I could not remain beside him
Mazeda Begum (Mrs. Tofazzal Hossain) :
I came to know after going the statement of Sadri Ispahani published in The Daily Ittefaq on the June 8th (1969) that my husband has breathed his last without any treatment, nourishment and none of his dear and near ones were present in his bed side. In a helpless condition he embraced the death. So there arises questions and suspicion centering his death. He intended to remain a few days more in Pindi and he trunk called me to accompany him in Pindi. Crossing a long distance I reached him. I don't know whether he was prepared to accept this consequence in his unconscious mind. I reached there, but did not remain beside him in the last moment. What unlucky I was, how it can be explained to you.
I reached Pindi on Friday. Descending from the plane I noticed that he along with his friends waiting in the Airport for receiving me. He came forward with a smile and asked me, is there any good news of Dhaka? Then we reached the Flashman Hotel, where he was staying. Next day at 9 a.m he took me with him for sight-seeing. In the meantime he purchased some dress and he chosed all the items for his grandsons and daughters. The moments were wonderful and he was very jolly in his words and deeds. It was seemed that staying a few days in Pindi he was recovered more than before. In the meantime he finished his lunch and was taking rest in the hotel room. In the afternoon we went again outside the hotel for roaming Islamabad and purchased a few items. Always he was talking and discussing with me about the situation of the West Pakistan. He was also talking about his sons and daughters and grandsons also. He told me, Sunday we shall go to visit Murree and on Monday we shall return back to Dhaka.
At night we took our dinner and prepared ourselves for sleeping. In the meantime he was going through newspapers and he spent half an hour for reading. Then he offed the switch and went to bed. It was eleven at night. Suddenly the telephone was ringing. Hearing the sound he took the telephone receiver in a drowsy mood. I asked him who has called ? He replied 'Shoud. They are waiting for me.' Shoud or Sadri-What was the name he mentioned I was confused. It may be Shoud but I may heard wrong. He got up from the bed and prepared himself to go outside in a hurry. Is there any car, I asked him. In reply to my question he told, car will be available, destination is not far away. He did not take me with him. I was waiting for his return back and thinking he will come back soon. But who knows it was his last good bye! I was waiting and counting down time for his coming back, at that moment telephone rang up and on the other side of the telephone somebody told in Bengali, "I am Shoud speaking. Again I was confused that whether Shoud or Sadri was speaking. It was Shoud but I might heard wrong. Leave it, from the other side of the telephone it was told that, 'Manik Bhai feeling ill. Would you come? I replied, How I alone can come, sent a car. But where he was staying, it was unknown to me. I was then walking in the corridor and losing strength of my feet for unknown fear. After a while a driver came with a car and got up into the car. I guessed that our destination is known to the driver, who has sent him to carry me. But after a while he asked me in Urdu, Where I shall move? When I heard this question I became puzzled. I asked him, Who has sent you ? He replied, Ispahani Shaheb has sent me. When I heard the name Ispahani became more worried because as if I heard the name 'Shoud' in the telephone conversation. Driver was unable to follow my Bengali speaking. I was also unable to understand his Urdu language. Then I told the driver to go back to the 'Flashman Hotel'. After arriving the hotel I requested hotel authority to arrange a Bengali speaking boy who can understand me and communicate with others. They arranged a boy and with the help of him of I came to know that the telephone call came from The Hotel Intercontinental. Then we straightly reached the Hotel Intercontinental. But in the hotel lobby I did not find anybody waiting for me. Then I entered inside the hotel and saw the reception room and went there and asked them, Where is Ittefaq Editor Manik Mia? Tell me the room number where he is suffering from illness. I did not get any accurate information from them. The Bengali speaking boy was with me. At that moment I remembered that Ataur Rahman Shaheb was staying in the East Pakistan House. I decided to go there and collecting the room number of Ataur Rahman Shaheb from the reception and went to his room and awaked him from sleep and requested him to accompany me. He was also confused about the destination. Then I told him, as the telephone call came from The Intercontinental Hotel then let us go there. Reaching there we found a gentleman who asked me, Are you Mrs. Manik Mia? Yes, I replied, then with the help of him I and Ataur Rahman Shaheb went to the room of Sadri Spahani. Entering his room I found everything is finished. My husband is sleeping and his body is covered with white clothes. His sleep will never break and he will never response to anybody's call. I was trembling and sat down beside his dead body and remained silent.
A lot of memories flashed on my mind, when he felt uneasy for simple headache, he became worried and eager to get my nourishment and required medicine for quick relief. My husband, that great soul breathed his last alone in the bed !
To avoid loneliness he arranged to keep me in his bed side and accordingly I went Pindi from Dhaka, but at the last moment I did not remain beside him. Who did the wrong, who will be blamed for the fault, what are the answers of these questions?
The medicine which was prescribed by Doctor Rab kept with me and took it to Pindi. At the last moment he was helplessly looking around, he might looking for me, because I always provided him the required medicines, he always relieved from suffering of pain. But at the last moment, that chance I did not get.
Those who were in the room beside his dead body, all of them left the room one by one. Rest of the night I remained alone beside the dead body.
What happened centering this fanciful man I could not witness that because I did not remain his bed side. Though I was very near to him, only a way of two minutes. I have no place to put my sufferings. I passed my family life with this capricious man. He always remained busy with outside job and all the family burdens and responsibilities were beared by me. When I opposed to bear the burden he told me, what is greater, the country or family ? You look after my family, let me think about the country : I did not like to create any obstruction in his lifestyle. Is it the consequence of that sacrifice ?
During his life time I have to bear all sorts of responsibilities and when he left the world shifted all the burden on me. His affectionate sons and daughters have been deprived of seeing their beloved father alive for the last time and they will again deprived to see their father's dead body if I denied to be the custodian of the dead body. I passed the night without any sleep. I brought the dead body of my husband from Pindi to Dhaka and handed over it to them who were his most affectionate heirs. For the country and countrymen he chosed the life of a Musafir and that Musafir died in a hotel room of Pindi. Thus his death became meaningful and it might be desired by him.
â€”Translated by Syed Tosharaf Ali
Secretary General, Manik Mia Foundation