Thursday, June 13, 2024


Dhaka Tribune

My teacher Kazi Shahid Ahmed

Kazi Shahid Ahmed is the pioneer of modern journalism

Update : 29 Aug 2023, 08:56 PM

House 41, the residence of Gemcon Group Chairman Kazi Shahid Ahmed in Dhanmondi. I receive a call from the reception of the house. 

The voice from the other side: “Chairman Sir is on the call, he will talk to you.”

Sir called me innumerable times in this lifetime. Those were for different reasons, different topics. I apprehended the call to be the usual and started waiting for his voice.

Kazi Shahid Ahmed: “Russel, how are you?”

Me: “Yes Sir, with your blessings— I am doing fine. How are you?”

Kazi Shahid Ahmed: “I am doing better than you. Very well. Mind, health, everything is well.”

I was nervous. I thought he would discuss some new issue or the other... Either the manuscript of a new novel, or he would ask me to find out how much it would cost to get Ajker Kagoj out again!

Kazi Shahid Ahmed: “Greetings to you from the bottom of my heart. I am really happy for you. You have received the National Award for song writing. I feel  like I have received it!

The news of the award was two to three days old. Sir may have heard about it later. I was very happy.

Me: “Thank you very much, Sir. I got it because of your blessings.”

Then Sir started talking.

Kazi Shahid Ahmed: “Only blessings do not work, Russell. If someone does not have the talent, even if the Imam of Makkah prays for him, it will not work. I have seen you grow up. Intelligence, the ability to use intelligence has brought you here! Do you remember, you once asked a question in Ajker Kagoj?”

Me: “What question, Sir?”

Kazi Shahid Ahmed: “I still remember clearly. You asked whether one could pay his bills with a salary of Tk12,000.”

Although I did not remember when I had asked this question, it seemed it could have been around 1999. Even though I didn't remember, I said, “Yes sir.”

Kazi Shahid Ahmed: “Do you remember what my answer was?”

Now I was in great danger. I really did not remember anything!

Me: “I don't remember, Sir! What was your reply, Sir?”

Kazi Shahid Ahmed: “I said, it will not run (a family) now! One day you will get a salary with which you will be able to run not one, but two to four families! It wasn't just a joke. I meant it! How much do you get now?”

I kept silent thinking that it would be rude to talk to Sir about salary.

Kazi Shahid Ahmed: “I know how much you get paid. My heart fills with pride. I am proud of you. Nabil, Anis, Inam – everyone is happy for you. I am happier than them!”

I couldn't contain my emotions any longer. My eyes were wet. I did not let Sir feel my emotions. And he hung up after talking to me for a while.

My journalistic journey began with the Daily Janakantha as a contributor. After that I worked at weekly Deshchinta and Banglabazar Patrika. As Ajker Kagoj was coming out of the same group and my feature writing skills were good, I used to write there regularly. From there on, whenever there was an event related to Kazi Shahid Ahmed I was assigned to cover that event. Then one day Nabil Bhai (Kazi Nabil Ahmed) called me and asked me to work as a reporter at Ajker Kagoj

Had I not worked at Ajker Kagoj and had I not received the unconditional love of their family, achieving this position would have been impossible for me, I feel.

As I used to write lyrics, I had to go to different studios in the evening for work. But working as a journalist, leaving the office before 9pm almost every day was next to impossible. But I would get this impossible concession. Kazi Shahid Ahmed and Nabil Bhai made this possible. After submitting the report, I used to leave around 8pm almost every day. How many people get this chance?

However, complaints were raised. But Sir and Nabil Bhai did not pay much attention to those complaints as I used to file the reports on time. Songs were being released one after another. A single audio album was released. I was never reprimanded for 'skipping work' but rather was praised and encouraged. Today, both titles—a poet and a journalist shine next to my name because I made proper use of this sanctuary.

Kazi Shahid Ahmed is the pioneer of modern journalism. His published newspapers Khoborer Kagoj and Ajker Kagoj played a leading role in carrying out the spirit of free speech and the Liberation War at that time. Ajker Kagoj used to do bold and fearless journalism because its publisher himself was very brave and fearless. It is not possible for any media to publish such news unless the publishers and editors are brave. At least not in Bangladesh.

Kazi Shahid Ahmed has always created surprises. Newspapers, businesses or educational institutions—everything got a freshness through him.

This surprise for me is in another place. He taught us to be modern. I learned to compose Bengali on the computer in the nineties under his strict instruction. Maybe I wouldn’t have learned if a sudden announcement was not made by him that ‘no handwritten report will be accepted after 15 days from today’. Everyone had to compose and submit reports. I learned typing, to save my  job at that time.

Kazi Shahid Ahmed taught us how to live. What type of clothing should be worn in each environment. How to speak, what to eat— when and how often to eat. I don't know about others, how much they learned. But I learned a lot.

The morning meeting at Ajker Kagoj was the scope for me to learn at this institution. Hundreds of stories and behind the scene stories, many unknown histories—I used to grasp them all. I was always learning something new. While walking on the news floor, Sir used to share a story or two. I used to learn from there. Walking in the canteen and talking to him—I used to learn from there as well.

Today, I am the editor of Bangla Tribune, one of the best online news portals in the country because I have learned so much from Kazi Shahid Ahmed.

I am greatly indebted to him.

Sir, stay well on the other side.

Zulfiqer Russell is editor of Bangla Tribune

Timeline: Death of Kazi Shahid Ahmed
29 Aug 2023, 20:46
My teacher Kazi Shahid Ahmed
29 Aug 2023, 18:19
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