Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home


A Van Gogh painting

She asks them to go out and observe… observe the husky blue of the sky, the shimmering golden ray of the sun on the crispy green leaves of trees, and asks them to take a moment, and think how beautiful the world is. Yes, that is Masuma Khan, an artist who presents life from her eyes, on her canvas.

When asked, how she feels teaching art to her students, she answers rather wittily, 'Amazing! Guiding fifteen to twenty students is not easy, but nevertheless, it gives me great pleasure and a sense of satisfaction.'

With her charming disposition, she communicates with her students like a friend, and instead of ordering them to paint, she share ideas with them, and finally reaches a conclusion, on matters like should the cow have three horns, or should the man's face be green or not!

After all it's all about imagination, and it's the only asset in a person's life, where he can swim into the deepest of the deepest, and climb back to the reality in a click!

Masuma Khan wants her students to do- stick to imagination- at least when it comes to colour. 'I teach them composition, perspective and how to handle water colour and pastel', she adds on a serious note.

Currently, Masuma Khan is carrying out her three-month art course (started this August 2006) in the senior building of South Breeze, at Dhanmondi, every Friday, from 10:30 am, up till 12:00 noon. The class welcomes you with light and paintings on the walls, making the art room so moving and colourful, that for one moment you feel as if you've entered a Van Gogh painting, where his every brush stroke reveals a swaying story.

The students, among whom you'd get children starting from age five, up till teenagers of age fifteen, all of whom have immense talent, and an urge to prove themselves. They just need a torch to light up their paths, and that's why Masuma Khan is for, because she proudly states, 'I feel that the imagination of the children is enormous, but they need

The students really enjoys her presence, because Masuma Khan can blend in her childish manner magically, and crack jokes, and tell them sarcastic stories from her art profession, toning the class atmosphere into a much comfortable and be-at-home like level.

Undoubtedly, the outcomes of the students are fascinating. Shamma, who is five year old, is always hyped about drawing butterflies and villages, and impress Masuma miss, and on the contrary, her paintings are so cute, that Masuma Khan can’t resist to give it a hats-off every time.

Fahim, a seven year old boy, always draw things small- car, house, man- you name it- whenever Masuma miss asks him why does he do it, Fahim’s serious matter-of-fact answer, 'It just happens', hardly suppresses Masuma Khans laughter, but at the end, Fahim’s paintings turn out to be the most colourful and eye- catching one. On the other hand, some of the elder students like Shagufta, who learns acrylic painting, Upama who does pastel, and Mysha who does poster, tackles their work like any other painter, and brings out their best every time.

Few of them, like Farah, Aysha and Esha are learning art here almost for three years! So like them, several other young art artists, makes the environment so much fun and interesting, that sometimes it does look like the junior version of Charukala, but just on its kiddish term.

Moreover, Masuma Khan's style of teaching is quite different and unique. She simple doesn't walk into the class, and draws on the board, for rest of the students to draw it. Instead she brings about a pile of colourful books and pictures, and asks the students to choose their favourite one, and paint it.

This way, the students put their maximum effort to accomplish their favourite work, and every time, you get outstanding results. Between minute to minute, Masuma Khan however inspects their work, making sure they are doing it perfectly. By making the students draw different things, in different ways, in this art class, art has been taken to a much wider version, rather than keeping it as a claustrophobic issue.

Masuma Khan herself is a scientist in painting, because she doesn't fear to experiment with forms and colours. Her paintings always speak of 'Hope'. Even in a painting titled 'Insomnia', Masuma doesn't fail to depict a sense of optimism in it, despite the struggle against oppression and loneliness of modern time. Masuma Khan won the President's medal in 'All Pakistan Art Competition' in '60, '61. She won a 'Jaycees prize' in '81, and in '97 she was one of the awarded 'Annana Top Ten Women' in Bangladesh. Before South Breeze, she taught art at Alliance Francaise De Dacca, from 1986 to 2003.

Artists sometimes present stark reality, sometimes masked beauty, and sometimes honesty in their painting. Masuma Khan is an artist who seeks out the positive attire of life, and strokes it off on her canvas, sometimes by acrylic, often by oil painting. She is an inspiration to her students, because she is indeed an artist who turns something into something else. She does wizardry, and children love magic!

By Saad Adnan Khan

Grown-up child

The best thing about her is her smile. I may be distressed, depressed or even furious but whenever she gives me that smile of hers I just can't help but smile back with equal sincerity forgetting everything else at that moment. I'm not sure why…probably because of the sheer innocence radiating from her simple, pure, absolute delight- an innocence that can only be found in the smiles of children.

You must be wondering by now who she is. Well I won't keep you in suspense any longer. She is my little possibly 10-year-old (no one knows her actual age) housemaid and let me tell you this as well - the only thing innocent about her is her smile.

I have really never met a girl so unabashedly cheeky in my entire lifetime. She fights with the other servant we've got in front of me, calls her names whose existence I discovered only a few years back, glares at me when I scold or thrash her, lies endlessly without remorse, howls loud enough to bring the whole house down when the other servant beats her, comes up with a novel mischief each day and does every single thing needed to drive one completely crazy.

But then again she's got this angelic smile and a way of saying sorry or expressing her concern that simply melts your heart. Actually she's this naughty little kid we may have loved to have in our family but never ever as our servant.

She's earning for her family at an age I didn't even know clearly what money meant- staying away from her home, working for us, silently receiving our curses, slaps and blows and bearing sorrows too heavy for her tiny heart. Her father was a gambler who used to beat up her mother every day and take money from her mother for gambling. Yet at the same time he loved her a lot and vice versa. When she was six years old he was eventually killed by his gambler friends for not paying back their money. According to her, they beat him up until blood filled his mouth and then he just died.

