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     Volume 4 Issue 48 | May 27, 2005 |

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Magician in my Childhood

Maswood A. Khan

A strange and wonderful thing happened to me on April 24, 2005. Our Public Relations Officer at lunchtime whispered to me to stay back after office hours to enjoy an event in the lounge of our Board Division. It was a magic show. As a close friend of Magician Jewel Aich, very popular in Bangladesh, and quite accustomed to seeing magic tricks at home and abroad I assumed that there would be a grand function at the Head Office of Rajshahi Krishi Unnayan Bank where I work as General Manager. But my heart sank as I found the corner of the lounge bounded by some old, tattered and faded sofa sets. And I was told that the magician was inside the makeshift-kind-of-tent. I felt like quitting the function, as I apprehended it would be a boring event, given the poor get-up. But a crowd of personnel was already there eagerly awaiting the event, so courtesy forced me to stay back.

At 4:50 pm a bespectacled old man, almost 75 years old, with a huge pot belly and white moustache, came out of the hideout. There was a table loaded with a lot of gizmos -- a picture frame, a hard board with a skull drawn on, some seemingly empty jars, a small copper pitcher, some odd-shaped trinkets, etc.

Known as Magician Ruhul Amin, he has been performing magic shows for the last 50 years. There is not a school, a college or a big office in any part of Bangladesh or the then East Pakistan where he hasn't performed his magic. An illiterate person from Chatkhil, Noakhali, he enjoys talking in Pidgin English and 'shantipuri' Bangla, wearing a necktie, an old hat and a jacket frayed at the cuffs. Like a Bedouin magician, Ruhul roams around from one district to another lugging his boxes of magic equipment.

As he carried on showing one magic trick after another I gaped at him in awe and felt a little numb as the magic, however shabby in style and colour, began to look very familiar. A kind of ethereal feeling came as if a magic wand had struck a nerve in my memory shelf; over me, my mind was transported back to my childhood.

I was a student of Class III in Sunamganj Government High School. A similar function was being held in our school auditorium not less than 40 years back.

Almost all the tricks magician Ruhul Amin showed at afternoon I had seen in my school event too. As a kindergartener I had been mystified wondering how a man could bring out a live pigeon from an empty jar, how a man could pour out water several times from a small copper pitcher, every time fully emptying the same!

After the magic show was over I invited the old magician to my office chamber to exchange pleasantries. I told him that he rekindled my boyhood memories. As I told him about my school experience in Sunamganj, he reckoned that he was there in Sunamganj too at the time I was referring to. I don't exactly remember the face of my hero-like magician who had me when I was a kid. But the remotest and the faintest layer of my memory told me that this 75-year-old magician was perhaps the same person in his young days who had beguiled my childish mind with the tricks he performed with the same hands that had now become wrinkled and tired.

What a feeling! It was like a toy one has lost in childhood that suddenly one finds hidden behind the same piece of furniture. Something so precious it stays with you for life.

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