Born in 22nd February 1955, Faridur Reza Sagor is Bangla Academy Shishu Shahitto award winning author. He is also the managing director of Impress Telefilm and Channel i. He is a regular columnist and a fiction writer to different magazines and newspapers. He is the author of more than fifty novels for children which includes; adventure, thriller, travelogues, liberation war and many more. He is also the winner of Chander Hat awards, Euro Children literature awards, Bangladesh Shangbadik Samity awards, Cultural Reporters' awards National Film awards along with many more national level awards.
Faridur Reza Sagor
I was working at Rampura Television Centre. A good number of women were getting hired as contractual jobs at BTV. Many of them were in administrative positions, and were some in minor jobs.
I always used to find one woman, running around, working hard for mini DG (Director General) Mustafa Kamal. The woman was a peon of the then presentation controller, Kamal Bhai. I had to be at Kamal Bhai's room often, therefore too often saw the woman.
Still, queue system had not been introduced at BTV. Therefore, everyday program schedules had to be prepared for the day, and also for the next day. The schedules used to be typewritten, carbon copied, and distributed to the people involved. That was of another amazing era – it was fun.
A program structure was prepared three months beforehand. But the telecast day and time of the programs, the artists, the hosts and the guests were decided on the day depending on the situation – it could be said that many decisions were improvised. Therefore, often timings and decisions used to change.
A man named Mahbub used to compose the program schedules using a typewriter. The mentioned woman used to make carbon copy those schedules and distribute to different staff. She often used to prepare tea for us – she was not a lazy person at all. She always used be on her toes, busy on her own will. She had nothing in common with the typical government fourth class employees.
One day, Mostafa Kamal hadn't arrived at office yet. I was waiting for him alone to discuss about work.
The woman came in front of me.
“How are you?” I asked.
“I want to tell you something, sir” she replied.
With a humble and confused face, she said “sir, I heard you have a restaurant near the stadium, and it does very well”.
“Hmm” I said “spill out what you have to say”.
She said straight to me “sir, my husband is unemployed; please get him a job at your restaurant”.
I didn't say anything that day. Where and how can I give him a job? I was in an awkward situation. These are poor and simple minded people; don't want to listen or understand any reason.
Somehow, I avoided giving her a straight answer that day. But, I knew I wouldn't be able to avoid her appeal in the end. After all, I see her every day at office, and every day she would look at me for an answer. My assumptions were right.
For how long can one avoid a person? So, one day I told her to bring her husband to me.
The very next day, the husband showed up with well-combed oiled hair. I looked at him – a simple man; half trimmed beard with cheek and neck bones popping out. Like most like him are; he was skinny, simple, weakly person with thick glasses.
I couldn't think right away what could be the right job for the person. I had no problem giving into someone's request, but there must be something there to give into.
“What is your education?” I asked.
He said that he couldn't do his bachelors, but somehow finished his Higher Secondary few years back.
“What kind of job do you want?” I asked.
“Anything you can.”
He must've known what kind work there is in a restaurant, still he was standing in front of me with smiling face of appeal. I couldn't figure out where I can put him in work. I was in great awkwardness.
I couldn't promise him anything that day but to tell him to come back the next week. “Let me think for a week about you, something will be arranged” I said. He left that day.
After two days, something happened out of nowhere.
All the newspapers published on the first page that in Rampura a middle aged woman had died from busted stove. It was not only one woman died that day, there were more. But the women mentioned here was among the dead; the woman who had sent her husband for a job to me. Reading the news in the morning made me feel horrible. Death is inevitable, but when it happens in such a tragic way doubles the sadness.
The very next day the husband showed up in the restaurant. I told him to sit, but he didn't. His eyes were blood-shot red, hair was messy, and cheek bones were coming out even more than before.
“How are you doing? Want a glass of cold water?” I asked.
“No” he replied, “you are from television, must've heard the news that my wife died with many other woman”.
I nodded my head. There was even a brief condolence program about the incident on TV.
His eyes were dry when he came – now from his red eyes tears started to drop like rain. He wasn't saying anything but just crying. There are times in one's life when he feels helpless. I too didn't have a clue what to say, didn't know how to console this man.
All I could say “want eat something?”
He nodded his head to mean “no”.
I told him “you start working here from the first day of next month, you will feel even worse if you sit idle, be busy at work.”
He again slightly nodded his head and said “no sir, I don't need the job anymore. The person I needed the job for is not in this world anymore, just wanted her to have a better life.”
He didn't wait for second after uttering those words, he left and disappeared like a droplet among the crowd on Bangabandhu Avenue.
Just a day after that, another brief news was published in the newspaper; the man had committed suicide with poison. The news was published without any worth – without any significance.
Translated by Zia Nazmul Islam
Illustration by Ujjal Ghose
(R) thedailystar.net 2012