|Home | Issues | The Daily Star Home | Volume 5, Issue 26, Tuesday July 1, 2008|
Face to face with Professor Dr. Fakrul Alam
Dr. Fakrul Alam
Simple pleasures of life
The hushed corridors on the first floor of the good old Arts faculty building on a showery June morning looked laid back, enjoying the ongoing summer vacation. The person we were waiting for reached his door just on time, wittily reminding us that he wasn't late.
Dr. Fakrul Alam, an eminent Professor of Dhaka University, has written widely on literary matters and postcolonial issues. As one of the leading academics of the country, Professor Alam has earned widespread recognition for his works on South Asian and postcolonial writing. Among his publications are book-length studies of Daniel Defoe and Bharati Mukherjee. He is perhaps best known for his translation of Jibanananda Das, the great Bengali poet.
As a teacher, one magic of teaching that Professor Alam spots is the opportunity to come close to the younger people, full of energy and happiness. In his words, “Their happiness rubs off!” Perhaps one might think that such an involvement with students has actually earned him the recognition of an evergreen teacher as well! Cultural occasions like Pohela Boishakh with all its colours and enthusiasm of young students in the University campus enchants him and “it becomes a privilege to be close to them”.
Taking a glimpse back
Interestingly, Dr. Alam, now a successful professor, initially wanted to become a CSP under the Public Service Commission, a respectable job back in his times. However, destiny chose something else for him. As a student he had certain expectations from his teachers and now that he is a teacher himself he tries fulfilling those expectations through his own style of teaching. He mentions that “there are things I wish I could do better” but overall he is “quite happy” with academia.
Teaching for freedom and teacher-student relationship
When asked about his recommendations for those who want to take up teaching as a profession, he does not stop to think and says “teaching is not for everyone. “Young people should follow their hearts”, although he doesn't like the idea that his “bright students end up being posted at the corners of the country”. He firmly believes that bright pupils should come to teaching and he has a strong reason for that: “The brighter the teachers, the better the students of future generation are going to be. Also a university teacher's job is never done; s/he must be reading, writing and exploring all the time”.
As far as the current state of teacher-student relationship is concerned, Professor Alam has an upbeat view. Teaching for a long time at the University of Dhaka and for a considerable time at the East West University, he finds students' healthy respect for teachers as a good thing in this sort of a relationship. However, he urges “students should be more forthcoming and challenge the teachers. I wish classes would be more interactive.” He counsels that more presentations, discussions are required at the public universities, which are not happening at the right amount because of large classes.
Future of teaching and writing: it's changing
On upcoming writers, Professor Alam appeared to be reasonably optimistic. In his assessment he is not much familiar with young writers writing in Bangla and so does not want to comment on their works. However, he feels young writers in English have lots of ideas and enthusiasm since as a teacher he gets to see some of their works while giving suggestions or editing. He suggests that the young writers should “read a lot more, get to know more good works in literature and watch more good films.” He believes they have got the materials and now they need to work on the “form”. “Already we have begun to see signs of good young writers of English,” he proclaims.
A dedication to Tagore
Coming into close proximity with Professor Fakrul Alam we discovered a maker of a thousand minds; a teacher who also works consistently through a mechanism of osmosis, imbibing ideas and life into the dead cells of the society through its future generation. From this standpoint, a teacher is powerful indeed!
Past bainchi bushess haibabla thickets and jam and hijal forests
Its vigor once amazed the soul; where men won't tread only a river runs
Canopied by bat tree leaves bruised as I was; the river's afternoon smell
Have high hopes one day? But to find no relief anymore? Who came and said,
By Fatima Tuz Zahra
On The Cover
Lifestyle congratulates Munem Wasif on winning the F25 Award for his brilliant work on Old Dhaka, a project he has been involved in for five years. Wasif, who worked with Star Lifestyle from 2006-2007, and continues to contribute on a freelance basis, has been short-listed amongst the 30 emerging photographers by Photo District News, USA.
“If I have to work for it, then it's probably not meant to be,” my friend, Serena, cried out loud, in misery with her partner. This is the general notion people hold in their minds when it comes to trouble in love. We all dream of having a perfect romantic relationship, but one soon realizes that what Bollywood and fairy tales depict is only the idealised illusion of the human mind and romance is salvageable, if only one would take a half-step backwards.
I tried to make my friend understand…. “Certainly, you have been in and out of love several times during your early ages but now you are too tired of it. Maybe, you didn't put in the effort that a relationship needs or you were not mature enough to put in the effort or even understand the need of effort in a relationship.” People grow with time and experience and as the saying goes-“it's better to have been loved and lost rather than not being loved at all, falling in love is worth it! Loosing your loved one or the common term,” break-up “can be very painful indeed, but why are we even talking about a break up? If you are in a relationship, keep the word “break-up” far-far away from your mind and put in your best to work things out, only then, you can have your dream affair. Intentions matter; first put in your best and then leave the rest. People get frightened and often tend to walk away… or worry too much about a possibility of a future.
Sometimes, it's a good idea to put aside your pride and resolve your problem before it gets worse. You need to step back for love and this becomes easier when you trust one another. Trust is the basic requirement of any good relationship. A couple bond when they can rely on each other.
It would be important for Serena to rekindle the friendship between them and work relationships she had abandoned during the last several months when her affair issues had taken up the bulk of her time. She desperately needed to stay enjoyably busy and involved. Instead of worrying and complaining, enjoy the company of your friends and family. They needed some space of their own to develop and understand their feelings. Serena would soon feel the energy shift and come to some conclusions about her feelings for her guy. “Nevertheless, you need to give time to such issues as nobody seems to be ready to face what a relationship has to offer”, I told her. Any couple needs to make adjustments to allow a relationship to grow at a pace that works for both people. Weeks later, Serena called me to say, "It was beautiful! He called me to have dinner with him and also asked me to attend a family gathering with him next month. Basically, he appreciated my patience with him." Now she understands that couples don't spend all their time together anyway. Both of them have been honest all along the way and they are still interested in each other. They're now heading in the same direction- of a successful relationship! With their hard work and efforts, they had a happy ending.
By Zion Ara Hamid
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