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     Volume 2 Issue 26 | July 8 , 2007|


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Dhaka University's Fairy Tale Birthday and Voices of its Alumni

Dr. Faheem Hasan Shahed & Feeda Hasan Shahed

Scene 1: Act One
A crowded TSC auditorium ; 10.00 p.m.
Prof. S. M. A. Faiz, the Vice Chancellor, declared the grand opening of the 86th Anniversary in presence of former vice chancellors of DU. A grand rally, participated by Vice chancellors along with other teachers, students and alumni of the university, roamed all over the campus area to symbolize the jubiliation of this event.

Prof. Asif Nazrul of Law department, the prime minister of the house, stands up and says dramatically: '…Honorable Speaker, in our times we never did techno-love like our students, the sms-crazy, messenger-dependent kids of today. What we did was soulful love; we felt deeply for our beloveds, and they came to us like telepathy.'

'Oh God save me…what a spiritual romanticism!' someone heckled from the audience.

Fahima Taslim Tania of Rokeya Hall, the deputy leader of the opposition, cries out from her heart: 'Being our teachers, how much time have you given us for romance? Rather it is us who have successfully preserved our romantic lives besides doing assignments, giving exams and presentations etc…we should be given credit for that!'

Dr. Mahbuba Nasreen of Sociology department, the education minister, passionately remarks: 'We never had photocopy, sms, computer in our times. We used to spend time with our lovers and right before the class as we saw them off, we used to say, “Oh bird! I'm dying in pain!” And here you guys are laughably saying that you don't get time!'

Tania hits back: 'Is it a crime to love technology?'
Member of the parliament Nazmuzzaman Bhuian, the young handsome teacher of Law, raises a point of order: How many times have you been successful in love by loving technology?'

Roaring laughter and wild clapping continues as the debate progresses.

Scene 1: Act Two
An overcrowded TSC auditorium ; 1.05 p.m.

The debate reaches its peak.

Nazmuzzaman Bhuian hurls his attack: We never said we teachers are the best. We said, we are the best students of our time. You all have made wrong interpretations of our words!

Arif Al-Mamun, ex-President of Dhaka University Debating Society and Leader of Opposition raises his point of order: If all your contribution in your time can become a part of history, then why our contribution in this 2007 cannot be not a part of the same history!

Nazmuzzaman Bhuian: you were not students during the 1940 to 1990 decades, and so you cannot by any means become the best ones in history. You have been defeated by time. Rather let me ask you, taking advantage of the nightlong free talk time and consequently coming to the classes late next day what you regard as 'best student-ship', right?

Ziaul Haque Sheikh, GS of DUDS and member of Opposition, stands up: We talk about our assignments, exams over mobile. Then we come to the classes and give our exams regularly. Look at our results…we are getting more First classes than your time.

Prof. Asif Nazrul: Point of information Speaker! Why are investigation committees formed regarding those First classes?

Zia: It is you who gave us those First classes…so whose failure is this? Questions are being raised on the First classes given by you, teachers!

Roaring laughter and wild clapping further continues as the debate progresses.

Scene 1: Act Three
An overcrowded TSC complex ; 1.20 p.m.

Vice Chancellor Prof. S. M. A. Faiz is on the stage. He says at one point: I am thrilled to know that today's student community studies all night over telephone and all day in the class. I should be extremely happy that Dhaka University is on the verge of talent-explosion!

But in fact I am not because these talented ones in their later life will sleep 24 hours!

Everyone cheers in ecstasy as he continues his ending speech.

Dear readers, these were some of the tit-bits from the fascinatingly entertaining student-teacher debate on the topic, 'We are the best students in our time' held at the TSC auditorium on the Dhaka University Day. The debate received a classical touch by the wonderful moderator-ship of Prof. Syed Manzoorul Islam of English department who inserted a lot of subtle wits between the gaps.

After a long time, DU community witnessed a gem of a debatea battle of words applied to its fullest perfection. Those who could not be there physically had the chance to watch it live on Boishakhi TV, and we're sure they would agree with what we are saying.

Scene 2: Act One
A crowded DU Playground ; 3 p.m.

A football match is underway between the VC Eleven and the Alumni Eleven. At one point someone shouts from the gallery, 'Oh God…Alumni Eleven is playing with 15 players against our eleven!' Readily, VC Eleven sends four more onto the ground to make it 15 too!

Scene 2: Act Two
An overcrowded DU Playground ; 3.20 p.m.

The one-sided match is going on. Mr. Rakibuddin Ahmed, General Secretary of the Alumni Association, leaves the field exhausted and pained by muscle cramp. He is taking medical treatment sitting beside the Vice Chancellor. One of the students ask him: 'Uncle, what have you done! You should have been there to help your side score…'

Rakib uncle's agony with the muscle cramp continues, but he manages to say: 'Son! At this age of 68, I dared to land on the field and gave two kicks on the heap of the ball! Isn't that well enough? Huh? At least I played better than Dewan…'

Dewan? Who is he by the way? Ah there he is, Mr. Dewan Rashedul Hasan, Treasurer of Alumni Association, limping in wild pain due to muscle pull after he tried to go for a side volley. Now he is standing like a statue in the middle of the ground as some volunteers help him on his way to the sideline.

