What is it with King Lear

By Rahad Abir
Yes, what is it with King Lear? Shakespeare is pretty old. Almost everyone knows the tragedy of King Lear—either somehow read it in school or watched the production. So, as the University of Findlay Theatre Program in the Department of Visual and Performing Arts is going to premiere King Lear on November 6, you might wonder what’s new here and why should one care about it?
The very same question, when asked, Dr. Christopher Matsos, assistant professor of Theatre, who has done the adaptation and directed the play, stated, ‘‘Shakespeare tends to be overdone in a mediaeval setting. So, I decided to set the play in a modern American city that is really struggling financially, and the city started to crumble.’’ ‘‘I haven’t really seen one of King Lear that was modern, and I didn’t feel that the full play was what our community is really asking for, so I edited it into about a 90-minute version,’’ he added.     
But, interestingly all of Shakespeare’s original language and poetic…

The Smell // short story by Rahad Abir

It was a fine morning on Sunday, the first day of the work week, and should be rush hour in Dhaka—loud and boisterous, traffic both on the streets and sidewalks, and different confusing lines of waiting-to-board people, occupying half of the streets. But today, the streets looked quiet and still and deserted. Almost everything was shut down. Sohani wished she’d have skived off work today. She had no idea that today would be the longest day of her life. While very few buses were running, few street tea-stalls were open, and few people were seen out and about. Rickshaws dominated the empty streets. Something in everyone’s eyes, something in the air, too—smelled different. Ma called three times this morning; her concerned voice implied why on earth you brave this horrible situation to go to office? It was needed because some papers must be sent to the central bank today, she told. To protest the proceedings at the war crimes tribunal, it was the first day of an unbroken three-day nationwi…

Verses in re-invention

Rahad Abir breezes through street fighter poetry Ever heard of a mobile poetry emporium? Or, composing a poem in every ten minutes on the titles picked from social sites? I bet you haven’t. You might be aware of Ross, a character found in Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Well, here we’re going to talk about a writer/performer, Ross Sutherland, of our time. Once upon a day, at 17, he got an opportunity to perform poetry alongside his hero, the punk-poet John Cooper Clarke. That’s the beginning of his writing career. Born in Edinburgh in 1979, Ross has already had four poetry collections and was included in The Times’ list of Top Ten Literary Stars of 2008. He was on a visit to Bangladesh from the British Council in September last year. Subsequently, he attended an interactive session at the Daily Star Centre, where I had the privilege to meet him. Apart from being a poet, he works as a freelance journalist, teacher and filmmaker. Lately, he has hosted and created a show called Comedian Dies In …

Pencil, sharpener and eraser

When I was a child, one day my dad came to me, ‘‘I’ve got something for you, my boy,’’ he says, ‘‘you’ll need them throughout your life.’’ Quite inquisitive, I looked at them— A pencil, a sharpener and an eraser. I got the ball rolling right away, drawing on the wall. ‘‘He’ll be an artist, you see.’’ Dad declares to mom. Gradually, I began to understand the differences between leads. I preferred 3B pencil. ‘‘Don’t use it much; you’ll make a mess,’’ he tells me. ‘‘You can use it when you are big.’’ Still I used that. And, struggled to erase my mistakes. I tried harder, and, out of the blue, the page went torn. I am a big boy now—a man. I have written lots and lots of pages. There are many words in the pages I left behind— life, love, success, failure, food, break-up, boredom, death, sex, marriage, divorce, deceit, day, night, internet, job, money, memory, traffic, transport, frustration—hell of a lot, I’m sick and tired of writing those again and again. But I still write. Writ…

খালার হলুদমাখা হাত

খালার হলুদমাখা হাত রাহাদ আবির
জীবনে অনেক হলুদ দেখেছি আমি। রঙ্গিন, বিমর্ষ, সাদামাটা। শুভ্র হলুদ বকুলতলা, বসন্তের ম-ম করা রাঙ্গান হলুদ; কৈশোরের বেদনাময় ‘আজ আমেনার গায়ে হলুদ’ কিংবা ঢাকার এই কুঠুরিময় জঙ্গল জীবনের বসন্ত উদযাপন। কিন্তু হলুদ কোথায়? অনেক অনেক বছর আগে একবার খালার বাড়ি গিয়েছিলাম। আমার গ্রাম্য আটপৌরে সতিনের ঘর-করা খালা। বৃদ্ধ সোয়ামির মৃত্যুতে বছর ঘুরতেই যে অষ্টাদশী বিধবা। পাটা-পুতায় হলুদ বাটছিলেন খালা। আমার আসার সংবাদ শোনামাত্র দৌড়ে এসে আমার মুখখানি দুহাতে ধরে সে কি আদর। কেঁদেই ফেললেন, এত বছর পর আমারে দেখতে আইলি, বাজান? বেচারি খালা, মসলা-বাটা হাত ধুয়ে নেয়ার খেয়ালটাও ছিল না। কাঁচা হলুদে আমার মুখ তখন হলুদময়। হলুদের ঝাঁঝে চোখেও পানি টলমল। যৌবনে হলদে শাড়িতে শেফালি কতবারই তো দুহাতে আমার মুখ নিয়ে ওমনি আদর করেছে, চুমু খেয়েছে। কিন্তু কোথায় সেই গাঢ় হলুদমাখান নিখুঁত ভালবাসা? অনেক অনেক বছর পরে আবার খালাকে দেখতে গেলাম। খালা শুয়ে ছিলেন। চোখদুটো প্রায় গর্তে ঢুকে গেছে। পান খাওয়া মুখ। লালচে ঠোঁটের কোল ঘেঁষে জিহ্বাটা এলানো; ঠোঁটের সে কোণে পানের লোল পড়া একটি রেখা শুকিয়ে আছে। …

Links of my writings

Amar Dui Premika Ebong Tiktiki

Amar Dui Premika Ebong Tiktiki
Rahad Abir
Oitijjhya, Dhaka

Rahad Abir is a young journalist who does not appear to want to let go of his literary inclinations. That is quite natural, for he has been a student of English literature. The lessons learnt in class as also his experience of the national cultural perspective has led him into coming forth with this revealing, rather modern, collection of short stories.

(This is published in The Daily Star Book Review. Link: