Not always do we understand the presence of a friend, unlike how we feel the absence of one, who is by then proven a friend indeed.
As poet Kahlil Gibran wrote: “Your friend is your needs answered.” I see the value of friendship in our dependability, with trust and affection. Once we lose a loving friend for good, we have to live with the unbearable nostalgia.
Last week, we lost a friend named Md Al-Amin, a middle-aged journalist who passed away suddenly from cardiac arrest. The professional newsman, who had published many obituary news items, was not shown prominently on newspaper pages. No regrets – he was not a newsmaker.
The death of Al-Amin, who we used to call Khokon, has at the least shaken many of our humble friends. The soft-spoken, introverted character was loved so much that everyone in his circle, be it at university or office, felt his presence.
Alas, nobody close to him could have anticipated the inevitability of life.
Still, Al-Amin has left behind a lot of bright memories. There were innumerable messages of condolence and eulogies given. Friends rushed to console each other, ultimately reaching his family.
With tears and broken hearts, we had to say goodbye to our friend, the innocent boy who had come from the town of Gaibandha many years ago. His departure was shocking, not merely because he left us so early, but more importantly for his simplicity, his integrity, and the deeds which surrounded him.
I can’t imagine what else he could have been in his life. To us, he was an extraordinary friend who had never insulted a companion or a colleague. Isn’t his a great life blessed with great qualities?
I am paying tribute to that sojourner, not because he was a classmate, a buddy, a colleague, and a family friend, but because he deserves to be mentioned as someone ideal to be followed.
All our friends in Dhaka, elsewhere in the country, and in different parts of the world cried out in disbelief the moment each of them came to know of his demise. That was his destiny, that he would die at the age of 46. Many promising people have died at younger ages.
As human beings, near and dear ones wondered why and how it happened. A reckless life? No, he had a fairly disciplined lifestyle. Family failure? Not at all, as he was a good family man.
As a student, he was not very good at mathematics, but maintained a clean record in life’s accounting – nobody had any complaints of any kind.
It was perhaps the disease known as stress that silently started killing him over a period of time. It’s the stress which came out of his extreme level of sincerity and his devotion to his work.
Such stress, friends from other professions agree, is not a problem within journalism alone, rather, it is the system of competition which we have developed that burns out individuals these days.
Even accepting the realities, families and friends may raise questions about the sufferings of people like Al-Amin, through no fault of their own, but for heart ailments and diabetes, lifestyle diseases created by modern civilisation.
Many Al-Amins are sacrificing their lives for the unjust and humanly-impossible task of always being on their toes.
Yet, in such a life, Al-Amin, one of the representatives of the pro-democracy generation of the late 80s and 90s, showed his humility, romanticism, and his unspoken love for others.
He always worked with friends, beginning at The Daily Star when he was a student of International Relations at Dhaka University, as one of the pioneering figures in launching the country’s first online news portals, then joining and leaving the Daily Sun as part of a team before spending his last days at an online news portal maintaining and building more friendships.
During the remembrance meet-up at DUCSU Bhaban this weekend, his friends – classmates, both junior and senior, and colleagues – became nostalgic.
You can replace a leader, but if you lose a friend, the loss will always remain. In the absence of the selfless Al-Amin, his friends said his daughter Sandhi and son Olind are their children now.
During his university days, Al-Amin’s favourite song was Manna Dey’s “Coffee house-er sei adda ta aaj ar nei aaj ar nei / kothai hariye gelo shonali bikel gulo sei aaj ar nei” (our rendezvous at the coffee house is no more today / where have those golden afternoons gone?), written by Gouri Prasanna Majumdar.
Could he have ever known that he would be the flower which drops from the tree so fast? We will miss you, Khokon.