Saturday, April 2, 2016

Padma Shri Haldhar Nag: The barely-literate Indian Word-Smith!

BANGALORE: “I wanted to write something after engineering but I didn’t get the right platform”. “If I would have found some sponsors, I would have been the best poet this world has seen”. No! These are not the quotes uttered by great personalities. These are mere excuses that we give when someone asks “why didn’t you follow your dream to be a writer?” Off-course we could have been one of the better writers but we didn’t have the zeal! Humans have proved time and time again how mighty willpower and passion are! You and I may have failed, but there are many miracle humans who have made their life applause-worthy! One such miracle man is Haldhar Nag, a barely-literate Indian Word-Smith! (Credits: News Desk). A 3rd standard drop-out, Nag has 5 PhD scholars have written their theses on him. Not only that, this year he was awarded one of the highest civilian honors “Padma Shri” by President Pranab Mukherjee!

Born in a poor family of Ghens in Bargarh district of Odisha, Nag is also known as “Lok kabi Ratna” for his 20 epics and numerous poems in Kosli language. Nag studied in school only till class 3 as he had to drop out of school due to his father’s sad demise. He was only 10 years old then. He had to help his mother in sustaining the family and thus Nag started to work as a dishwasher at a local sweet shop. This continued for 2 years, after which he was taken as a cook in the high school by the village head.

For 16 years, Nag continued to work as a cook but soon, a number of schools came up in his area. Seeing the opportunity to start a business, Nag approached a banker and got Rs 1,000 loan to start a small shop selling stationeries and eatables for school students. Apart from selling stationeries and eatables, Nag started to pen down some poems as well. It was during this time that he wrote his first poem ’Dhodo Bargachh’ (The Old Banyan Tree) which even got published in the local magazine. It was no looking back for Nag after that as he got recognition which encouraged him to write more.

“He remembers whatever he writes and has been reciting them. You just need to mention the name or subject. He never misses anything. Now he attends at least three to four programmes every day to recite his poems,” told a close associate of the poet to TOI. His tremendous contribution towards the Sambalpuri-Kosli language movement and Kosli literature made the government of India award him with Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian award in 2016. Nag rates the youngsters of Kosli very high as all of them have huge interest towards poetry and writing. Although he thinks that a very few of them have the art to give their inner feelings, the shape of a poem but still he says in a proud tone, “Everyone Here is a Poet!”.

A decorated poet, a known figure and a Padma Shri, Nag has achieved plenty in his life but nothing has changed his style of living! He still leads an austere life and can always be seen in a white dhoti and a vest, without any footwear. One can only imagine that how someone can be so focused on what he does, that he forgets what he wears! As was famously quoted by Mark Twain “Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.” Well, Mr. Twain, this Indian is way beyond your envision! Sambalpur University, located at Sambalpur in Odisha has announced that it will come out with a compilation of Haldhar Nag’s Creations! The book will be a part of the syllabus of university and will be named as “Haldhar Granthabali-2”.

Even if the story of this barely literate word-smith makes us to bow down and salute him but what we should learn from his story is it doesn’t matter whether you are born with a golden spoon or in a corporate hospital, it doesn’t matter whether you have talent or not, and it doesn’t matter whether you are a PhD holder or a high school drop out! All what matters is whether you have that passion and excitement or not! The passions that drives you crazy! The passion that you can’t live without! The passion that gives you sleepless nights!

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