I was reading the Quran to her once- there was a part there about hell and while I was reading that she suddenly informed me with a knowing grown-up look that her father is burning in hell right now for hurting her mother and for gambling and not saying his prayers. There was such absolute certainty in her voice that I was completely taken off-guard. And there was something else too- a ring of sadness for the father she loved and needed.

After the death of her father they moved to Dhaka where her mother began working at construction sites. Her sisters were next sent for the post of housemaids and finally it was her turn. She worked for two years at a house where she looked after a child...ya she looked after one. Then she came to work for us. We'll probably get rid of her soon enough too cause as I said no one wants to have such a brazen servant around.

There are times when I find her crying at our house- it's weird to see someone who's always laughing and creating mischief cry. She weeps silently trying her best to keep her tears hidden. My other maid confided in me the secret behind her tears- it's her kid brother Al-Ameen who she hasn't seen for the past two years. She used to take care of him and play with him and she misses him a lot now.

But yet despite everything she suffers at our house she still wishes to stay here. It shields her from her poverty at home, spares her the pain she'd have to face there every moment- the dirt of slums, the pangs of hunger, the danger from the people there. How terrible must that life be to make her prefer living this one.

She's very intelligent. When she first came to our house she could say the ad 'baba tumi jano, amar moina pakhi na…' word by word and exactly the way it was said there. She knows the icon for Banglalink simply through ads and remembers every detail of what we speak in front of her. I taught her 'shore o shore a' many months back and she still hasn't forgotten it. I wonder very often what her life would have been like if she was born in a better family.

Her name is Shurma and the worst thing about her is the way she makes me feel guilty without even meaning to do that…guilty for being too lazy to teach her reading and writing, for always losing my temper with her, for expecting a kid half my age to do my work- guilty for being so helpless to help her out of her misery.

By Tasnia

Award Ceremony at the British Council

The morning of September 19, 2006 saw the rising stars of Bangladesh shining with pride as they were awarded for their outstanding performance in the Cambridge International Examinations during the June 2006 session. This is the first time that CIE has held a ceremony in Bangladesh to recognize high achieving students from Cambridge schools across the country.

The ceremony was held in the British Council auditorium. Richard Sunderland, Deputy Director of British Council Bangladesh addressed the hall in his welcome speech, congratulating and applauding the achievers and making the audience aware of the international standard of education that CIE offers and the various ways in which it helps an individual build his career. In his motivating speech he also talked about the qualities that every successful man shares. He ended expressing his delight to be present in the ceremony.

Ann Puntis, Chief Executive, University of Cambridge International Examinations was absent in the ceremony but she was represented by a video clip of her speech. She said: “We congratulate these students for gaining such outstanding results. They should be proud to have gained qualifications that will help provide a solid foundation for them in the coming years” and thanked the parents and teachers for their support.

After the welcome speeches the awards were presented by Richard Sunderland and William Bickerdike, Regional Manager South Asia, University of Cambridge International Examinations, to the 11 blushing winners.

The award recognized students in the following categories:
·Top candidate in three international A Level subjects
·Top male and female candidates in six Cambridge

International O Level subjects
·Top in the world candidates in Cambridge International O Level subjects
·Top in Bangladesh candidates in Cambridge International
O Level subjects
The prize winners were:

Bangladesh prizewinners

·Top in 3 International A Levels Tasneem Rafayat (BD201, Chittagong Grammar School)
·Top male in 6 Cambridge International O Levels Tasdik Mahmud (BD600, St Francis Xavier's Greenherald International School)
·Top female in 6 Cambridge International O Levels Tonima Tasnim Anannya (BD019, Manarat International Dhaka)

Top in the world
·Bengali Jyotirmoy Mandal (BD201, Chittagong Grammar School)
·Human and Social Biology Russell Mahmood (BD009, Oxford International School)
·Mathematics (Syllabus D) Shara Singh (BD201, Chittagong Grammar School)

Top in Bangladesh
·Additional Mathematics Tonima Tasnim Anannya (BD019, Manarat International School)
·Art Quazi Shafi Sunny (BD600, St Francis Xavier's Greenherald International School)
·Bangladesh Studies Shara Singh (BD201, Chittagong Grammar School)
·Bangladesh Studies Tamima Alam (BD201, Chittagong Grammar School)
·Biology Tamima Alam (BD201, Chittagong Grammar School)
·Chemistry Tapesh Chakraorty (BD201, Chittagong Grammar School)
·Commerce Reme Rashid (BD600, St Francis Xavier's Greenherald International School)
·Computer Studies Tonima Tasnim Anannya (BD019, Manarat International Dhaka)
·Economics Shara Singh (BD201, Chittagong Grammar School)
·English Language Nirjhar Barua (BD201, Chittagong Grammar School)
·Physics Tonima Tasnim Anannya (BD019, Manarat International Dhaka)
·Principles of Accounts Russell Mahmood (BD009, Oxford International School)

Each prize winner received a certificate and the three overall Cambridge International A Level and Cambridge International O Level winners received an Amazon voucher worth £100.

As the award giving ended William Bickerdike stood up for the closing remarks where he congratulated the winners and hoped for an everlasting tie between the students, teachers and parents of Bangladesh and the British Council.
This was followed by a photo session and refreshments.

By Efadul Huq


home | Issues | The Daily Star Home

2006 The Daily Star