Youthful Achievers- HSC English 1st Paper Passage

Mohammed Ahsan

 Unit Five: Youthful Achievers

Youthful Achievers- HSC English 1st Paper Passage

 Lesson 1 
Sheikh Kamal: Life of an Achiever

Sheikh Kamal's biography:

Born: 5 August 1949

Died: 15 August 1975

Father: Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman

Mother: Bangamata Sheikh Fazilatunnesa Mujib

Siblings: Sheikh Hasina

Sheikh Jamal

Sheikh Rehana

Sheikh Runnel

Spouse: Sultana Kamal

Sheikh Kamal, the eldest son of Bangabandhu Skeikh Mujibur Rahman and Bangamata Fazilatunness Mujib, was born at Tungipara in Gopalganj district. He spent his childhood there. Kamal received his secondary education at Dhaka's BAF Shaheen School from where he passed his SSC examination. He was then admitted to Dhaka College, and after his HSC examination he became a student at the department of Sociology of Dhaka University. Kamal had a colorful life marked by liveliness and creativity. Besides his academic studies, he also pursued his passion for sports and cultural activities. He was a first division basketball and cricket player as well as a sports organizer. He was also interested in classical music, and became a student of Chhayanaut to learn Sitar under the tutelage of Ustad Ful Mohammad. Apart from Sitar, Kamal had a passion for Piano. He had a good collection of musical instruments on the second floor of their house at Dhanmondi, Road no. 32. 

It is well known to his friends that Sheikh Kamal used to begin his day practising the Sitar and during the day played basketball or football or cricket. In the evening he was often seen on stage rehearsing a play. He took part in stage performance of Kabar written by prominent playwright Shaheed Munir Chowdhury. Kamal wasone of the founders of Dhaka Theatre. He was also a founder of Spondon Shilpi Gosthi - a cultural organization. And who doesn't know that Sheikh Kamal was the founder of Abahoni Krira Chokro that introduced modern football in our country?

There are interesting traits in Kamal's character. He was the eldest son of a Prime Minister and later of a President. Yet, his life was very simple. He didn't take any advantage of his father's name and office. As he loved to spend time with his friends at Tungipara in his childhood, he loved to do the same during his college and university days. Watching good movies with them in Madhumita, Naz, or Balaka cinema hall was also something that he really liked.

Sheikh Kamal knew that there is no shortcut to success. He groomed himself up as a young man who earned success by dint of perseverance and commitment. When the Pakistan military began its genocide in Bangladesh he joined the liberation war and received military training at Camp Murtee, located at the Himalayan foothills in India. This tall young man who carried himself with dignity and possessed remarkable traits of leadership became the ADC of General Ataul Goni Osmani, the Commander in Chief of Bangladesh Armed Forces during the liberation war. After independence, Sheikh Kamal could easily remain in Bangladesh Army and pass a secure life but he preferred to engage himself in country building and organizing the young forces to that end. Journalist Syed Ishtiaq Reza, in one of his columns "Ekjon Sheikh Kamal" in Bangla Tribune, rightly says that the unique qualities of Sheikh Kamal's character, especially his whole-hearted involvement in sports and culture, are never seen in any son or daughter of any President, Prime Minister or high officials in Bangladesh.

This is unfortunate that just after 10 days of his 26 birthday and only after a month of his marriage with Sultana Kamal, a Dhaka University Blue in athletics, his life was cut short by a group of cowardly killers. Both he and his wife along with Bangabandhu, Bangamata and most members of their family were assassinated.

Lesson 2  
Affectionate, Lively and Always Smiling Sheikh Kamal

When I first met Sheikh Kamal at the end of 1969, he was already known everywhere in the country as the eldest son of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the undisputed leader of Bengalis, the man we love to think of as Friend of Bengal. I, on the other hand, was the son of middle-class parents and not exceptional in any sense. And yet when I was introduced to him in front of the entry to Kala Bhaban or the Arts Building of the University of Dhaka by a mutual friend, he greeted me with the friendliest of smiles and a warm handshake. He made me feel instantly that I would be his friend!

He was hugely popular in his own right by then. I already knew a lot about him from my Dhanmondi friends. For example, I knew that he was quite good at basketball and cricket, actively interested in music, always lively and full of good spirits. These qualities never deserted him. He was also known to be a tireless organizer-in student politics, of course, but also in the sports and cultural arenas. Although we never met regularly after 1971, he continned to be warm and friendly, whenever we met, inside or outside the university.

