I shall leave it to others to assess the loss to the nation, from the passing away of such a giant as National Professor Anisuzzaman. That in fact may be the most daunting task at hand, as we come to contemplate his unparalleled contribution in giving meaning, in shaping, and even, as only one as accomplished as him could, defining what it meant to be Bangladeshi. It is likely to beseech us for generations, for aeons, almost as long as the sheer weight of the man’s achievements made him hover over the nation’s conscience, for here was a man who in stature as well as behaviour, very clearly brooked no equal.
But that I shall leave that to others. What I instead find myself overwhelmed by on the occasion of his passing, is the gift he bore me throughout my 55 years of knowing him: some of the most beautiful memories that this life has had to offer. Of those days in my father’s apartment in the DU campus as the movement raged for independence, in the company of men like Anisuzzaman and Munier Chowdhury. The fatherly affection in which he held me through all the years and all the ways we travelled, that after my own father’s passing in 1992 worked to lessen the pain. It was only fitting that he had moved into our old apartment on Fuller Road after my father retired and moved out.
He remained a constant source of love and inspiration later when I taught at the Depart of Journalism and Mass Communication at DU, and it was the highest honour for me when he agreed to write the foreword for my book on Bangabandhu, the halo that seemed to separate him from the rest still undimmed, his preeminence still untouched, by what should have been five decades’ worth of wear and tear. When he attended dinners at my residence, I would still be in awe of him. And swim in his affection. We talked about a possible book on Tagore’s Natir Puja, to which he would contribute his unmatchable pen. Alas, it wasn’t to be…
All I am left with, are the many memories, the many moments, fleeting yet overpowering, as I remember his ever-smiling face. Today, it’s as if they carry the weight of an ocean. Even as he bore the nation’s conscience, it all rested so easily on his shoulders.
(Enayetullah Khan is the Editor-in-Chief of UNB and Dhaka Courier. This article was first published in Dhaka Courier)