Scene 2: Act Three
An overcrowded DU Playground ; 3.40 p.m.

VC Eleven gets a penalty. Prof. Asif Nazrul is about to take the shot. Tensed and excited, everyone waits to cheer. He runs 20 feet and kicks the ball! Instead of a wild celebration, a pin-drop silence of disbelief engulfs the ground. The ball is straight into the hands of the 60-year goalkeeper of Alumni Eleven!

However at last, VC Eleven returns home triumphant netting only 2 goals despite uncountable attacks, thanks to the gallant efforts by the aged goalkeeper of Alumni Eleven. On the other hand, the young goalkeeper of VC Eleven was seeing lamenting as he got not a single ball to test his skills!

The much awaited birthday celebration of the University of Dhaka eventually occurred amid the desired grandeur. 'Desired' because that's what was supposed to be. For a long time, people totally forgot the aesthetic life of Dhaka University. Our corrupt socio-political system, ably assisted by the power-coercive forces in and out of the campus, hardly allowed Dhaka University to maintain its stature as a prime university. Under their evil spell, politicization in Dhaka University became a fine art.

Therefore, Dhaka University was lifeless. Ask a student of Masters, 'When did you have the last DUCSU election?' No idea. Blank look is what you get. Can you blame him? No way! How is he going to know that 18 years have passed after that last election? 18 years ago he was just a school kid, wasn't he?

This 1st of July thus reminded lots of people that Dhaka University hasn't died anyway. It was made to live senseless. It cannot die. It should not. It is the institution which has laid the foundation of our national identity way back in 1947 when Mohammad Ali Jinnah got the answer to his arrogance. It is the institution which has constantly upheld the spirit of our socio-cultural existence whenever aggression tried to thwart our advancement. It is the institution which produced warriors who fought and led all the crucial pro-people movements. It is the institution that created 1952, 1969, 1971, and 1990. It is the institution that created leadership in our social, educational, cultural and political levels.

In this context, the birthday celebrations came as an opportunity to revive the old spirits of the campus. Halls had special menus and were made open for the alumni to visit, small-but-interesting competitions were held in different capacities,

Like a long lost friend, the joyful exhibition of programs made all feel the aesthetic fervor of Dhaka University.

Alumni Voices
The University of Dhaka, for every logical reason, produced the maximum alumni among all universities out of whom a substantial number have rendered their services to the nation in diverse capacities. We met some of them and were delighted to see how they still feel the emotions and aspirations regarding their loved alma mater.

'Dhaka University has built my intellectual, social and aesthetic self.'

Prof. Serajul Islam Chowdhury
Educationist and author, widely revered for his ideological honesty and inexhaustible commitment to social causes.

'I had my association with Dhaka University before starting my studentship there,' sir said. Pausing a bit, he continued, 'I'm talking about 1952, and the day was 21 February. Though my Intermediate exam was knocking at the door, I came to the old campus of the Dhaka University that day due to the urge of my conscience. Then this tear gas, dhawa and counter-dhawa…and my splashing onto the nearby pond to save my swollen eyes. My first encounter with Dhaka University was thus a 'tearful' one!'

Sir then narrated how he and Dhaka University had been like the same soul since his childhood. 'The time when I was growing up is still nostalgic to me due to two factors: my mornings that I spent in my school beside the Buriganga, and the afternoons that I spent at Ramna which had the Dhaka University campus. I entered Dhaka University as a student in 1952 after the Language Movement, I was already accustomed to the campus environment…nothing was new to me…every corner of the campus appeared to me as my childhood friend.'

Prof. Chowdhury spontaneously carried on, 'From 1952 to 2002, I had spent 50 years at a stretch as a student and a teacher. And I am intensely indebted to my alma mater due to the fact that it framed three lives of mine: my intellectual life, my social life, and my aesthetic life. This framing wouldn't have been possible without Dhaka University. Precisely, it gave me everything to compete myself as a human being.'

What made him become a teacher? 'Well, two things. One is the library that had been a very fascinating place for me during my student life. I somehow had a feeling that I would be able to utilize this library to my fullest satisfaction only if I became a teacher. The other is the understanding that my teaching job in Dhaka University would be a non-transferable one. My fate was to become an inextricable part of this university, and I followed my fate. Till now, I cannot imagine myself as an isolated self from Dhaka University.'

But the overall standard has gone down. What does he think about it? 'Several inevitable reasons are there. Firstly, Dhaka University has grown huge unlike our time when it was an intimate campus and things were pretty easy to manage. Then importantly, most of the students belonged to the rising middle class for whom university education was necessary to shape their future in society. Plus, job was guaranteed in different fields. So the motivation to learn and think big was very strong. Secondly, a massive ideological decline has affected us since independence where patriotism, morality, values, sense of identity etc. have collapsed. Before independence, we had a common enemy and thus we were united for a greater cause. Now that the enemy is absent, things have gone astray everywhere. So the Dhaka University environment has also been subject to that chaos.'

However, Prof. Chowdhury appreciated the authorities for their efforts to observe this Dhaka University Day in its desired splendor. 'I await the golden Dhaka University days to return, may be in a different form,' he said with a breezy smile.

Read more next week


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