Even now I remember vividly a number of occasions when I met him up close. One day, for example, a mutual friend invited a few of us to go to a place 30 miles or so outside Dhaka for a day out. This was also the site of a charitable foundation, a fully-funded school and a medical clinic for the people of the region. In addition, it had a pond and a playing field. On our way to the place and back, everywhere in it and all day long, Kamal was the life of our group. I remember him singing spontaneously every now and then, joking and bursting into laughter often, playing cricket with us full-spiritedly, and showing keen interest in the activities of the foundation, I was reinforced in the belief I had at the end of our first meeting- he had the gift of friendship and I was one of hisfriends. And I could see by the end of the trip that he was good at everything playing cricket, cracking jokes, music, making friends and having a good time!

Kamal, I found out in the next few years, made friends instinctively. But it was also clear he cultivated friends. And so whenever he met, he would seem to go out of his way to greet you before you could greet him. He had a trademark smile, warm and welcoming. Soon, I found out that whenever we were in groups, whether in the Arts building or outside, he would become the life of any group, the center of attention, inevitably and naturally. And yet, when he talked to you, he made you feel that you were important, and worth his company.

In late February 1969 Bangabandhu was released from jail and a month later Ayub Khan was replaced by Yahya Khan, another dictator, but one who was seemingly planning to lay the path down for democracy. This Khan pledged to hold genuine elections to the national as well as the provincial assemblies on the basis of universal suffrage; election fever gripped the country.

One day, Kamal invited me and a few of our friends to accompany him to Savar, where Bangabandhu was scheduled to speak in a couple of public meetings. We agreed readily. Once again, he regaled us on the way and back with his lively presence, chatting, joking and singing. We also had the opportunity to hear Bangabandhu speak on this occasion. With his golden voice, eloquence, gift for rhetoric and making complex things clear with vivid images and passionate arguments, Bangabandhu stirred us all. It was another day with Kamal that I would treasure.

One other day that I will treasure forever was sometime in 1970, when the Bengalees were gearing up for the National Assembly elections. Kamal had taken me and a few other friends to his Road no. 32 house for chatting, or what we in Bangla call adda, when Kamal suddenly had the idea of introducing us to his father. He was in another part of the house with other people, probably discussing election strategy, but he had time to greet us. I remember him waving affectionately, warmth for Kamal's friends written all over his smiling face.

After the war of independence was over, I continued to meet Kamal in the university. But on his return from the army he became busier and busier in politics, while I took to studying seriously and frequenting the library of the University of Dhaka regularly all day long and into early evenings. Nevertheless, even in brief exchanges Kamal, now the son of the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, made me feel that I was close to him, for he would not only exchange pleasantries but would also ask about me caringly and in the friendliestof manner. Friendliness came naturally to Sheikh Kamal and more often than not, he would greet you with a smile before you could do so.

There are two other occasions when I met Sheikh Kamal at this time. In the first, I was among the group of students who had secured the top positions in their Honors class and met Professor Abdul Matin Choudhury, our Vice-Chancellor in his office. The meeting was organized at Kamal's initiative. The idea was that we would find the encounter inspirational and our Vice-Chancellor would get to meet a cross-section of the top performing students of a particular year to hear from them how the university could augment its academic facilities for future students.

The second occasion was in late July 1975 when I was leaving the Arts Building to go to TSC for lunch. As I was about to leave, I saw Kamal coming down from his car to attend classes. As always, he greeted me with his characteristic warm smile and wanted to know where I was heading to. When he found out, he insisted that he dropped me off at TSC, since he still had some minutes before his class. That was typical of Kamal. He was the son of Bangabandhu, the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, and he still had time to spare for a friend!

That was the last time I would see Kamal, for two weeks later he was murdered, along with Bangabandhu and so many other family members. Among the dead was Kamal's wife Sultana, another batch mate, an outstanding athlete and a very attractive person in every way.

All of us were stunned by the events of August 15, 1975. The renegade murderous soldiers had left the nation drift for the immediate future and we had lost the father of our nation. Affectionate, lively and always smiling Kamal would no more greet us, batch mates and make us feel blessed in having him as a friend!

