Review of Bicholito Somoy
Mughals and the Ahom Raj
History Recollected in Fiction
This is to introduce Abdun Noor's epic of the seventeenth century
life in Dhaka under the Mughals. Married to Najma, an Assamese,
Noor was inspired to look east in his quest for a romantic story
with an authentic underpinning. This led to a research into
available historical documents over a period of five years on
the relationship between the Mughals and Assam, then known as
result of this work of love, inquisitiveness and imagination is
a book of four hundred plus pages in Bangla, "Bicholito Somoy".
It is a story of romance, intrigue and valour. Aurangzeb's third
son, Prince Mohamamd Azam Shah, sent by the emperor as the Subedar
to the difficult but rich province of Bengal in 1678, is one of
the principal characters. The book was published by Magnum Opus
during the last Boi Mela in Dhaka. A worthy feature is that all
profits from the sale of this book would be contributed to the
Grameen Shikkha Trust of the Grameen Bank for awarding scholarships
to poor students in the rural areas.
a writer of plays and fiction, Abdun Noor has produced a historical
novel of great interest to those who are eager to know about Dhaka's
ancient history, glory and tragedies. Readers will not be disappointed.
The book is rich in historical events, around which the fictional
account has been woven, in an intricate tapestry of fine prose.
The characters speak softly into the reader's ears, with the author
taking the role of a behind the scene prompter and narrator.
author makes no claim of writing history but is confident of the
solid foundations of his two-part novel, the present book being
the first part. Prince Azam, a capable general and administrator
at the young age of twenty-seven and trusted by his father, did
come to Dhaka as the Subedar. He came to replace Shaista Khan,
who ruled Bengal with distinction until his enemies spread the
word that he was not transferring the collected revenues due to
the emperor in Delhi. Aurangzeb sent Azam to enquire into the
allegations and clear up the mess. Azam, however, was recalled
after only fifteen months when Aurangzeb needed a trustworthy
general to lead the Mughal forces in the war in the Deccan. The
allegations against Shaista Khan were not conclusively proved,
nor was he fully cleared. Since no other suitable person was available
for Sube Bangla, known as a punishment posting, he returned to
Bengal a second time as the Subedar.
as it was from attacks and assertion of suzerainty by the Mughals
from time to time, the Ahom Rajjya often attracted attention of
the Mughals for another reason. It was in a strategic position
being on the route to China. Aurangzeb had expanded the Mughal
supremacy to the farthest corners-from Afghanistan to Burma, and
Kashmir to the Deccan. His ambition was to move toward China and
had reportedly asked Azam to look into the possibilities. Earlier
in 1673, during Mir Zumla's time as Subeder, fearing invasion
by the Mughals and the loss of his kingdom, the Hindu Ahom Raja
had sent huge sums of money, elephants and also his young daughter,
Princess Nangsen Gabharu to Delhi to be kept there as a hostage.
Gabharu was brought up as a princess in the palace harem, with
all the rights and honour. While she pined for her native land,
she also developed affection for the dashing Prince Azam. Anecdotal
evidence suggests that Azam also fell in love with the Ahom princess
and married her against the wishes of the imperial court.
fictional part of Bicholito Somoy is the story of the life and
times of that era in Dhaka when it was a mixture of the grandeur
of the life of the nobles and the hard life and reality of the
common people. The Ahom princess, wielding considerable influence
in the court via Azam Shah, was both a figure of respect and deference
to some and an object of envy and enmity to others. The intrigues
from which Gabharu suffered and the ups-and-downs of her tempestuous
relationship with the Mughal Prince are narrated in a manner that
the story often appears to be real. When Prince Azam left Bengal
in 1969, all traces of Nangsen Gabharu vanished. According to
folklore, the Ahom Princess was assassinated and buried in the
Lalbagh Fort before the departure of Prince Azam. Some say that
Pari Bibi's mazar is of none other than Gabharu, who might have
been given that name. One of the daughters of Shaista Khan was
Iran Dukht, who could also be buried in the Fort.
history and part fiction, Bicholito Somoy would be a thoroughly
enjoyable reading for the richness of its story and the manner
of its telling.
