My friend Manzur Ahmed: An epitome of a gentleman
How I start and where should I start? The call I received from Dhaka on my cell right in the middle of lunch in the USA was not the one I wanted receive.
Manzur is no more.
The last rites have already been performed. He has moved on to a different world. He is now in eternal peace in Banani.Â Â
I had the perfect opportunity to talk to him the night before when he was having dinner at my motherâ€™s place at Lalmatia, Dhaka. My brother-in-law (Babu) is (I hate to use the word â€˜wasâ€™) his best friend from their Mymensingh (now Mirzapore) Cadet College days, and theyâ€™re having a get together. Instead of talking to him, I asked my sister to convey my regards. I wish I had talked to him.
I decided to write about him â€“ because he was larger than life, a gentleman of the highest order, a person of honor, integrity, honesty, and a true patriot. I have never met - in my earlier life and will not meet in my remaining years - a person with these distinguished traits.
I can dwell on his cricketing career, which unfolded right before my eyes. But those are well known and well documented facets of his life. Iâ€™ll talk about Manzur, the man, the humanist; a person of refined culture and higher education; an educator and a captain who lived by examples, and of so many things that people do not know.
I first met him in 1974, while he was on a summer break from the Cadet College. We used to hang out at the Second Capital near ministerâ€™s quarters area. He was a perfectly built young man who used to speak very softly.Â Â Always in immaculate dress and always displlaying formal manner. He never ever used any curse words (other than Shala), which was a little unusual among the group. I learned to love hearing him talk â€“ he spoke precisely, enunciating each word perfectly, and with a measured gaps between words; an unforgettable style.
I played with him with the BUET team, and also in internal-departmental league. (Well, I was just a water boy who somehow managed to play). He was the captain of the team. And, what a captain he was â€“ when he talked, we all listened â€“ what a personality. And, oncea captain, he was alwasy a captain, a captain for life. He carried himself in the same fashion wherever he went, wherever he ventured.
As we all know, he came from a very illustrated family where all siblings excelled - be in education, be in sport, or be in the cultural arena. I wrote about this in an article in 2005 in Bangla Cricket (A tribute to the trail-blazers) â€“ from Nizam Bhai, Babu Bhai (Kalicharan) to Nashu.Â Â All played for the National Team. All are highly educated, and all are contributing to the country and society in various capacities.
How many people know that Manzur was an accomplished athlete in many other fronts? We fondly remember his corner kicks that bended like Beckham's and went straight towards the goal. When he played soccer for BUET, the passing between him and Babu was unforgettable.Â Â He never even looked for Babu, like having a sixth sense - he knew exactly where Babu would be. He played basketball for the BUET team too. I believe he captained that team too.
How many people know that he also modeled? He used to be on BTV â€“ touting Glucose-D, the only sports drink of our time. He was an active member of Nagarik Natya Sanghsta, and had a leading role in the nascent drama scenein Dhaka.Â
He started his career as an engineer in Titas Gas, and at the same time obtained an MBA from the IBA. Titas Gas was not a place for him â€“ not a place for an honest person like him. He left the country to become an educator. I sometimes wondered how he would function in the prevailing culture that exists in BCB. He considered his job as CEO as a duty, a call to serve the nation. I hear that he was frustrated for various reasons, and rendered resignation last November. This was not accepted and true to his dutiful nature, he did not walk out. He stayed on. I met him last in December 2010, just before the World Cup. He was very busy, but on seeing my business card he came out of his office, and cleared the room to spend 30 minutes with his good old friend.
Manzur is not with us anymore. But he will live on forever in our memories. Manzur, you are in a better world. I am sure you will find other cricketers there; please start a cricket team there but just do not play T20. Weâ€™re coming soon. Just keep a place for a water boy - Iâ€™ll be a perfect fit. May God bless you and your family!