In my youth Hindus and Muslims lived side by side

In SUS Hindus and Muslims work side by side. These women work with physiotherapy.   Photo: Maj-Lis Koivisto

Growing up in a well-cultured environment

The house where I lived was surrounded by many Hindu families. We co-existed peacefully, sharing festivals and the neighborhood.

In my youth  Hindus and Muslims lived close to each other in harmony.   Around our house except for four or five Muslim families, all were Hindus This did not create any different feelings among us. At festival times both Hindus and Muslims took part spontaneously and openly. Not only that, every evening the call of Azan prayer was heard from the mosque of the Muslim community and the Uludhoni (a kind of evening prayer for Hindus) from every household  of the Hindu community. Every day after dusk the sound of the harmonium was heard from young people in the Hindu community rehearsing.  All these three tunes together sounded like a musical triumph, which created a wonderful atmosphere of communal harmony. Hearing these incoming melodies, even I myself wanted to join in singing.

Alas, these pleasant times seem to have been lost into an abyss. I am deeply hurt by the communal violence taking place today, and how people comment on ”minorities”.

I clearly remember how much more interesting it was to sit in the recitation circle every day with our Hindu neighbour Ashish Chakraborty. I was secretly admiring his initiative to take a group of young boys all together to clean the water hyacinths from the pond which was lying behind our area.  My mind eagerly wanted to join with them. But sadly enough it was not possible because of the tradition of the society I was living in. I did not want to miss the chances of learning many things from him.  I remained silent holding the hand of Asish Dada while I observed  the boys cleaning the pond.

Still, I am proud I was given the opportunity to grow up in a well-cultured environment. And I must say the environment of our childhood was better than now, it was less complex. I cannot remember exactly the date of the festivals of the Nazrul anniversary and the Rabindranath anniversary. But I can recall how I easily got up on the stage after being trained by Ashish Dada to recite the poem  Kathberali (squirrel) written by Kazi Nazrul Islam, the rebel poet of Bangladesh.  I can recall at that time I was not prohibited to perform a role in the drama called Voter which was directed by my favorite journalist Al Azad Bhai who is still alive and continuing  his profession.

Not only that, every month each and every household arranged cultural activities for all the boys and girls together.  Our parents themselves arranged awards and snacks. I feel that two persons especially, Ashish Dada and  Azad Bhai sowed the seeds in my childhood that have silently created me into a human being. They inspired me to read books and wreathe the garland of friendship through culture. I am grateful to Azad Bhai for donating different foreign magazines which inspired me to read and know the stories of women and children around the world. I can recall that all those stories were from Russian magazines where the illustrations pictured the different seasons, which moved my fantasy. I don’t know where my favorite Asish Dada is today yet I shall be bound in debt for his care and affection throughout my whole life.


These historical snapshots commemorate 30 years of SUS
and the life of founder Rokeya Begum, based on her book
“My way to freedom through the light of experience” and
other background documents. We are publishing snapshots
before and after the 30 years’ceremony to be held in
Netrakona, Bangladesh, on the 2 January 2017.


 ”I am deeply hurt by the communal violence taking place today, and how people comment on ‘minorities’.”







 ”They inspired me to read books and wreathe the garland of friendship through culture.”