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OP-ED: What Humayun Ahmed can teach us about communication

  • Published at 08:34 pm July 24th, 2020
Humayun Ahmed
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The media can take a page out of the novelist’s works to understand how to reach an audience

July 19 was the eighth death anniversary of Humayun Ahmed. 

It is difficult to forget him even after so many years of his death, and there is no shortage of discussion about him this year too. However, his literary fame and popularity are discussed more in such discussions. 

As I was not a student of literature, I cannot judge the literary value of his novels, songs, dramas, etc. But as a student of communication, I can say without a doubt that he was an extraordinary communicator, motivator, and story-teller who could capture the emotions and feelings of the people of this country. Moreover, he displayed his literary brilliance with an excellent sense of humour.

Unlike European and American people, journalists and writers in our sub-continent still think that if they can’t write in a complicated way along with unfamiliar words, their creations will be underrated. 

The argument behind is like this: If everyone understands my writings, then what kind of writer am I? Humayun Ahmed was able to break this notion with his simple, straightforward, and unpretentious language. As a skilled communicator, he was able to touch the hearts of his countless readers and viewers. 

Humayun Ahmed has taught us that many complex ideas or psychological issues can be stated and conveyed easily.

Our mainstream media is now plagued with various problems. Newspapers are losing their readers and television channels are losing viewers. Unfortunately, our media has not yet learned from the hypnotic power of Humayun Ahmed to hold the audience. Many aspects of Humayun Ahmed’s life are now discussed, but his creativity is still less discussed from a communications point of view. 

I think this is why the study of Humayun Ahmed is still relevant to the students of journalism, media, and communication. His plays, novels, stories, and movies reveal the deep complexities and depth of human relationships. 

The diversity of human relationships, as reflected in his diverse creations, can be used as examples of communication theories for students of communication.  

He was a real Bengali, a true son of the soil who understood the complex Bengali psychology of our men and women. He did not behave like other typical writers and intellectuals. He became a democratic institution -- people of all ideologies respected him equally in a multi-faceted society. 

He understood that simplicity, drama, and spirituality are the mainstays of the life of the people of our country -- and it is reflected in almost all his creations. People have returned this understanding to him with love -- he has seen himself at the pinnacle of fame.

Another aspect of him that fascinates me in terms of communication is his ability to influence people’s psyche, or his motivational power. His dream of a young generation devoted to the service of the people, while wearing a yellow punjabi, had a profound effect on the youth. 

In the last few years, especially during this corona period, we have been witnessing a strange, heartless, unfriendly people in Bangladesh. There could be many reasons for this -- but one reason must be that we don’t have a Humayun Ahmed now.

I firmly believe that if Humayun Ahmed were still alive now, our social life would not have deteriorated so much. His writings could have influenced us and evoked our human values. He was a philanthropist and built a school for the children in a remote area. 

He also dreamed of a cancer hospital. But his greatest achievement was that he could instill in the readers the pain of tormented hearts through his work. 

That is his greatest success, one that makes people cry and empathize with others. Not unexpectedly, such competence made him stand out from the crowd in the creative industry. 

This is just my personal feeling. When it comes to understanding the media, I always ask everyone to study Humayun Ahmed. The human communication system in the 21st century has changed a lot. People want writing to be direct and communicative, where Humayun Ahmed especially excelled. 

I still learn a lot from him. As a writer, the biggest challenge for me is to present my arguments in the simplest possible manner. At the same time, I can say, because of being related to the communications sector, that it is one of the most arduous jobs for a writer. 

Md Shamsul Islam is a media consultant and a newspaper columnist. He can be contacted at [email protected]

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