A son talks about his fatherâ€™s dedication to creative works despite the latterâ€™s transferable job
Writing under the pseudonym of Ateen Prahar, poet and author Hara Narayan Dhar displays his sense of humour and rhyming in his book of poems titled ‘Abol Tabol Dot Com’.
Congratulations on the release of ‘Abol Tabol Dot Com’. These are written by Ateen Prahar. Who is behind this pseudonym Ateen Prahar? Please tell us about the person behind and your relation with him.
Ateen Prahar was a pseudonym used by my dad Lt. Hara Narayan Dhar. He was in government service and travelled all over India as part of his job and kept jotting down memoirs in his everlasting collection of diaries which resulted in six Bengali books getting published after he retired
The name is interesting. Why is the book named Abol Tabol Dot Com? Please tell us a little about this book. Does it have anything to do with Sukumar Roy's Abol Tabol?
One of my earliest memories of my father was his rhyming and sense of humor. He could go on matching sounds and pulling everyone’s legs around him constantly. Very first words that he probably taught me were homonym, homophone and homograph. Abol Tabol Dotcom was his way of acknowledging all his grandchildren, their time with him either in person or over phone and an almost literal collection of funny gibberish they would have for hours at a time. He was a big fan of Sukumar Roy and all contemporary Bengali authors, I won’t be surprised if he was inspired. He used to kid all the time on how our interactions are changing in the “dotcom” era which is probably why the name included “dotcom”.
The original book was in Bengali. When was it published and when were the poems written? What was the response to the original book?
The original book was published in September 2003. Like all his books, it was probably written over a period of five plus years cause his style was to keep jotting down things before giving it a form of a book. Initial reaction was our home phone number ringing constantly with adulations conveyed by his grandkids, friends, and magazines who used to publish his work on a regular basis, much to the chagrin of my mom who would have no chance to make her own phone calls .
What is the name of the original book? Who translated it into English? Who is the publisher of the English version of Abol Tabol Dot Com?
Name of the original book is the same as the English version. The translation in English and publishing of the English version is being taken care of by Power Publishers to whom I am much obliged.
The book has a beautiful illustrated format. Why did you decide to get it illustrated?
The illustrations were all done originally by my father himself. One of his many talents was able to draw and paint in an animated fashion. He himself decided which illustration would go with which poem.
You are based in the United States. How did you manage to get it published from India during the lockdown? How easy or difficult was the task or initiative you undertook?
It was one of my lucky days when I had casually reached out to Pinaki Ghosh from Power Publishers. I was simultaneously chatting with a couple of other publishing houses because I wanted a long term relationship to work with an organization that can help translate and publish 20+ books from my mom, dad and granddad. Pinaki was very impressive in our very initial engagement and his team have been simply wonderful in their quality of work done.
Your mother is also a writer. Please tell us about her literary works.
My mother Lt. Pratima Dhar was a writer as well. Her likings revolved around the Bengali classics from Rabindranath, Bankim Chandra, Sharat Chandra, Ashapurna Devi et al. She had very similar style of writing – collecting memoirs in her diaries as she travelled all over India with my dad for 40 long years and then started converting her work to 10 books of poetry and one novel after they settled down in Jamshedpur post my father’s retirement.
Are there more books from this writer? Do you plan to get them translated into English as well?
Yes, there are three more books from my father which I have planned to get translated into English and get them published, God willing.