Kolkata: Eminent Bengali writer Buddhadeb Guha, author of many notable works such as `Madhukari’ (Honey Gatherer), has died. He was 85.
Guha died of post-COVID complications at a private hospital here at 11.25 p.m on Sunday after a massive cardiac arrest, family members said.
The writer, whose works of fiction reflected his closeness to nature and forests of Eastern India, had been hospitalised earlier this month after complaining of breathlessness and urinary infection, they said.
He had earlier contracted COVID-19 in April and was hospitalised for 33 days.
"Buddhadeb Guha is no more. He was blessed as to be one with the Divine on the night of Janmashtami (Lord Krishna’s birthday) 2021. Do join his family and friends in celebrating his life," his elder daughter Maleni B Guhaa said in a social media message.
Guha was predeceased by wife, eminent Rabindra Sangeet exponent Ritu Guha in 2001. He leaves behind two daughters.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee condoled the demise of Guha, describing him as one of the foremost writers in Bengali literature whose death will leave a void.
“Buddhadeb Guha will be remembered for ‘Koeler Kachhe’, ‘Kojagar’, ‘Ektu Usnotar Jonyo’, ‘Madhukari’, ‘Jangalmahal’, ‘Choroibeti’ and other books. He is the creator of two popular fictional characters in Bengali literature Ribhu and Rijuda," Banerjee said in a condolence message.
She offered her condolences to the bereaved family and his countless readers.
Born on June 29, 1936 in Kolkata, Guha had spent his childhood in Rangpur and Barisal districts of East Bengal (now Bangladesh). His childhood experiences and travels left a deep imprint on him, which were reflected in his works later on.
His novels and short stories have been highly acclaimed by critics, winning him fans across the sub-continent and several awards, including Ananda Purashkar in 1976, Shiroman Purashkar and Sharat Puraskar.
The writer’s important works besides `Madhukari’, include `Koeler Kachhe’ (Near the Koel river) and `Sobinoy Nibedon’ (Humble Offering).
An award-winning Bengali film 'Dictionary' was also made based on two of his works - `Baba Howa’ (Being a Father) and `Swami Howa’ (Being a Husband).
He was a popular children’s writer, too, creating the fictional character Rijuda, a hunter-turned-conservationist and his side-kick Rudra.
Rupa Majumdar, Editor of Nabakallol and Shuktara magazines and director of publishing house Dev Sahitya Kutir, whose magazine recently serialised Guha’s childhood memories in story form, said, “He was a colossus, a literary star… people used to come just to watch him when he would visit our stall at any book fair. His books, some of which we published, were all best-sellers.”
Sabitendranath Roy, author, publisher and a friend of Guha, said: “He was a great writer and good friend. We used to enjoy his `addas’ (conversations). Whenever we met, our chats always ended with him singing... he was god-gifted in many ways.”
Majumdar said it was the duty of the publishing world and his heirs to have Guha’s works translated into other languages including English “so that the world at large realises his genius, which is so well recognised in Bengali literature”.
A successful chartered accountant, Guha was also a noted classical singer and a proficient illustrator.