Bangla Academy Literary Award for Riton and His Waltz with the Wolf
Lutfur Rahman Riton received Bangla Academy Award 2007 on juvenile literature. This award earned him kudos and criticism as well. The timing of give and take of this award churned a cloud of suspicion in many minds including mine, more apolitical less literary and a long time admirer of Riton. A recent poetry of Riton, a posthumous tribute to the greatest pen-warrior Wahidul Huq, helped me see Riton at a much higher ground, much beyond his limericks and spoofs. His sudden arrival in Canada couple of years ago, as a political exile, had created a huge inertia of excitement among his fans and local Bangalee literary hubs. That also has decimated in a relatively short time, and his initial presence at the centre of every arty and literary podium has now reduced to living room sizzling adda. His life in Ottawa gliding on odd jobs was not uncommon for a starter in Canada, but certainly a huge plunge from his immediate velvety past as a diplomat. His diplomatic assignment in Japan is found as critically inappropriate but hefty dividend of his earlier political investments, thanks to Awami League’s brief respite from street to the power.
However, the timing of Riton,s open letter to General Moeen U published on June 22, 2007 in ‘Weekly 2000’ with a shrill of appreciation for the General left many of his fans and comrades like me flabbergasted. Particularly, when the time, tune and the turf have been too hostile for an aficionado of democracy to waltz with the wolf. .In his open letter to the General, Riton articulated his total alliance, punctuated by a feeble request to stop liaisons with war criminals, with the mesmerising ambitions of the General on political reforms and corruption cleansing. Riton’s emotional aberration went further in cajoling the General to pay him eighty dollar that he spent on overseas calls for his abortive attempt to contact the General for a live chat and to whisper his love for his agendas. General did not falter to seize the opportunity and precisely after a month on July 22, 2007, in an interview, in a befitting response to his new found ‘beau politico’, he assured him bounty much more than mere eighty dollar.
Riton often used to complain about a bus ticket to Toronto that his pedestrian life in Ottawa could not afford him. Last month, all of a sudden, he found a magic carpet to fly him in luxury to Bangladesh. Public radar got the blips from Dhaka of a floral reception and goose step honour on red carpet and a ceremonial handover of a ‘lifetime ladder’. The first step of the telescopic ladder took him to the podium of Bangla Academy. A prestige envelope with a point One Million Taka cheque was the first consignment of humble payback from the General in response to a meagre demand of Dollar Eighty. And a certificate, which Riton undisputedly deserves but not from this Bangla Academy, was an untimely harvest of his life long cultivation.