Mostafa Kamal Majumder
Human life is short. Death is inevitable. The sudden death of eminent journalist and researcher Syed Abul Moqsud on 23 February once again proved this.
Syed Abul Moqsud was cheerful, healthy, alert and mindful of surroundings on February 3 when we joined a day-long timeout hosted by Syed Tipu Sultan at his Cancer Palliative Care Hospital complex at Village Kusumpur in Vikrampur, about an hour’s drive from the metropolis. There was no indication that he was suffering from any ailment. A man in his mid-seventies Syed Abul Moqsud was a little bit mindful about his diet. The three of us dined together, shared experiences and pleasantries, walked around the hospital complex, a garden of 160 medicinal plants, largest in Bangladesh, and a laboratory building being built on its side, plus an under construction artificial hillock being topped with an earthen house surrounded by a lake all belonging to Syed Tipu Sultan.
One special feature of these establishments was that they were filled with winter vegetables cultivated with utmost care alongside the many varieties of flower plants and fruit trees. Fresh Tomatoes, pumpkins, gourd, cucumbers, reddish, brinjals and beans, were all around with Syed Abul Moqsud occasionally showing interest in taking some of those home.
Syed Tipu Sultan who has earned fame for raising a world-class garden beside his pharmacy in New York said his nephew, Mahmud Hasan Mukut, who supervises the development works at the hospital complex, the medicinal garden complex and the artificial lake and hillock complex and oversaw the cultivation of vegetables succeeded to beat him only in the production of tomatoes.
All the day Syed Abul Moqsud showered praise on Syed Tipu Sultan for his great initiatives to serve the suffering humanity. Syed Tipu Sultan’s philanthropic activities also include free eye camps, free cleft-leap operations, arsenic mitigation services, fellowships on water journalism, support to poor families, poor students of schools.
We had been to Syed Tipu Sultan’s free Palliative Care Hospital Complex before along with others. But this time we were limited in number. Syed Abul Moqsud and I were wearing face masks. Syed Tipu Sultan who is a Covid-19 survivor insisted the disease was not there in the villages and we should remove our masks. He explained to us his plans on the hillock-top mud-house, the latest developments at the Palliative Care Hospital, the garden of medicinal plants and the research centre building being constructed on its side.
We watched a short video on philanthropic activities at the end of the day. On the way to Kusumpur from the metropolis in the morning Syed Abul Moqsud and I discussed the latest political and social situation and felt bad at the lack of the spirit of accommodation in the two spheres. He was glad to know that I was back to The New Nation and hoped the oldest English Daily of Bangladesh would gain in popularity. The overall state of the news media is not good, he said lamenting the absence of a professional atmosphere in many of the outlets.
He collected a copy of the Prothom Alo newspaper that carried his article on the day. He cursed the Chief Election Commissioner for not giving a hearing to a daughter of Moulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhashani over the Tangail Municipal election. He wrote, this behaviour hurt not only the spirit of Moulana Bhashani but also that of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman who was the Moulana’s disciple.
This reflected a spiritual side of Syed Abul Moqsud who in his exchange of ideas on the day mentioned, Lord Clive had to pay for his mindless killing of people during and after the conquest of Plassey. Those who betrayed Nawab Siraj-ud-daulah also paid prices of the betrayal, he said and mentioned them one after another. He used to believe that people suffer for hurting others.
Syed Abul Moqsud and I were given two bags-full of vegetables on our trip back to the city. I took a drop at The New Nation office and told him I felt bad that his trip was being made longer because of the traffic jam in the Jurain and Hatkhola area. He replied saying it was nothing because we have to accommodate each other.
The moment I heard of his death on February 23 evening, I called Mukut to share my feelings with his uncle Syed Tipu Sultan. Mukut said, he talked to Syed Abul Moqsud only two hours ago when he was complaining of some discomfort. His family sources said Syed Abul Moqsud developed breathing problems before he was rushed to the Square Hospital where he was pronounced dead. It was unbelievable, Syed Tipu Sultan and I agreed. Syed Abul Moqsud did express his desire to visit Kusumpur once again. The day he died Syed Tipu sultan set off for New York. I recall it was great that we spend a day together on the 3rd of February. After 20 days it was all memory. – 03 March 2021