Maswood Alam Khan from Maryland, USA
Al Yasa Iffat of Kodalia Government Primary School in Sadar Upazilla of Tangail stood first among all the students who have passed the recently introduced Primary Education Terminal Examinations in Bangladesh. As I was reading today’s newspapers online the pleasant story of Iffat warmed the cockles of my heart and I wished I could embrace the boy tightly close to my chest.
I was staring at the cherubic face of Iffat when a procession of the talents who I met in my lifetime appeared vividly in my mind. But, as I was reflecting on how those talents who had excelled in their schools are now faring I felt down because most of those talents who once had captured the hearts and minds of the past generations are not behaving the way they used to behave in their school days. The irony is that a majority of those talents today are not leading an ideal life and quite a number of them are reportedly pretty corrupt, both financially and intellectually. Of course, there are talents who are maintaining throughout their life their ideals in the teeth of corrupt environments. They number among the best assets in Bangladesh, but they are few in number. They are silent and suppressed; they are not allowed to speak out.
Only child of Zakaria Haider, an assistant education officer, and housewife Fahmida Chowdhury, Al Yasa Iffat was overwhelmed with joy after learning about his top position in the exam, his maiden appearance in a public exam he will remember throughout his academic career.
In reply to the question of a journalist “What are you aiming at?” Iffat answered: “I want to be a physician and if my dream ever comes true, I as a doctor will treat the deprived people for free”.
Such a statement from a young boy or a girl that s/he would dedicate his or her life to serve the humanity has become a cliché in our society. Because the young person who cherishes a lofty ideal in his childhood will find himself as ‘an odd man out’ when he will discover that the society where he has been raised in is infested with the corrupt and he will have to jettison all his principles and ideals in order to follow the crowd for his survival.
James Allen, a British philosophical writer, once said: “He who cherishes a beautiful vision, a lofty ideal in his heart, will one day realise it”. Allen’s statement would have been more prophetic, especially in Bangladesh, if he would have added to his saying an adjunct: “provided he is nurtured in a society where leaders are not greedy and corrupt”.