Our friend Wasi Ahmed called me to ask if we knew that Hasan Ferdous had been awarded the Bangla Academy Award for expatriate writers. It’s called the Syed Waliullah Award , after expatriate luminary and legendary fiction master of Bangla literature. Mozaffer Hossain and Pias Majid of the Bangla academy did so. Finally, Pias gave me the media link which was recovered by Quarratul ain Tehmina Miti, once our Dhaka Courier colleague and it was Facebook official.
A Dhaka College and Dhaka Courier veteran had been nationally recognized for his work.
It began many years ago in 1969 when a bunch of young men fresh out of school entered Dhaka College and began to help shape the intellectual contours of Bangladesh. Most belonged to the world of studies, literary and cultural activism that mixed with politics too. They were loyal to different political streams but all were close friends, a scenario almost impossible to imagine now.
Robiul Alam Muktadir is a sitting MP of the Awami League, Mesbahuddin Hashemi was another activist now an academic. Shahdeen Malik is an academic, lawyer and leader of Bangladesh’s civil society movement. Haider Ali Khan is a Distinguished Professor at Denver University, USA. There are many others and all were class friends.
One name that shines bright but is no longer with us is that of Khan Md. Farabi. None combined his life with all the elements that I mentioned better than him. He left very early, stolen by cancer in the early 70s. But whatever he achieved is greater than what many do in a lifetime.
The Purbo Patro Group
Literature was a pull for many and it formed a sub-group within the Dhaka College boys. Although barely past school, we were extremely well read and very intellectually ambitious. Having done the first public exam rather well, we were confident, possibly over-confident and maybe a touch arrogant which after all these years deserves to be forgiven. After all we were far too young, high achievers and re-confirming our abilities regularly. We didn’t agree with the views and words of our seniors and we wanted to tell the world what we thought. To be honest that’s what we are still doing after all these years.
Purbo Patro, a little magazine was born to push this aspiration and was led by Hasan Ferdous, Sadi to his friends. Around that grew a group which was ready to take on any idea or thought. Of those who were part of the gig, some close, some supportive and some wished us well. Monzurul Haque, journalist, now based in Japan, late Farabi, late Towfique Khan Majlish, poet Daud Haider, now in Germany in exile, one of Bangladesh’s leading writer Wasi Ahmed were part of the team. Two fellow travellers are still on with us in every part of life. One is S.A J, Rizvi (Shahinshah) and another is Enayetullah Khan of Dhaka Courier and UNB.
We made a name very quickly and were read by all that mattered. The big names had soon heard of us because we were “beyadobs” and such a lot is always noticed. But we were also bright and our writing carried depth unusual for our age and level of education.
The Purbo Patro adventure continued till late 1972 when the team leader Hasan Ferdous left to study in the Soviet Union. Soon Sahahdeen and Monzu also left. We drifted into different departments in the Dhaka University and though Purbo Patra continued for a while it fell silent as I became involved with other adventures.
The Dhaka Courier Group
Hasan Ferdous returned from SU in the late 70s to a world hostile to SU degrees. Employment was not easy to find and he began to do free lancing media work. Soon he had become a well known columnist and was also managing a weekly Sunday Star, owned and edited by Mohiuddin Ahmed bhai of UPL. I too joined him there till its final days.
Our next stint was a monthly called “Bangladesh Today” which during its short phase became a very prestigious publication both high grade in content and design. It was at this point that Enayetullah Khan came forward and floated the idea of Dhaka Courier. And soon the three of us were planning and taking it on in 1984. This is 2021 and it’s still going strong, one of the most respected brands in town.
This is a quick and short journey on our partnerships that has formed over the years. I called Enayet and Rizvi to share the news and Enayet said the best thing I could hear. “Courier is the place for friends to gather.” All the names I have mentioned write here and so do others like Kayes Ahmed, Sadi’s and our close friend from Dhaka University, now in the US.
Sadi had around early 80s joined the UN and then left for the US finishing a full career with retirement from the UN. His media work never stopped. But he is now involved with Prothom Alo, Dhaka Courier and expat media in the US very actively. Like so many of us, his livelihood may come from many other sources but a part of his heart will always belong to media particularly Dhaka Courier. On behalf of every one of his friends and colleagues, congratulations and best wishes.
The entire team at Dhaka Courier would like to extend its congratulations to Hasan Ferdous for being awarded the Syed Waliullah award.