Sulekha Selam – a numbered edition ink was unveiled to pay homage to the Martyrs on 21st February, “Bhasha Dibosh” (Language Day). Only 21 bottles of the blood red ink have been made to commemorate the supreme sacrifice for the recognition of the Bengali language, which has since been recognised by the United Nations and is revered around the world as the International Mother Language Day.
On this day, 21st February, 1952, Government forces had opened fire on protesting students, killing among many others Abdus Salam, Rafiq Uddin Ahmed, Abul Barkat and Abdul Jabbar in Dhaka, Bangladesh (then East Pakistan). In a similar story drenched in blood, fifteen Bengalis laid down their lives demanding the recognition of their mother tongue near the Silchar Railway Station in Assam, India, when they were fired upon by the Assam Police on 19th May, 1961. Such life sacrifices were also made in Assam on 17th August, 1972; in 1985 and 1986.
Bengali, incidentally, is the fifth most-spoken native language and the seventh most spoken language by total number of speakers in the world. It is the most widely spoken language in Bangladesh and the second among the twenty-two scheduled languages of India.
“We wanted to pay our humble tributes to those who have given their all for our Mother tongue” said Kaushik Maitra, the Managing Director of Sulekha. “Credit must also be given to Amain Babu of Bangladesh, who has been actively involved in the process of creation since the very inception whose enthusiasm about all things Bengali is infectious. The Sulekha Selam ink line has been conceived and designed by Suvobrata Ganguly.”
The exclusively made blood red ink is housed in standard 60 ml Sulekha glass bottles and are packaged in white boxes that come with a blood splattered mnemonic “21” accompanied by the encomium “Sulekha Selam”. On both sides of the packet, the names of the Dhaka and Assam martyrs have been printed, which elevates the bottles to the level of a cenotaph, in honour of the selfless souls who sacrificed their all for the Mother tongue.
The Sulekha Selam line is of significance to the entity which itself was born during India’s freedom struggle as a protest against the foreign yoke, to fill the pens of freedom fighters like Mahatma Gandhi who were tirelessly wielding their pens against the Raj. Sulekha was then the very essence of Swadeshi enterprise and continues to wage a relentless battle against various ills. It has now trained its pens against environmental degradation and is seeking to arm the young with the sustainable option of fountain pen and inks.
“We are moved by Sulekha’s gesture” said Amain Babu, who is compiling the history of fountain pen and inks of the subcontinent and is the moving spirit behind the popular movement called Fountain Pen Culture, in Bangladesh. “I do not know of any other instance where Martyrs for the Mother Tongue have been honoured in such a manner and we are indeed proud to be a part of this wonderful initiative. I am sure that the move will be welcomed by language lovers in all parts of the world with the appreciation it deserves and that we will be able to set an example before our young, inspiring them to take up the fountain pen, to not bow before evil and to honour those who have laid down their lives for the sake of everything that we hold dear”.
Fountain Pen Culture is conducting various competitions whose winners will be honoured with the Sulekha Selam inks along with fountain Pens from Click. According to reports received till date, the response has been overwhelming.
“Sulekha is much more than a brand” said Kaushik Maitra. “Sulekha is an emotion. Sulekha is a legacy. Sulekha is the cross that we bear. We are aware of the huge responsibility that has been bestowed upon us by our forefathers and we are taking a number of initiatives not only to ensure that the most sparkling thoughts are transferred to paper in a sustainable, eco-friendly manner, but also to live up to the dreams that had fired the imagination of a generation who had dreamt of a proud, self-reliant people espousing values that are exemplary”. Towards this end, Sulekha has taken a number of initiatives which we will report about in the fullness of time.
To know more about Fountain Pen Culture: https://www.facebook.com/groups/fountainpenculture