Rafi Hossain: Rafiqun Nabi sir, can you tell us how you established the character, Tokai?
Rafiqun Nabi: Before going straight to how Tokai was established. I want to talk about my journey. I grew up in a politically turbulent environment, and initially, began drawing cartoons based on politics, processions and riots. Back then, it was difficult to draw cartoons, so after the independence I thought maybe cartoon will not be valued by the mass. I took part in the democratic political movement of 1969, and during that time, Shahadat and I decided to gather political poems from various sources. We collected poems from poets, like Shamsur Rahman, Al Mahmud and so on. We also collected poems from scholars who never wrote poems before, and created a small magazine issue. We had few pages blank right at the end, so I contributed my writings in it. Working on off-set was very new to us, so we used carbon drawings to have some picture in it, and published it under the name, Unoshottorer Chhora. We started to receive positive feedbacks, and people were appreciating our work. Seeing all the love and support, Shahadat suggested doing something different, and my story as a cartoonist took its next step. I used to draw cartoon for an English weekly newspaper, called Express that had Zahir Raihan as the editor, and in another newspaper named Kalyan Forum. Zainul Abedin sir supported me a lot and used to help me get work. With his and Shahadat’s support, I delved into the world of a cartoonist. Later, I got the opportunity to study aboard, and learned wood art there. I practised it for a while. After the war, I came back to Bangladesh, and decided to not do cartoons anymore. I had been doing political cartoons all throughout the 1960s, and I didn’t want to continue it. Shahadat came to me, and wanted my help in making cartoon strips. Eventually, he managed to convince me, and I decided to create a character of a child in the shades of Sesame Street. I was inspired by the cartoon character, Charlie Brown and came up with the idea to create Tokai. A few weeks after Tokai came out, we started getting letters from people, talking about how they loved it.