When my footprint will not mark this borough/
I'll not steer my ferry boat at this crossing
Life is but a walking shadow, a poor player/
That struts and frets his hour upon this stage,/
And then is heard no more. It is a tale/
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,/
First Rabindranath Thakur and then William Shakespeare -the two giants of the deepest insights into human life and mortality took over Moazzem Hossain, our beloved editor during his brief stay at Popular Hospital on Dhanmondi Road No.2 before his departure for Singapore. He was also admitted to Square Hospital on Bijoy Sarani before taking his final departure from this mortal world.
Whether his preoccupation with Thakur and Shakespeare was as overwhelming in the later stage as it was during the time at Popular Hospital where visitors were allowed will never be known. Whether he shared his feeling with his family members during the time he was under treatment in Singapore and Square is unknown too. But it can be imagined that the man wedded to work, work and work had developed a new insight into life.
Was it life's futility -complete nothingness? Looking from a neutral point of view, the helpless unconditional surrender to death is not quite savouring for people who hold work ethics high. They think they have a life's mission to bring about a change in the order of things. Indeed, they accomplish a lot and yet there are more to do. Their obligation is to none but to themselves. The late editor was one of this special breed. Or, how can a man come to the office before leaving for Singapore? When his attention was drawn to this, his answer was typical -if he did not sign papers and documents, it would have created problem for disbursing staff salaries.
Workaholic as he was, rarely did he have the opportunity to present a glimpse of his love for poetry and fine art. But in moments of heart-to-heart conversation he would have urged, "Can't you use famous quotes from great poets and writers"?
Working as close associates, many of us thought it was his momentary weakness -just pining for refreshing air after exasperation from work monotony. But at Popular, during the two hours or so I spent with him, the editor revealed a different man, in whose bosom runs a stream of poetry like an undercurrent. It was on top of the premonition of what was to come -the final call for the inevitable.
True, he rose beyond the person to whom work is the last word. There is no mistaking that life is like a light feather that drops so softly and noiselessly. Remember Forrest Gump's concluding scene where such a feather settles down before the main protagonist played by Tom Hank who sat there reflecting on his life's journey after his only son boards the school bus from the designated spot on the road. The feather now swirls around, veers its courses, dances aimlessly and at one point disappears in the blue sky or where nobody knows. Such is human life. But then Forrest remembers his mother's words: "Death is part of life". Is it? Then our life is not totally meaningless. Like the feather that waltzes in the wind has its significance. Forrest Gump rose to fame from a local idiot, a retarded child, to a national hero but he did not stop there. He ran and ran all across the United States of America without an objective in mind. It was his boyhood girlfriend Jenny -who became the mother of his son and also wife for a brief period after junior Gump's birth - who inspired him to run and run in order to save him from bullies when they were children. In later life after his decoration as a national hero, when Gump should have opted for a settled life, he did the purposeless running. But the good thing is that during his aimless cross-country running he beheld Nature in full glory. He views two skies when the reflection of one in the crystal clear lake guarded by blue mountains falls and then the sunset draws the boundary of the heaven beyond that crimson arc. Also importantly, his running inspires people to go along and fulfill their desires in their own special way.
So, the sense of nothingness is there alright, but when one's life touches those of others meaningfully, it becomes worth living. The late editor certainly touched lives here at The Financial Express and beyond positively in order to add meaning to those. It is here he walks, even after his death, taller than many of his kind.
There is nothing surprising that Macbeth's life governed by the evil design of his wife will develop a pessimistic philosophy of life. But the famous Rabindra song that haunted the editor does not end on such a pessimistic note. With renewed hope, a question is posed, "Who says, then, I'm no more on that morning? In every game shall I take part. I'll be called in a new name and be embraced in a fresh pair of hands."
So, you dearest editor will live as long as this newspaper exist. You will breathe through it -through all who carry forward the baton you left for them to continue the never ending race.
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