Sunday, July 21, 2024

My brother Khaled

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Bangabandhus birthplace Tungipara is now thronged by people every day But once there was nothing but a small canal to get there

Many people will have read about Patgati Station in Bangabandhu’s autobiography. Bangabandhu’s birthplace Tungipara is now thronged by people every day. But once there was nothing but a small canal to get there. At that time, people from the surrounding area used the jute market to travel. As far as I can remember there was once a sweet shop, a tailor shop, some grocers and lungi cloth shops and a doctor’s office. At that time there was no main road in South Bengal, everyone had to travel by steamer launch.

That’s why ‘Patgati Launch Station’ was specially known on the border of Faridpur, Khulna. My elder uncle (father’s cousin) Sheikh Abdul Malek was known to all of the mentioned people in Patgati and its neighboring village Gemadanga. The thing was that, when someone was seen waiting with a holder or a suitcase at the launch ghat, the question was asked, “Oh, you are going to Miya Kohan”? If the answer was ‘Dhaka’ then the next word would be ‘Give my regards to Malek Bhaijaan’. This means that whoever came to Dhaka from our region, their destination would undoubtedly be Sheikh Abdul Malek’s house located on Nandlal Dutta Lane in Dhaka. I have not only heard, but also seen with my own eyes that this house was the first residence of many people when they came to Dhaka for study, treatment, employment etc.

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So did my father. Malek used to stay at his uncle’s house in Kolkata and Dhaka. Sheikh Abdul Malek was not only my father’s elder brother, he was my father’s guardian. After getting married, he went to this cousin’s house with his mother. My uncle’s elder daughter (Manu Apa) and my mother grew up together as friends. Malek Kaka’s younger brother Sheikh Abdul Mannan used to go to language movement processions from this house. Later, sitting in London, he worked as one of the organizers of the Liberation War. Sheikh Abdul Mannan was a very close friend of Justice Abu Saeed Chowdhury. In my recently published novel ‘Mr President’, Sheikh Abdul Mannan covers a large part.

All the children of Malek Kaka have attained heights in education and intelligence. His younger son Babu is close to retirement after finishing his government job. He has served as High Commissioner in various countries and is moving to a new country in a few days. Another daughter is a doctor, the younger daughter has a PhD in international languages from Russia. The elder daughter has done MA in Bengal from Dhaka University. In other words, Uncle Malek did not just sit around helping others to succeed, he was also very careful with his own son and daughter.

Today, I want to write something about Malek Kaka’s elder son Khaled whom we call Khalid. Two days ago (September 14) Khalid died in Austin, Texas, USA. He was diagnosed with cancer but never told anyone outside his family. He has fought himself for a long time. He was taken to the hospital three to four days ago when his condition was deteriorating and his ability to speak was fading. Immediately, Khalid’s younger sister Lovely moved from Toronto to Austin.

Realizing the situation, Khalid decided to return home. He breathed his last shortly after being brought home by ambulance. Khalid now has close relatives with his wife, two sons and a daughter. His funeral was held yesterday in a mosque in Austin, Texas. Arrangements are being made to take him to Dhaka in Khalid’s last wish. It may take some time.
I remember many childhood memories. Thought we three close cousins Khalid, Mahbub (now living in Australia) and I would spend some time together in old age. There are so many events in our past that I could spend months on. But that thread has been cut now, so I have been sitting with sadness for three days.

One of Khalid’s students is a special face on the torrent, his name is also Khaled, he made a big post on Facebook with special thanks. A very decent person, Khaled has written many things about his sir, most of which are unknown to many of us. Once I heard that Khalid got first class in honors. We thought it might be him. Again I heard that studies are not so focused, as happily passed the exam and got first class in the MA exam. Another cousin of mine, Mahabub, probably got first class, second or third from the same department.

After that, Khalid got the position of a teacher in the Geology Department of Dhaka University, so Mahbub joined the government job with BCS. Later, Khalid came to Texas and completed his PhD and post-doctorate from Mississippi State University and became involved in international standard research. He also taught at several universities in America. When he was a student of Dhaka University, Khalid also caught the attention of many by participating in televised debates from Shahidullah Hall. But we are the people of the house then Khalid was younger, he used to call me Dada. Again I was very bad as a student. I saved my life by coming out of Dhaka University like Tennetun. Did I care so much about Khalid’s success? Not at all, Mahbub and Khalid used to have more fun sitting on the roof playing cards.

Besides, I have never heard Ph.D. or Dr. from his mouth. After he came to America, I called him once and asked him, what are you doing, he said, what else should I do, I am changing the baby’s diaper. I will go to class later. I said whether to write in the newspaper, the Bengali teacher of the American university is now changing diapers. He laughed and said and wrote that Patil also knows how to massage. Khalid’s life vow was not to boast of what others don’t have. Be it money, education, or social status.

Khalid was a believer in the belief that the best life is the normal life without showing off the glitter. His biggest identity is that he is the son of Sheikh Abdul Malek, whose father’s name people used to say ‘Greetings to Malek Bhaijan’ and whom Bangabandhu used to address as ‘Malek Bhaijan’. Khalid’s greatest achievement was that he saw nothing wrong with riding his bicycle from Mohammadpur to teach at the university. Khalid, always considered students as friends. They used to play various games starting from basketball. Hilarious jokes were his everyday expression. As we say, good people are leaving one by one. I can swear that Khalid fits the definition of a good person. Khalid, not infatuated with expensive or high brand names, the best thing Khalid has taught him is that you can conquer the world with a smile. Your smile is the most expensive brand in the world.

I am grateful to Khalid for the details of life philosophy that I have learned from him. Hopefully Khalid is still doing well in Him Ghar and will continue to do well.

Scarborough, Canada

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