“Words have wings” is an imagined expression for the lost innocence deeply rooted in my culture of silence and misrepresentation. It is part of a journey probing my identity through art. As an immigrant in a culture that is diametrically opposite to my birth, I was able to imbibe different strands of free expressions that ultimately formed the bedrock of all my artistic efforts. The Language movement of 1952 to reinstate Bangla in our sociopolitical life was the first milestone in our development as an independent nation. We became conscious that the religion on which British Raj created our country and what we desperately wanted before 1947 failed to define us. We found a voice of our own and a sign of courage that once changed our destiny.

As we approached the victory at the end of the violent and bloody liberation war of 1971, our country was shocked to learn that there was the systematic killing of intelligentsia across Bangladesh to deprive its talents who could help significantly in rebuilding our devastated country. We never recovered from this loss. Although we were able to articulate ourselves in the past while claiming our right to express and self-determination. Now, as if some internal fabric of the society has been fractured and cynicism overwhelms our confidence. In this climate of uncertainty, freedom of expression is the first victim. Ironically, a country that fought for its own Language and Freedom from tyrannical oppression reversed its position to sanitize its citizens’ opinion and subvert its own democracy.

As an artist, my language is integral to my identity. It is an extraordinary language of beauty and depth that evolved over millennia. We could recognize many social critics and skeptics whose words are woven into our culture’s long, rich, often-endangered tradition of dissent. They shaped my ideology through their writing. The very practice of my art once began and extended from calligraphy. Rephrasing that concept of critical thinking and expression of unique individual identity is the undertow that links my entire creative endeavour.

Thus “Words Have Wings” is a reminder and manifesto to an anaesthetized culture.