The serine beauty of Jahangirnar University campus gives us a taste of a western university located in the lap of nature adorned with different kinds of trees, boughs, lakes, birds and their singing. The campus allured me to get enrolled there in 1983 and were the thirteenth batch of the university. As it was a fully residential university, each and every student must have a seat in the hall. Our hall was then under construction and we were accommodated at Al-Beruni Hall. We were waiting to have our own seats in the hall.
Prof, Dr M Kabir, was a renowned statistical expert and dedicated former Professor and Head of the Department of Statistics, and our first provost of Shaheed Salam-Barkakt Hall , Jahangirnagar University and former member of Academic Council and member of External Expert Panel of Teachers Recruitment Board of Daffodil International University left this mundane world on 08 May 2017 (Inna lillahe————-Rajeon).He enjoyed the air, environment and other elements of this earth till he was 72 when he suddenly saluted us. We are deeply shocked at his sudden demise and sincerely pray to Almighty for resting him in the eternal peaceful place. He left behind him two sons namely Abir and Russle, wife and a host of relatives students and well- wishers to mourn his death. Management, faculty member’s employees, and students of Daffodil International University expressed deep condolence at the death of Professor Dr. M. Kabir and conveyed sympathy to bereaved family members. In a condolence message, JU Vice-Chancellor Professor Dr Farzana Islam expressed profound shock at the death of Professor M Kabir.She prayed for eternal peace of the departed soul and conveyed deep sympathy to the bereaved family members. His two sons Abir and Russel both live in the USA. When I met sir in a function at Dhaka he just gave a broad smile and told that his second Russel also left the country for USA. His first son Abir had been there already.
I just want to mention several memorable events we had with Kabir Sir which we directly and closely witnessed being a resident student of Shaheed Salam Barkat Hall of Jahangirnagar University. Kabir sir was the first provost of the hall. We just experienced quite an innovative way to distribute the rooms of hall among the students. It is not unknown to us that the rooms of the public university in our country are distributed by the student leaders to force the new comers to join the party. Hall policies and student politics hardly allow the real students to occupy seats legally in the university dormitories. But Kabir sir just invited us to his department (Statistics) one evening and entertained all the students with ‘tea’ and ‘singara’ and then gave us a briefing how we were going to get seats in the hall. He suggested us first to choose the roommates in pair as our rooms were two seated. Then a lottery show was arranged. One of each pair could pick a piece of paper where room numbers were written. I chose my roommate ‘ Saiful Islam’ who also belonged to the department of English. My close friend who now works at Bangla Academy Mizan by name managed ‘ Saiful ‘ to make a pair with me. My would-be roommate first picked a paper and the room he picked was far from the bathroom. Then for the second time I was given opportunity to chose another one which wrote room number ‘ B/230’. Bathroom was only three rooms away and the room number sounded good. So, we decided to take that room and sir also gave us thanks for choosing our own rooms and cooperating with him in his mission. It was on the ground floor as the construction was going on.
Sir was a demographer and a renowned researcher. Almost every day he used to go to Dhaka for his research work. Every day he came to our hall at night, talked to us, visited different rooms and washrooms to see whether things were okay or not. One day he along with the house tutors and ‘hall warden, came to our room and told us to shift to first floor just above our head in the same room number. Thus he did not allow us to create any chaos to occupy the rooms of the first floor. The ground-floor to be vacated for the first year students. How tactfully he managed our shifting without keeping a little scope for the student leaders to handle the affair!
In one Eid vacation many of us did not leave the hall as our year final examination was just after the vacation. Sir came to our hall and told us not to miss and forget to visit his house and ‘dine’ with him. His residence was at Bishmail and our hall was about one kilometre away from it. He told madam that ‘ my boys will dine with us today’. Hearing this, some of our senior professors told us that ‘ you are lucky enough that a provost has invited you to his house. We, being the students of Dhaka University, could never imagine that a provost would invite his students to his house. “Many of us were ready to go to his house. Sir, phoned and the guard told us and sir remained us to go to his house. We were ready to go but alas! Some students suddenly changed their decision simply for nothing not to visit his house. Being a resident of that hall I myself could go beyond the decision of those friends which still pricks me. Sir, came next day and told us ‘ you did not go, your madam was asking me again and again when your boys are coming.” We just expressed sorrow. It was not an age of mobile phone. If it had been things would have proved quite differently. Still, sir phoned to hall office and guard reminded us to go to his house. People could not imagine how cordial he was with his students though outwardly he looked serious!
He used to be the colleague of my maternal uncle who was the teacher of the same department. It was another source to get closer to Kabir sir and umpteen times we had to dine, mix, talk and gossip. On another occasion he started taking rich dishes in my mama’s house and finished earlier than all others. He just apologized saying how much was it possible for him to eat as his body was slim and very simply he expressed it. His voice was soft but grave and serious. Some students did not like him for his calling a spade a spade but my memory with him tells me that he was a nice man and learned professor who produced enviable number of brighter students who now work both at home and abroad. He will live through his works and students.
(The writer works for BRAC Education Program. Email: email@example.com)