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Memories of May

  • Published at 06:06 pm May 31st, 2017
  • Last updated at 12:11 pm June 1st, 2017
Memories of May

As I was going through the photos which are being organised by my colleague, I was surprised to see one whole file named “AN”: Asaduzzaman Noor MP. I opened it. It was a whole host of pictures of the reception for Noor Bhai when he took oath as honourable minister of culture.

What struck me were the smiles on faces of all the friends who attended. The smiles reflected the relationships between the two people, or the smile on the individuals face, just said something about the individual.

Faruq Bhai’s photos moved me deeply. “Former Foreign Secretary, Faruq Ahmed Choudhury, a top diplomat who oversaw the emergence of Bangladesh while in the foreign ministry, died yesterday at the age of 83.” From The Daily Star.

We could not come to terms with Faruq Bhai’s demise. We were not in Dhaka. Aly Zaker kept on saying: It’s no time to go, what was his age after all?

They would plan on evenings. Whenever they met lately, those plans would not materialise. Now it seems those plans were stuff that dreams are made of. With Faruq Bhai’s failing health, maybe he knew that they were just dreams, but what’s the harm in just dreaming?

He was such a pleasant personality, and it always reflected in the way he smiled. It seemed he was smiling even when he was not. As we age, I have noticed that, if we do not tip up the corner of our mouths, we look very miserable. I believe a person like Faruq Bhai was such a sociable and a nice man that he earned “that certain smile.”

One that just stayed with him all the time. I do wish he is smiling the same way from heaven above and showering his compatriots, family, and friends with blessings in the way he always did.

As we are not getting any younger, the passing away of people who led us strikes us harder. Syed Shamsul Haq, no more. It is hard to believe. So many verses of plays come to mind, so many of them talk about death itself.

As we are not getting any younger, the passing away of people who led us strikes us harder. Syed Shamsul Haq, no more. It is hard to believe

To the earth returns the earthy man

From that earth, the man is born once more

He returns to earth, the earth remains

From this earth, my son rises in upright revolt.

The other day I had the good fortune to be on the same stage in Sylhet with Syed Abdullah Khaled, the sculptor of Aparajeyo Bangla. We performers who come before the camera are so used to becoming famous within the shortest of time.

Then also we, like meteors, come down in a flash and are reduced to ashes on earth. Khaled Bhai’s Aparajeyo Bangla will continue to stand solidly in front of Dhaka University and bear his name for ages to come.

In the last week of March, we were in Sylhet and Honourable Minister of Finance Abul Maal Abdul Muhith (who was there as the chief guest) lovingly commented: “How suddenly Khaled has aged.”

And this May he is no more

The last few days have been ominous. When I saw Shyamal Kanti Bhakta being taken to jail, I cried inside. Still, with his head held high, he is escorted into the prison.

Can we smile anymore, or laugh, or celebrate? Life will go on, and we will forget the inhumanity of our society; forget about people in power who laugh away their crimes and the innocent bear the brunt of ignominy.

I would like to protest by holding my ears, standing up and sitting down, and punish myself for being a part of the heartless society. This act of protesting the corporal punishment of Shyamal Kanti Bhakta went viral when he was made to go through the shame.

He was reinstated and the managing committee dissolved. Even then nothing changed to halt the ignominy of the headmaster. Now he is in jail on the grounds of corruption.

I salute the headmaster for being able to hold his head high while he walks through the prison gate. It seems, here in Bangladesh, the space to smile and celebrate is shrinking. To hold our heads high, or remain robust in our stance as free-thinking people of a secular nation, is becoming blurred and vague by the day.

It is sad. The month of May 2017 was a sad month.

Sara Zaker is the Group Managing Director, Asiatic 360.