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Tributes to my teacher A. R. Khan

From my boyhood and till the present, I’ve sat in front of so many persons–in our home, in the schools, college, universities; and in lecture rooms in order to learn to read, write, listen; and speak, and to learn to improve my life. I’ve not learnt enough yet to lay a claim that I don’t need to learn any more. Today, I felt to dedicate this note of tributes to one of my teachers, Abdur Rashid Khan who had cast an impression on my life and feelings for better and welfare. Into my schooling in Class VII in 1965 we were in a big crisis: we didn’t have a head teacher to guide and direct the students and the teachers! Then I didn’t realize well, but things precipitated into a damaging indiscipline; attendance to school even by the teachers was not in the right time; classes could break up at any time after the mid-noon for any insignificant reason. However, before it was too late school managing committee’s search for a suitable candidate ended up with Mr. A R Khan willing to take up the position. A man about 160 cm tall; light physique; aged only about 30 joined in our school in the later part of the year. Discipline restored in the campus immediately, the school started to sit in and break up at the just time!
It was in Dec 1965; about three or four students of Class VIII had appeared in the Junior Scholarship exam. In their question paper, there was a section to fill in the ‘gaps’. Mr Khan asked me to fill in the gap of one particular question: “He aimed __ the bird.”; I answered: “He aimed in the bird.”; consequent upon his demand I extended my right-hand palm straight forth in the front from the elbow; he had exacted a punishment by one strike of a piece of cane about 0.6 meters long; the punishment was severe to endure; then he added that my answer was wrong; the appropriate preposition was “at” in the gap; and I should remember it properly henceforth. (As mentioned then I was in Class VII.) My hand palm turned red at my age of about 12; but I felt without prejudice that A R Khan had the moral right to beat with a piece of cane–any student and especially me–for my lack of proper knowledge English language, of the level I was at.
His mere presence in the school was enough event to keep things into the proper order. He was strict to enforce rules and at the same time sympathetic to the need of individual pupil. He would keep a watchful eye on us, from the near or from the distance. He would be one of us in the playground after the school hours to play soccer.
His excellence was both with his pen and mouth. His handwriting was not appreciably fine but legible and distinct; but his pen had a unique speed; my father while visiting him occasionally would, later on, report to me that a feeble sound of his pen on the paper would reverberate in and around the table while A R Khan’s pen would continue to roll and travel on the sheet! (My handwriting is very slow!)
I had had an approach to him unbarred. He encouraged us to stand up and address the audience in the assembly for debate meetings. His teaching style was ‘participatory’; he would pause a measured amount of time in between deliberations in a lecture so as to allow pupils to give thought to what was pronounced by him just before. One day he told me, while I was alone with him, some portion from Shakespeare’s works which I didn’t quite understand. Nevertheless, his feelings were that I should understand and learn more than my age!
I had completed my schooling in Class X in Dec 1968 and then appeared in SSC Exam in May 1969. It was in late November 1968, in one afternoon, I accompanied my head teacher to a bazaar about two km off our school. He had bought sweet meat in a shop; he ate one or two pieces, I ate a little more than he; then he took tea with milk and sugar mixed, but tea was not offered to me! It seemed that he had gone to the bazaar to spend an idle evening just by walking; he didn’t purchase anything notable. However, he completed the prayer in the bazaar mosque at sunset, I remained standing outside, and in no time he set steps back; I was walking at his rear,–towards the place of origin of our journey.
The red glow of the western sky in a cloudless evening wiped out completely when we walked about 15 minutes towards the destination. We were scaling through the meadows; the paddy fields, however, dried up of the rainy season, but the soil was still soft. At this place, my Sir took an abrupt about-turn and glanced at me in the dark. He said to me that we should go by the main road instead of the path through the meadows because people might develop ill feelings about the manners of the teachers of the school walking through meadows for a ‘shout-curt’ of the distance.
So, we turned to the back and walked about more 10 minutes to get on to the point of the village road wherefrom we previously had taken the turn to the meadows. Then addressing me laughingly my teacher told in English: “Don’t lose your way bye-way!”; and explaining further in Bengali, he told me: “Go through your known way lest you might lose the way in an unknown track, and get completely lost!” Those were the happy days I yet remember about my beloved teachers, with tears in my eyes, as write this note today!
It is said: “Time and tide wait for none!” My teacher is already dead. Before his death, time took its toll on him; his sense was reduced; his faculties were squeezed. He was my teacher who gave me the warmth of his affection; loved me affectionately as he canned me on my first wrong answer (53 years ago!), and I feel by heart that it was a rare opportunity for any pupil to have and be blessed to be a disciple of Abdur Rashid Khan. He was unique by his own merit and manner!
He was born on at Deshkhagoria Village, Kashempur Union of Haziganj Upazila, District: Chandpur on 31 December 1936. He had graduated from the Comilla Victoria College in 1956; and later on completed B Ed training, however, since his graduation he adopted the profession of teaching (in high schools).
He retired from the profession in 2001; he was a teacher for a period of 45 years; mostly as the head teacher. His pupils’ learning years are estimated about 67,500 person-years [or 2,46,37,500 person-days (on average 300 students each one for 05 years with a total of over 45 years]. All his children are bright, highly meritorious, they received the highest level of university education; they are also engaged in the profession of teaching.
I feel happy and enjoy his blessings when I recollect my teacher’s everlasting memory any time. My wife and children have seen my teacher with their highest appreciations and great respects for him; they sought and humbly took his kind blessings! The blessings of my teacher for my family I earnestly longed for many, many days and years; I am very grateful to God with a sense of respectful satisfaction, that He fulfilled my humble desire in my lifetime!
My beloved teacher breathed his last at about 18:00 hours on 29 December 2016. At death, he was 80 years.
May Allah grant my teacher His immense blessings, and grant him His best reward! Ameen!
M A Taher Khandakar Nicketan, Gulshan, Dhaka. Monday, December 10, 2018.