Noor has devoted his entire professional life of 44 years to foster
development among least developing countries of Africa, Asia,
Middle East, Latin America and Caribbean; of which 35 years were
from the World Bank. Abdun has earned his PhD in Educational Administration
from Michigan State University (1965); and studied at Graduate
School of Education of Stanford University (1987). He joined the
World Bank in 1970.
development contribution encompasses five distinct dimensions
of work. First, he has engaged for diversified policy reforms
and analytical research work for education and manpower development
across 30 least developing countries. As a young policy planner
during early seventies, he has articulated for the World Bank
its policy initiative on Education and meeting of Basic
Human Needs, 1979; for the UNESCO he has written a think
piece on Managing Adult Literacy Programs which also
became his key note presentation at the Arusha International Literacy
Conference convened by the Unesco in 1984. Abdun has advanced
the cause of non formal education in a civil society, the role
the NGOs could play to discern that contribution, within
World Bank; and organized and directed the first tripartite high
level meeting of Clients, NGOs, and The World Bank representing
12 east and south African countries at Nairobi in 1983.
Abdun have managed long-term educational and institutional policy
reforms at central planning, policy and decision-making levels.
He has lead preparation of the education and manpower development
program of the First Five Year Plan of the Governments of Bangladesh
(1973), and the Fourth Five Year Development Plan of Pakistan
(1968). Abdun has lead the World Banks technical assistance
program on education and manpower development for Iran and Saudi
Arabia (1974); and contributed to the design of their programs
of higher education, adult literacy, teacher training and manpower
development. Abdun has served as the counterpart Technical Advisor
to the Minister of Higher Education in Ethiopia and helped in
designing the plan for development of institutions of higher education
of Ethiopia (1984).
Abdun conducted extensive operational work in project management,
including design, implementation, management, and evaluation of
human resources development, and poverty alleviation projects
across the globe from seventies to nineties; as a portfolio manager
in the East African Region during nineties he has overseen the
implementation of 30 human resource development projects worth
US$ 2 billions.
Abdun has carried out design and delivery of innovative learning
and training courses on The World Banks Operations and Portfolio
Management for senior staff of the World Bank; Islamic Development
Bank; European University of Peace; and Austrian Study Center
for Peace and Conflict Resolution and for Arab Bank for development
finally, recognized as a Playwright, Novelist and Essayist, in
his country Bangladesh and abroad, Abdun has carried out his creative
writings throughout the period of 1952-2002. Abduns writings
reflect the internationalism of his life and span the globe. The
first novel, PEGUSUS, 1980, is based on the life of Guyana; the
second novel, SHUNNA BRITTO -The Empty Circle- 1990,
is based on the life of expatriate immigrant Indians sub continentals
residing is USA; the third novel, UTTARAN, Transition of A Married
Women 2003, is based of midlife crisis of a modern Bangladeshi
in her own land.
has just published an epic novel, BICHOLITO SOMOY - The
Uncertain Time-, of over thousand pages in two volumes, covering
rise of Bengali nationalism during the period of 17th century
India. The publisher is Magnum Opus.
In addition, Abdun has written many plays, which were broadcast
over TV Channels in Bangladesh, were translated and staged in
abroad. His English play Quest had been staged and
repeatedly performed in Washington DC. Furthermore, as a live
Public Television Broadcaster, Abdun continues to compare discussion
forums on culture and development for different TV channels of
Washington DC and Bangladesh.
is the proud father of two sons and a daughter. The eldest son,
Waseem 34, graduated from Stanford University as a presidential
scholar and earned his doctorate in economics from the Columbia
University. The daughter, Nausheen, 24, graduating from the University
of Pennsylvania served as an executive consultant with Gap International
and currently pursuing graduate studies at SOAS. The youngest
son, Wameek 22, graduating from the Vassar College, served as
a staff of the Corporate Executive Board at Washington DC and
to returned to SAIS of John Hopkins University in September 2005.
Najma, his wife of 37 years, is a teacher. They both live in Potomac,