A TRIBUTE TO TAHERA APA
Mohammed Shahjahan, Advocate
There are people whom you come across and you can never forget them again due to reasons more than one. They leave unforgettable impressions that you carry around all your life. The memories left behind by them make you weep in moments beyond your control. Tahera Apa was, to me, such a person.
Prior to joining the District Bar Association of Cox’sBazar as a humble lawyer following enrolment with the Bangladesh Bar Council, I had long been in the teaching profession for say, nearly one and a half decades. I was lucky enough to have the chance to teach English in a couple of colleges, high schools and primary schools in both Cox’sBazar and Bandarban.The first institutional teaching job that I had immediately after my graduation was at Cox’sBazar KG and Model High School. It was at this school that I came to know her for the first time. She was then the Assistant Headmistress of the school.
She was very affectionate to her students. She was equally so to her junior colleagues like me. During my initial days as a teacher in the school, she took great care of me. As I was born, brought up and educated in an extremely rural area, I had difficulty adjusting with the overall environment of the famous school located in the heart of the tourist town of Cox’sBazar.Teaching English successfully to the smart students of the school was also sort of a challenge for me.Tahera Apa had a keen eye on all these and that’s how she used to come up with useful suggestions for me. That helped a lot.
She was one of the pioneering founding teachers of the school which came into being as the first ever Kinder Garten in the district of Cox’sBazar. She continued as a teacher of the school until the day that her life was abruptly cut short by the cruel wheels of speeding traffic. The valuable contributions she made in a life-time to the school by toiling hard day in and day out will always be remembered with gratefulness.
She had to shoulder the responsibility of running the school as the Headmistress-in-charge several times. While in charge, she demonstrated her capabilities of steadfastness, determination, impartiality and above all honesty in all her glory.
I can’t help referring to some memorable incidents here. Once, while she was acting as the Headmistress of the school, a local vernacular daily published a malicious and baseless news item about her. So she was visibly upset and she requested all to find out who got the false news item published in the newspaper. Due to the fact that I have always been involved with the print media in one way or the other, some of my colleagues who didn’t like me that much for reasons known only to them tried to impress upon Tahera Apa that it was me and none else behind the news item. But as she knew me very well, she didn’t buy the idea. Later on, when she approached me about the issue, I helped her by way of procuring from the newspaper office the typed copy of the news item supplied to the newspaper by two teachers of the school. Of course, I didn’t disclose to her the names of the two teachers instrumental behind the news. Anyway, her unshaken trust in me made and kept me happy.
Hers was, so to speak, a life full of tragedies. She lost her husband when she was still very young. Shaken and shocked to the core of her being, she didn’t give it all up. She got a firm hold of her family and went all the way for the proper nurturing of her three children.Tasmia Ismail Tammy being her last issue fell victim to the same road traffic accident claiming their lives. This Tammy was one of the brightest former students of the school. The second incident that I would like to mention here is related to Tammy. When Tammy passed her HSC, Tahera Apa wanted her to get admitted into South Asian University for Women. Set up and run by the SAARC, it is truly an international university situated in Chittagong.She collected the forms and the brochure for admission and requested me to fill them out for Tammy. I did. What she did in return for me was unexpected. She sent presents to my wife and my first daughter Jasmine Jahan Lima who then was just a baby girl.
As the holy Quran says, there is no escape from the clutches of death. In fact, there is no greater truth than death. Once born, every living being has to face the inevitable. So is the case with Tahera Apa and Tammy. They are no more with us. All we can do now for them is to pray for the salvation of their departed souls.While we do so, we also convey our deepest sympathies to those of her immediate family whom she left behind to mourn her death for ever.
To conclude, I simply can’t evade asking this question- when will there be an end to all these deadly road traffic accidents wrecking havoc with the lives of so many victims and survivors?
Mohammed Shahjahan: An Advocate practising at the District and Sessions Judge’s Court, Cox’sBazar.
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