri from President Pranab Mukherjee.

Born on March 31, 1950, to a poor family of Ghens in Odisha’s Bargarh district, he lost his father when he was 10. Because the family could not afford to keep in him in school, he was forced to drop out after Std. III and work as a dishwasher at a local sweetmeat shop.

Two years later, the village head took him to a high school and Nag worked there as a cook for 16 years. At the same time, a number of schools mushroomed in the area and Nag realised that there were other ways of making a livelihood. He took a loan of Rs.1,000 and opened a shop where he sold stationery to children from the surrounding schools.

Early start

It was during this period that Nag penned his first poem, sowing the seeds to fame and popularity.

His first poem, Dhodo Bargachh (The Old Banyan Tree) was published in a local magazine. Buoyed by his initial success, four more poems followed in quick succession, all of which were published.

“I was felicitated and that encouraged me to write more,” says Nag, who then began visiting nearby villages to recite his poems. The response he received was phenomenal, and soon, he began to be known as Lok Kabi Ratna.

Nag fights for the oppressed and marginalised through his poems. A crusader in his own right, social reformation through protecting human dignity ranks high on the list of issues he writes about. Added to his numerous talents, he is also known for his prolific memory. He remembers whatever he writes. One has to only mention the issue or the name of the subject and Nag can reel off his poems with ease.

Nag’s poems will soon play an instrumental role in educating the youth. Sambalpur University is coming up with a compilation of his writings — Haldhar Granthabali-2 — which will be a part of its syllabus.

A man of simple needs, he believes, “Poetry must have real-life connection and a message for the people.”

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Printable version | Jul 27, 2021 10:29:42 PM |

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