Behind The Scene
Shobuj's Museum gains Popularity
A youth's personal initiative turned his Lalmonirhat district museum into an information centre of Lalmonirhat area's antique history, culture and heritage. He is actively involved in developing the museum's collection.
S Dilip Roy
Shobuj's hope is to turn his museum into a reasonable collection house of the greater Rangpur region, a region which has its fair share of antique history, culture and heritage. He is doing so out of his personal interest and is bearing all expenditure privately. Some financial support or patronage will enable him to fulfill his dream of building a proper museum. Currently his residence at Purbo Thanapara is being using as a temporary venue for the museum.
Ashrafuzzaman Mandol Sobuj was born to Sohidul Islam and Akhtara Begum 35 years ago. He started his work on the Lalmonirhat district museum in 2003 and since then he has collected lot of antique items. He has spent roughly Tk. 10,000 to Tk. 15,000 on each item in his collection! The antiques come from different places in the district and adjoining areas as well. In total, he has spent around 15 lac taka or 1.5 million taka behind the museum. He has collected 350 antiquities and modern coins forged by silver, bronze, mixed metals and paper, 200 metal vessels, 50 codex and several land registry documents from the time of the British, Pakistani and Bangladeshi Eras. He has also managed to collect many research papers on Vawaiya songs. Sobuj has collected many rare documents in Bangla and English, along with leaflets that were published during the struggle for freedom in 1971 as well as registration cards for refugee camps.
Sobuj's collection has been preserved in the museum and is open to visitors on holidays and special occasions. He has also authored and edited 21 books on poets, literature, heritage and the culture of the greater Rangpur region. “Many visitors especially researchers come to the museum to go through my collection. Researchers get lot of information from the museum, that aids them in their research,” said Sobuj. “Due to lack of space and security I can't display all of my collection at my house. I request the government's help in properly displaying my collection,” he continued. “I've spoken with high officials of the government and several political figures for getting a khas land for establishing the Lalmonirhat District Museum permanently several times, but I have only received vague responses,” he added.
After obtaining his Bachelors Degree in Agriculture in 2000, Sobuj took up the post of Assistant Teacher in the Uttor Gobdha Dakhil Madrashah at Durgapur village of Aditmari upazila in Lalmonirhat. He teaches there even today.“I earn little from teaching, some of what I earn is used to fulfill my family's needs, I spend the rest on antique documents and the museum,” said Sobuj.
After passing his HSC exam in 1994, he took up a hobby - he started visiting different historical sites and places rich with culture and heritage in the country. He has visited over a hundred historically and culturally significant places till now and has collected information on these places to put up in his museum.
Sobuj's father - Sohidul Islam said, “I want honor, not money. My son's work is honourable. I'm proud of him. I never discourage him from fulfilling his dream. I always try to help him financially, to support him for his exceptional work.” His mother Akhtara Begum also supported Sobuj, saying, “Most parents want their children to earn a lot of money, but we are different. We have always encouraged our son to go ahead with his dream and make his rare collection richer. I pray my son's work will someday find proper official recognition and this museum will be established.” Sobju's wife Azmery Begum said that her husband keeps himself busy in his free time by working to ensure that his vision of the Lalmonirhat District Museum gets established. The first time she was unhappy with her husband's work but she isn't anymore, as her husband is working to find a home for lost relics of Bangladesh's history, heritage and culture.
(R) thedailystar.net 2012