The Symphony of our Times
Searching a job for father
My wife Sufia and our sons Nipu and Topu constituted a part of our large joint family. My parents, especially my mother Rezia Rahman liked the simple and modest ways of Sufia and they got on very well together. Father B. M. Rahman too had great affection for her. As already mentioned I took only a part of the responsibility of our joint family. When crisis seemed to be imminent as father was getting ready to retire early from his government job. I decided to share the financial implication of these events with Sufia.
It was something I never used to do earlier as I handed over my earnings to my mother. In fact, she advised me to give a part of my income to Sufia. I asked Sufia if she could be able to stand the strain of reduced overall income of the family in the coming days. She was composed and smiled saying, "I know, Allah will help and you together with others will be able to cross the rough waters safety". I was delighted and relieved.
Life, however, demands exacting efforts to meet and overcome the challenges. I continued my teaching in the University, editing the 'Concept' and 'Mousum', writings for the dailies and journals and appearing at TV programmes occasionally. At the same time I had to think of a practical strategy to ensure another respectable job for father. I sought the advice and counsel of elder friends and colleagues including noted labour leader Shah Abdul Halim, rising entrepreneurs and publishers Mosharraf Hossain (Mosharraf bhai) and his indivisible partner and friend Zakiuddin Ahmed (Zaki bhai).
After long hours of thought and mutual consultation, especially Shah Abdul Halim bhai chalked out a possible way forward. They had good relationship with high Bengali government officials, especially CSPs such as S M Shafiul Azam. They enjoyed his encouragement and support from the time he was the Chief Controller of Export and Import of the Central Government. He liked their youthful spirit of enterprise and gave them all possible support in the publication of 'Concept'.
Halim bhai said, "Mr. Shafiul Azam is now the Chairman of East Pakistan Industrial Development Corporation (EPIDC). He knows us and also likes Shelley's writings very much. In fact, whenever his articles appears in the Observer Mr. Azam sends transport from the Corporation to get Shelley to see him at his office." This was true Mr. Shafiul Azam one of the brightest Bengali CSP officers was very sensitive to the issues of rightful share of East Pakistan in those days. He worked quietly and strongly to fight with the West Pakistani bureaucracy to secure the just share of East Pakistan. That's why whenever he saw my writings articulating East-West disparity he used to call and encourage me.
Halim bhai said, "let us all go to Mr. Shafiul Azam and seek a job for uncle (my father). He is still young enough to be employed on contract. Halim bhai's suggestion inspired us and we all four went to Mr. Shafiul Azam. Halim bhai related my woes and the financial danger facing our joint family if father could not be provided with a regular income". The dynamic and highly competent officer Mr. Azam was reserved and quiet. He listened patiently and said, "Let me see what can be done".
We returned home with some hope but did not know if fortune would smile on us. A few month later, good news came. Mr. Shafiul Azam was able to ensure a job of Senior Development Officer on contract in EPIDC for father. We were happy and a little more sure of our joint future.
Finding a New Residence: After retiring from EPADC father had to leave the rented house in 44/21 Azimpur Road. We had to look for an alternative residence that would accommodate our large joint family. An immediate solution was available as there was a vacant flat of the University for Lecturers. I immediately activated childhood friend Jahangir Mohammad Jashim, whose father Mr. Dabiruddin Ahmed was still the Chief Engineer of the Dhaka University. The connection worked and I was soon allotted a spacious flat at 28F Savage Road near the Jagannath Hall.
According to the culture and style of life of those times the apartment was large enough to accommodate us all. The only extra measure I had to take was to build two safety barriers of wood and net to cover the two wide verandas. This was done to ensure that my four years son Nipu and two and half years old son Topu were not at the risk of falling down from the veranda as the apartment was on the second floor.
We did not move to the new flat until the end of 1966. But the knowledge of father's new job and the assurance of an alternative residence as long as my job in the University was intact, provided us all with hope and delight.
Dr Mizanur Rahman Shelley, founder Chairman of Centre for Development Research (CDRB), and former technocrat Cabinet Minister of Bangladesh, died on August 12, 2019. He contributed his writeups to the Daily Observer which are being published regularly as "The Symphony of Our Times".