Lesson 3
 Brojen Das: On Conquering the English Channel

Brojen Das was born on 9 December 1927 in Munshiganj. He was a legendary swimmer who became the first person from Asia to swim across the English Channel in 1958. He crossed the channel six times and set a world record in channel swimming in 1961.The government of Bangladesh honoured him with the National Sports award in 1976 and Swadhinata Padak (posthumously) in 1999. He also received the Pride of Performance award in 1959 from the Pakistan government and the King of Channel trophy from UK. Mr Das breathed his last on 1 June 1998. Following is an abridged version of a memoir by Brojen Das in which he gives a captivating account of his record-breaking performance in the English Channel.

I had not failed my country 
Brojen Das

I could hear very faint voices as if coming from the other side of the world. The time was about 4:00 in the morning and the date September 22, 1961. I was feeling tired and exhausted and was encountering stiff opposition from the strong tide. I looked towards my accompanying motorboat carrying my manager Quazi Mohammad Ali, skipper Len Hutchinson and the official observer, Mr. J. U. Wood. They were all pointing towards the Kent shore. As I looked up, I could see flashes. I realized I was very close to the shore.

I asked what the time was and how far I had still to go. They told me that if I put the last ounce of energy into my swimming, I would set a new world record for France to England swim. This electrified me. The goal for which I had been striving for the past four years could be mine. The aim, which goaded me to swim the Channel six times, each time risking my life and reputation, was so close. Yet it could be far

Treachery of Weather
The Channel, with its cold biting water, the winds, the waves and the tides does not make things easier. The unpredictable weather changes for the worse after a swimmer jumps in. It has never, to my knowledge, changed for the better for anyone yet... Apart from stamina and practice of long distance swimming, one must have the grit, determination and courage to subdue the Channel. Weather and ill luck have conspired and joined hands many a time to defeat Channel swimmers. They had defeated me no less than five times....

The final shot
On the morning of 9 September 1961, after finishing my swim, I had gone to bed.The BBC-TV cameramen filmed me in my bed. Although very tired afterswimming for 11 hours and 48 minutes, I could not fall asleep. The thought that Ihad once again failed my country, friends and fans was disturbing me. After only our hours sleep the following night, I decided to try again - for the sixth time...I had fixed the tentative date for September 20. On that day I took the ferry to Calais.

Sea Sick
I get sea-sick in the ferry and also during swimming if there are breakers or waves. This sea-sickness was the main cause of my failure to set a world record on September 8/9 or even in 1960. The night rest at the Cap Gris Nez hotel did me immense good. I felt on top of the world. The weather on September 21 was near perfect. I jumped into the water within 12 days of my 5th swim, a record in itself, after saying a little prayer, asking God to give me good weather all through and to crown me with success. Nearly the whole of Cap Gris Nez village had turned out to wish me luck and see me enter the water for the sixth time....

Plunge And After
Once in water, you get oblivious of time, distance or direction. The only thought which kept me worried, was that I must make it and that I must get good weather all the way. The second half of the swim is always very difficult. And if even little waves develop, it saps the ebbing energy of the swimmer all the more. Taking a lesson from my previous swims I kept my speed at a steady pace for I knew I would need every ounce of my energy towards the close....
I felt hungry and famished and shouted for my manager. In reply, I was told that I could not afford to waste 10 minutes in having the feed! If I have to break the record, I must swim on with all my might. But I refused...I am sorry now for it. For if I had gone on, I might have finished the whole swim in less than 10 hours and 15 minutes creating a new world record from both sides....

Last Efforts
After the feed I really got my teeth into the strokes.... I was squeezing my body for the last drop of energy I could get out of it.... and edged on inch by inch. The people in the motorboat were cheering me. I saw the flash on the Kent shore very clearly. I realized I was very close. I could see the record, like the proverbial carrot, dangling before my swollen eyes....

I kept pulling myself on ... a little more, just a little more... the momentum was building up- then I felt rocks, sharp and craggy... Then a big rock appeared before me. And that was it....the shore it was...the time: 4.35 a.m. GMT: I had broken the world record by 15 minutes. I thanked God for fulfilling my life's ambition. Then I remembered my parents. I had not failed my country.

Lesson 4 
Scaling a Mountain Peak or Riding Your Dream?

