The nation's guiding lights are leaving us one by one. First, it was national professor Jamilur Reza Choudhury who was on his eternal journey and now national professor Anisuzzaman follows suit. Their departure, particularly within so short a time and at this critical period of coronavirus pandemic, comes to the nation as a double tragedy. Each of them was not only the leading scholar in their respective discipline but also their versatility of knowledge and wide-ranging activism hardly left any area worth its name untouched.
During this time of trial and tribulation and post-Covid realignment of socio-economic relations, the nation needed their guidance most. This the nation will sorely miss. Their intellect was tempered by their enlightenment of their hearts and dedication to making Bangladesh a better place for the posterity. This is exactly why Prof. Anisuzzaman and Prof. Jamilur Reza are revered as iconic national figures by all -irrespective of political leanings.
However, today we mourn the person who has just left us and became the nation's guardian angel and conscience personified. His death at the age of 83 cannot be called quite untimely. But in case of a gifted mind like that of Dr. Anisuzzaman and one that was alive and active even before his admission to the intensive care unit of the Combined Military Hospital (CMH), the departure is certainly premature. He still had more to give to the nation. This is the reason why the nation will hate coronavirus more than ever before, because had it not attacked the octogenarian, he might have prevailed over the old-age complications he was suffering from.
Why Prof. Anisuzzaman stands apart from the rest of the intellectuals is his quietude. He has never been a vociferous voice but one who made his point clear and heard with few words calmly delivered. So precise and organized are his writings and speeches that others have ever wondered how this can be achieved by a man of literature. His linguistic reach often goes beyond the dictum of dictionary. Even in the use and choice of a vernacular word, he demonstrated his range when he explained in just a sentence (published in the Prothom Alo) why it was correct or he preferred it to another of the kind.
His scholarly wisdom has thus served the nation in key areas of the national life - be it politics, social causes, human rights, secular and cultural aspiration and uncompromising activism against retrogression from the spirit of liberation war and aberration of values that went into the making of this nation. He has thus played a decisive role in moulding the mainstream mindset at a time when alien and harmful cultural influences are poised to take the youths off track.
As a teacher, Prof. Anisuzzaman is in a class of his own. His scholarship tinged with an inner glow has not been awe-inspiring rather imbued his students and disciples with craving for further knowledge. He did not maintain distance with learners and companions but drew them closer by his attractive and pleasant personality. This was possible because he was a scholar in the Socratic sense. And he could take this mission beyond his class room to the socio-political and cultural arena. Thus he assumes the role of the premier guardian angel of the nation.
Now he is no more. He will no longer personally come in aid of the nation with his insightful guidance but he has left his works for us to study. Most of all his has been a life of honesty, dedication, discipline and enlightenment tempered with humility — a combination of rare virtues in a person. His life's lesson will always be with us to lead and guide us. He will remain with us forever.
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