Drop-out But Not Dropped Out : Haldar Nag

               No one had expected a 66 year old, third grade dropout to be awarded with one of the most prestigious civilian awards given in India, and that too, for his writings; but that is exactly what happened with Haldar Nag, a Kosli language literary phenomenon hailing from Odisha, India.

A simple man who wears only a dhoti (a piece of cloth tied around the waist) and a vest, he started his long string of jobs from being a dish washer at local sweet shop and then to opening his own little shop that sells stationeries and edibles for school students. He had also tried his luck being a cook at a local high school as well, which lasted for 16 years. Nag had to drop out of school at a very young age when he was in the third grade, due to responsibilities handed over to him because of his father’s untimely death.

In 1990, he wrote his first poem ‘DhodoBargachh’, meaning ‘the Old Banyan Tree’ (which was published in the same year. Nag’s poems were unique and brought him felicitations from various sources that encouraged him to write more. His works have been recognised worldwide at this 

point of time. The theme of his poetry varies from myth,society, politics, religion, nature as well as scientific events. He has been compared many a times to the great Oriya poet GangadharMeher.

A close associate of the poet said,"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."

Nag’s writings and literary works have been researched upon by five PhD scholars from various universities in India and people continue to flock over to his programmes where he recites his poems to eager crowds. He is known as the LokKabiRatna of Odisha and is very popular in his village. He believes that poetry should have a real-life connection and a message for the people. 

Nag believes that everybody has a poet in them, but only a few have the ability or skill to bring out what they want to say, through poems. This old man who does not even have the average level of school education, has composed 20 epics and several stories that have rendered his readers aghast, wondering

whether education, or lack of it, can bring out such brilliance from anybody.

Even the British media giant BBC has made a documentary of this technically barely literate man who has changed his life with unrelenting imagination and creativity, and given immense inspiration to many who are struggling to find their place in the literary world. The Sambhalpur University in Odisha, is all in to compile all of his writings and include the book in the University syllabus as well. For a  man  who  has raised the name of Odisha to international standards, it is the least Odisha can do.

Nag lost his father at the tender age of ten and he was forced to take up his family responsibilities. He was certainly not a man of means but his poetic uniqueness and wisdom impressed several crowds.

In western Odisha, Kosli poet Haldhar Nag is considered deservingly as a champion. Nag started with writing stories and then followed through, writing poems and 20 epics, all of which are unique and one better than each other.

Many young poets follow his style and technique in Western Odisha. Nag fights for the oppressed through his revolutionary writing and social reformation on the basis of human dignity is high on his list. He has been at the forefront of the Sambhalpuri-Kosli language movement for inclusion in 8th schedule of Constitution. He was awarded Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian award of India by Government of India in 2016.

Haldar Nag breaks all stereotypes in the world of literature, proving that one does not need high academic qualifications or deep study to understand the truth of life and put it into words. Nag paints the pictures of the grim realities of life and shows it to the world to learn from and get inspired from, in the best way possible. His life, is his masterpiece.

 

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