Nishat Mazumder, a Bangladeshi woman in her early forties, is a sports icon. She comes of a modest background; her father is a businessman and her mother is a housewife. She is the second of four siblings. She is not very tall or well built, or does not have a charming princess look; but this apparently ordinary girl has three things that she can be proud of. These are: she has extraordinarily supportive parents who accepted her dreams as real; her father was a freedom fighter in the Liberation War of Bangladesh in 1971, and she scaled the highest peak in the world as the first Bangladeshi girl in 2012. Nishat's life presents an inspirational story that the youth in Bangladesh needs to know.

Nishat was born on 5 January 1981 in a village called Teori, which is situated in Ramganj upazila in Lakshmipur District. She completed her schooling from Bottomley Home Girls' High School in 1997, and passed HSC from Shahid Anwar Girls' College in 1999. She earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in Accounting from Dhaka City College, and currently works for Dhaka WASA as an accountant. She is also interested in different languages and cultures of the world, and has enrolled for her MA in Japan Studies at Dhaka University. For us, Nishat's life comes across as especially significant because it tells us how the influence of one person can motivate someone to dream big. As the daughter of a freedom fighter, Nishat had to face many obstacles in her life, but her mother, her role model, gave her courage and determination to overcome them and pursue her dreams. AshuraMazumder, Nishat's mother, is a hardworking and understanding woman, who has been a pillar of support for her family in the direst of situations. Nishat learned from her mother how to keep mental strength in calamitous moments of life. Learning from her, Nishat began her dream of conquering mountains.

Have you heard of Superman, and the Hollywood film showing his adventures? Christopher Reeve, the actor who played the role of Superman in the film said in a speech he gave at the Democratic National Convention in 1996 - "So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable." This has happened in Nishat's life too. Though she had a long cherished dream to be a mountaineer, it was not until 2003 that she could climb the 967 feet high Keokradong. The climbing event was organized on 29 May, 2003 to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay's conquest of Mount Everest. Nishat had walked the streets of Dhaka with a 15 kg backpack for three consecutive days to make her body ready for the climb before the real expedition. Factors like chance, dedication and creating opportunities are important for anyone's success, but a sportsperson should also have discipline and perseverance to succeed. Institutional and professional trainings are also necessary. Nishat joined Bangladesh Mountaineering and Trekking Club (BMTC) in 2006, and completed a basic training course at Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, Darjeeling, India in 2007. After that she scaled peaks in the Himalayan range one after another, joining several teams from Bangladesh. Today we have a mountain peak in the Himalayas, the Nepal-Bangladesh Friendship Peak, so named because mountaineers from the two friendly countries jointly climbed it for the first time. Nishat's team was led by M.A. Mohit, who has been on top of Everest and quite a few other peaks higher than 8000 meters.

In Bangladesh, mountaineering is a new sport activity, and we are yet to develop a culture that will encourage a woman's mountaineering activities. Nishat took the challenge, and she was supported by her parents. This is an expensive sport, and Nishat and other mountaineers could not have succeeded if several organizations did not help them. Nishat was an ambassador of "Because I am a Girl" campaign of Plan International's Bangladesh chapter in her expedition to Mount Everest in 2012. She wanted to leave a message for all people of Bangladesh that a girl can do anything a boy can do, and hence every girl should have support from her parents and society in every challenging activity.

Lesson 5 
The Unbeaten Girls

In a traditional society like ours, little boys and girls are given separate sets of toys. While toys for boys include cars, guns or footballs, girls have to be satisfied with dolls (often Barbie dolls) and doll-houses or miniature cooking utensils. The underlying assumption is that boys are active and full of vigour, but girls are naive and lack the intelligence or energy to match their male counterparts.

This false assumption has been shattered plenty of times in the recent decades as girls began to show their power and women began competing with men in almost all areas of life. It has been conclusively proved wrong most recently by the girls of Kalsindur, a village in a remote area in Dhobaura upazila in Mymensingh district. The villagers are mostly low-income but hardworking people. Even a few years ago, there was no electricity in the village. But some girls have illuminated the village - both literally and metaphorically-with their belief in themselves and their skill in the game of football. The village has emerged now as a footballer factory and a symbol of girl power. And in recognition of their success, the village was provided electricity by the government.

