Interview: Abu Siddik

Kamarudeen Mustapha

Abu Siddik in Discussion with Kamarudeen Mustapha

Kamarudeen Mustapha: Writers are born and writers are made:  which of these assertions is truer considering your development and growth as a writer?

Abu Siddik: I can’t deny that writers are born. However, I am more inclined to agree with your second assertion. In my case certain unhappy incidents, both in my personal and public life, haunt me to write stories and poems or a book.  When a story is finished, I always feel free.  Writing to me is a kind of emotional release.  Obviously there are some masters who come to my rescue in my dark hour. So, real life incidents play a crucial role in my development as a writer.

Abu Siddik
Kamarudeen Mustapha: What is your childhood like? How much does your childhood experience and family influence your emergence as a fiction writer?

Abu Siddik: We are five brothers and two sisters. I grow up in an idyllic village. My father is a hard working farmer. He sent all of us to colleges with his meager means. We have some acres of protean lands, and we survive on that.  Extreme poverty coupled with boundless joy in nature find an expression in my stories. It is because of my childhood background.  So, forests, fields, hills, skies, birds, peasants, misfits, the rural poor folks have an abiding presence in my fictional and poetic world.  

 Kamarudeen Mustapha: You are both an accomplished poet and fiction writer; in which of these two genres do you feel more at home?
Abu Siddik: I am equally comfortable with both the genres. And I am also ambitious to write more critical books in future as well.

 Kamarudeen Mustapha: How old were you when you wrote your first fictional work? What is the impetus for it?
Abu Siddik: You can call me a 'late bloomer' to quote Dr. Subhas Chandra, our loved mentor who also writes for Setu. At thirty eight I write my first story “Sukra Oraon” based on an Adivasi’s life. That time I don’t know anything about publishing. I playfully send it to Muse India, and the fiction editor, Smita Vakkadavath praises it comparing to writing to legendary writer Mahaswata Devi. That is the beginning.

So far I never seriously think of creative writing. I wrote some academic articles and made a book on Faulkner out of my thesis. There are two specific reasons. First, I’m living 500 kms. away from home and family for nine years. So I have enough time to visit places and watch people, mainly Adivasi forest dwellers and peasants in scenic Dooars. The beauty of the land and the poverty of its people have an indelible impression on me. Second reason is the cold reception of my leadership by college authority after the completion NAAC accreditation with B+. First time the recognition comes because of our hard work and sacrifice for months after months. I am hurt. Thus I change my way and make myself busy with poetry and storytelling exercise. And I am happy. If I had not found enough time to watch people and if my college authority recognized my love and sacrifice, I am afraid, I could not have been what I am today.

Kamarudeen Mustapha:  A writer's environment makes him just as the writer makes his environment. How true is this assertion? Relate this to your role as a writer of fiction.
Abu Siddik: In my case I never make my environment. It is always the environment or external reality makes my fictional environment. Behind each story there is a concrete incident which I think unjust. From that sense of emotional injury I try to build a story. Yes, I take fancy and I add colour to that single ill action. As a result it ceases to be a propaganda piece and qualifies for a story.

Kamarudeen Mustapha:  As a writer and a teacher, do you see the two roles as complimentary of one another? Can writing be said to be a furtherance of a teacher's role in the society?
Abu Siddik : Yes. More I read and teach, more I learn. It invariably helps me to have more mastery over the themes, styles, nuances, flavours of multiple authors. Consequently, it lends edge to my creative faculty. For instance, when I read and teach Morrison’s Beloved, I come to realize what lies in store for me both in respect of themes, colours, and language application.  

Kamarudeen Mustapha: You write both in Bangla, your mother tongue and English. Which of these two languages do you feel more comfortable with as a writing medium and why?
Abu Siddik: In writing poetry I am more comfortable with English. But in case of prose I think I am equally qualified to write both in Bangla and English. 

In my mother tongue I have already written a book, Bangalr Musalman which is quite well received by the Bangla speaking readers in general.   

Kamarudeen Mustapha: What is your take on the claim that the themes as the driving force for fictional writing?
Abu Siddik: I somewhat agree with the claim. If there is no happening which burns me, how can I build a story? But I strive to make the theme implicit so that readers will be painfully anxious to find it themselves. Of course there are clues. The readers only need to coalesce them together into a unified whole, and thereby delve into the core of the story.

 Kamarudeen Mustapha:  Talking about writers influencing writers, which writer or writers have given your writing its present shape?

Abu Siddik: A host of my favourites such as Chekhov, Naipaul, Manto, Turgenev, Faulkner, Orwell, Hemingway, and Gibran give me strength to write the way I want to write. In Bangla it is Akhteruzzaman Elias.

Kamarudeen Mustapha: What to you is the major purpose of writing fiction - to entertain, to sermonize, to protest, to record the present for posterity or to teach moral?

Abu Siddik:  Simply put, my purpose as a fiction writer is to paint life in its myriad hues—with its love, fellow-feeling, hatred, anger, bitterness, hope, despair. Entertaining, sermonizing moralizing, or recording the present for posterity are not my primary aims. Yes, a wave of anger, mockery, irony and protest run through most of stories. I have a special liking for the portrayal of the peasants, the daily manual workers, the margins, the odds, the aged, the invalids, the widower and the widowed. My stories are sad, and protest against injustices, wrongs, ills, wounds, and inhumanity is my major purpose of writing. 

Setu, December 2019


  1. Abu Siddik, it was a treat reading your answers to the incisive questions. You have come up the hard way and that is an added feather in your cap. Thanks a lot for mentioning me in a glowing light, though on the scale of abilities, I am on a lower rung -- you write both fiction and poetry and you write in Bangla and English. I write only in English and only fiction. Paining life in its myriad hues is an adorable purpose. Wish you creatively prolific 2020.

  2. humbled by your kind words of love and warmth, sir. Happy that I get a chance to read some your fascinating tales. In need of your blessings!


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