Wednesday, January 17, 2018 | ePaper

Ambassador Loic Moreau in Rajshahi

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Mahmud Shah Qureshi :
My cousin Dolly Nizam, wife of Late Rasul Nizam, former Honorary Consul for France informed me that Loic Moreau died sometime ago. I felt very sad. He was the 3rd ambassador in Bangladesh. But during 1971, he was working, as an officer in the French foreign office, in favour of Bangladesh. This I learned from Monsieur Sekutuvitch when, on mission, both Mollah Jalal and I went to Aleppo to meet him. He was the Consul General in Dhaka during the crucial period of our history, i.e. 1967-1970.
However, we met Monsieur Moreau in Dhaka for the first time when he came here as ambassador in October, 1978. Very tall and friendly happy middle-aged man he was very popular during his tenure in our capital. As I was teaching at the Institute of Bangladesh Studies, a prestigious research centre in Rajshahi University, I invited him to visit us there. Finally, before leaving Dhaka, provably in 1982 he came to Rajshahi by car.
While formally visiting the university, his duty was to honour me with the French insignia of Chevalier dans l'ordre des Palmes Academiques, that is to say, knight in the order of academic distinctions. This he did in the Vice-Chancellor's office with the acting VC, the Registrar (Omar Faruk) and several senior teachers and officers. Later on he visited part of the campus with the deputy Registrar Nazim Mahmud and me. I particularly remembered to take him to our Shahid Minar and the Museum of Martyrs. Afterwords we went to the Institute where a group of Fellows and officers met him and showed our valuable collection of research materials. I could also show him a bound volume of the famous French newspaper Le Monde which made him rather nostalgic. In the afternoon and evening my wife Nasreen and I could organise two receptions, the first one for my student who were learning French language (ten at that time) and the second one was with my selected senior colleagues of the university.
Although it’s a long time now, I remember many of his conversations even today. Once in the early eighties, I was accompanying my father-in-law, Professor Syed Ali Ahsan to meet somebody in the Purbani Hotel. Suddenly he asked me how he could handover the invitation card of his eldest son’s marriage to Moreau. The French embassy was in the Purbani Hotel at that time. So, I told him let us go to the embassy and if we could not meet the ambassador we would just drop it there. But he was very much there and I excused ourselves for visiting him without prior notice. His reply was something to remember all my life. He said, “Professor Ahsan is the dearest friend of ours as he is the friend of many French writers, specially member of the French Academy Andre Chamson.”  I asked rather naughtily, “And what about me?”
He replied, “Oh you! You are l’un de nous, one of ours. Indeed, I remained one of them since then. I really felt that I was one of them, to these representatives of French Culture in my country. It continued for many, many years afterwards. I would also remember Andre Reynouard, former Alliance Francaise Director and several other French diplomats.”
I must not forget that in 1991 and 1996 I met Loic Moreau for two get together parties in Paris. He hosted a dinner for my wife and me in a very special restaurant. On 20.11.1992, it was another occasion when we had coffee at the famous Brasseri Lipp, from where the Arab leader Mehdi Ben Barka was eloped during mid-sixties.
In 2001, while two of my students were editing a Festscript, i.c. a felicitation volume for me Loic Moreau again expressed his deep friendship for me and for my country with a memorable short article. It is indeed something to remember. Also, because I have had a successful academic life since 1957 in the University of Dhaka when I started learning French and then from 1959 in Paris at the Sorbonne and till today in 2017.
I could study, read and write in French language, literature and culture. I taught so many students in the universities of Chittagong, Rajshahi and Jahangirnagar. I am happy that I could do something for France with my publications as they had contributed a lot for me and for my country. n
(Dr Qureshi lived nearly a decade in Paris during the sixties and was the first Bengali teacher of Bengali at the Sorbonne. Former Director General of the Bengali Academy, he was conferred with four French titles including Legion d' Honneur)

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