Sabina Akhter, Sanjida Akhter (7th under 16 promising female player of Asia in 2014), Shiuli Azim, Mariya Manda (Captain, Under 15 Female Football Team 2017), Shamsunnahar senior (who scored the solitary goal against India which ensured SAFF Under 15 Women Championship in 2017), Shamsunnahar junior (Captain of Under 15 National Football Team 2019), Tahura Khatun (who scored 40 goals in international Tahura Khatun matches till 2021), Marzia Khatun, Mahmuda Khatun, Nazma Akhter, Sajeda Akhter, Rozina Khatun, Taniya Akhter, Rupa Akhter, Kalpana Akhter, Purnima Vaskar are names of some bright stars in Bangladesh Women's National Football Team. They all are from Kalsindur village. Their talent and determination have brought them to where they are now.

While in Kalsindur Government Primary School the girls had a hat-trick record of the championship in Bangamata Begum Fazilatunnesa Mujib Gold Cup Primary School Football Tournament in 2013, 2014 and 2015. After completing primary education they moved on to Kalsindur Secondary School. While there, they became four-time champions in the National Summer Sports Competition for Schools, Madrasas and Technical institutions in 2014, 2015, 2017 and 2019. Kalsindur girls also clinched the Girls' Football Championship in Inter-College (UMA) Games and Sports Competition in 2019-20.

The Bangladesh girls' football team won the AFC Under 14 Regional Football Championship 2015 in Nepal and the team was dominated by Kalsindur footballers. Do you know the team that won the championship in AFC Under 14 Regional Football Tournament 2016 in Tajikistan also had eight Kalsindur girls including the captain and the highest scorer? Bangladesh National Women's Football Team was champion in Hong Kong Under-15 Women's Jockey Cup and Kalsindur girls led the match. They also proved themselves when Bangladesh shared championship jointly with Laos in the 1st Bangamata International Under-19 Woman Tournamant in 2019. Who could even think that these girls would seize the the 1st SAFF under-18 Women Championship in Bhutan in 2018, remaining unbeaten? The whole nation was so overwhelmed at their success that the Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina, gave them a warm reception at Ganabhaban where Tahura (the highest scorer in the tournament) along with her comrades requested her to nationalize their secondary school and the desire was fulfilled immediately.

The success of Kalsindur girls reads like an epic. They started their journey with practically nothing. They didn't have any boots or jerseys to wear. Initially, they played wearing salwar and kamij. They also suffered from malnutrition. What made them win against all adversities then? What was the magic behind? Mohammad Mafiz Uddin was an assistant teacher at Kalsindur Government Free Primary School where Minati Rani Sheel was the head teacher. They observed the girls' interests in football and decided to help. It was however not that easy. Girls playing football is still not a common picture in Bangladesh. Guardians were not convinced as they were used to seeing girls helping mothers with household chores. A farmer, an auto-rickshaw driver, a tea-shop owner or a housemaid mother couldn't be that ambitious either. But Minati Rani Sheel and Mohammad Mafiz Uddin persuaded them to allow their daughters to play. Being great motivators, the two teachers supported the girls in their effort to overcome the odds. They inspired them, created opportunities for them and took personal care of them. Soon the girls could prove themselves, shaking off their inhibition. Their success has also persuaded the villagers to come to their support.

When the girls moved to the nearby secondary school and college, they did not have their Minati Maam and Mafiz Uddin Sir with them, but soon another motherly person offered her helping hand - Mala Rani Sarkar, an Assistant Professor of History - who was joined by one of her colleagues, Juel Mia. They agreed to coach the girls. Mr Jalaluddin, who was then the head teacher of the school, also supported them. Gradually the local community, public representatives and the local administration came forward. Bangladesh Football Federation also gave special attention to them and finally another football magician, Golam Robbani Choton, the coach of the Bangladesh Women's National Football Team, mentored these girls and helped them become complete professional footballers.

Now people realise what their golden girls could bring for them. "When these girls go from one place to another, even the auto-rickshaw pullers don't take any fare from them as they are the pride of the village. It's a small token of recognition but it's great!," says Mala Rani Sarkar, the Team Manager of Kalisindur Women's Football Team. She also adds that Kalsindur would present more female footballers in future, as of 2021 they are grooming another 65 girls to play for the nation.

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