MNA Feature Desk: One year has passed since veteran journalist of the country Anis Ahmed left this world. His first death anniversary will be observed on July 2, 2019. Along with being an honest, knowledgeable and dynamic journalist, he was known for many qualities among his peers, friends and family. He had significant contribution in shaping up the journalism career of many successful journalists of today. To many, he was a mentor not only as a senior journalist but also as a philosopher as well as possessor of real humane characteristics. He was my father – a great pride of my life and I started writing due to his inspiration.
I had the opportunity to see him both in his professional and personal life. It was not easy to know him deeply as he was an introvert soul and hopefully I was at the best position to really know him. I have not written anything on my father till today and I felt in debt as I did not express my understanding of him in words – the words which he loved the most and I would like to take this opportunity to express my experience with him on the first anniversary of my greatest loss which trembled my world along with many.
Anis Ahmed was born on Dec 5, 1954 at Shahbazpur of Nabinagar upazila of BrahmanBaria district. His father was a school teacher and mother was a housewife. Among 4 sisters and two brothers, he was the eldest. After passing SSC from Shyamgram Mohini Kishore High School, he got admitted at Dhaka College and passed his HSC from there. He joined the Department of Political Science at Dhaka University to complete his higher education.
During the early 1970s, he joined country’s national news agency Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS) as sub-editor. On his journey as a journalist, he had the opportunity to work closely with eminent journalists like Ataus Samad, Ahmed Humayun, Gias Kamal Chowdhury and many others. Soon he received acclamation for his works and was recruited by Reuters as correspondent. Later he became bureau chief of Reuters’ Dhaka bureau. During his over 30 years of service in Reuters, he served as the bureau chief for around 25 years. Upon retiring from Reuters, he joined The Daily Star as consultant and also worked for The Asian Age as its editor for a while. Later he joined the Daily Observer as Executive Editor and served the office even the day before his death.
He died on July 2, 2018 at his Mohammadpur residence due to heart failure after suffering from cardio vascular diseases and kidney diseases for a while. He was well known among the journalist community as an honest, unbiased and sincere professional. His amicable nature made him everyone’s favorite. He wrote thousands of reports, columns and analysis throughout his illustrious career. Current affairs and social issues became alive in his writings. Many of his features were published in different international newspapers and magazines with utmost significance. He can be termed as one of the most successful journalists of the country and he achieved that position with some certain values and codes.
As we become adult, we all get into a profession but there are very few who actually loves the profession and Anis Ahmed was one of them. He never went along with journalism only as a job rather it was his passion. He was a hardworking person. Even in poor health, he never compromised his works. As a son, I have seen him working even at hospital bed. It was not that the office will hold him responsible for not doing the works rather it was because he was very honest to his profession. He was always very punctual and committed to his office and remained same till the end of his life.
I, along with my mother and sister, watched him pursuing many challenging and even life threatening assignments with a shining face. Once he went deep into Chittagong hill tracts on an assignment and when he returned after few days, we found six leeches on his legs bursting with sucked blood. He carried them back from the hills,. It would easily make anyone afraid but he was smiling as we were struggling to get those off his legs and when asked he replied that, those leeches were the proof of a very successful mission. He loved those challenging assignments but due to physical deterioration, he had to restrain himself from pursuing such missions at a point but was always committed and passionate to the thrill of the profession.
Throughout his professional career, Anis Ahmed remained unbiased to any political parties or groups or people. It was a commendable characteristic of him which made him different from most of the people. As his son, I knew that he was in support to some sides but when it came to his profession, he never brought in his preferences. Truth was safe in his writings. Many of his peers mentioned this quality in him to be unique. Honesty in his personal life reflected in his works too. He always stayed away for professional politics. Unfortunately, he could not mix up with the ongoing flow of blind biasness for self-benefit, which is very common is today’s world as well as in today’s journalism, due to his uncompromising nature and remained in purity till the end of his life.
One thing that amazed me about my father was his clear understanding of situations and happenings. I had long discussion with him over different national and international issues at home, office or in the car on the way to our workplace. Many complex scenarios were clearly explained by him very easily. Though people had different anticipations over some ongoing events, I found on several occasions that the final outcome was exactly like what my father said. He was never carried away with emotions while analyzing a situation. I have heard from many of his colleagues that they often got astonished over his analysis of an ongoing event and they frequently visited him for the insights. Today I seriously miss those analyses of my father where I find none parallel to him.
Anis Ahmed was very humble and amicable in nature. Whenever someone visited him, he welcomed him with a big smile irrespective of his social status or financial condition even during his busy times. He was friendly to everyone. When he shook hands, he used to hold the hand tight which somehow expressed his cordial and jovial attitude. He could remain calm in very difficult times. There were few instances when we faced great turbulence but he was like ‘ironman’ in those situations.
In his personal life, Anis Ahmed was very down to earth. One thing he loved more than his profession was his village. As he passed his childhood in his native village, he always kept that place in his heart. He always wished to return to his village after his retirement but due to his physical condition, we could never encourage him to do so. Whenever possible, he tried to engage himself in the development of his village. Due to his efforts, several roads were built surrounding our village Shahbazpur, which drastically changed the economic and livability scenario of that place. He also had huge contribution in renovation of the village graveyard, afforestation alongside the roads – for which the fellow villagers still remain grateful to him. He had found his final resting place close to his village people as we buried him in our village graveyard according to his wish beside his parents and paternal grandparents.
Anis Ahmed was a very kind and generous man. He had significant contribution in construction of many mosques and madrasas. He helped many financially or by helping them getting employed. Many of these works of him was not known to us till his death but we got informed by those who were benefitted afterwards. The stories of his generosity only made us prouder of being the children of a great man.
As a father, he was very friendly, caring, patient and supportive. Though due to his busy schedule, we did not get huge time to spend with him, we never had to look for him in our time of need – he was always there. He never failed to give us a comfortable life. He was always like an umbrella over the heads of his wife, children, brothers and sisters. He loved spending times with us especially with his two grandchildren. He was a complete family man indeed. At the night of his death, I came late from office. Though he was seriously sick, he called me several times to check if I have reached. Now, I really miss that concern from my father.
Anis Ahmed, my father, was a great storyteller. It is very hard to find a more amusing storyteller than him. I personally was a fan of his stories and I often pushed him to tell an old story again and again. 365 days have passed as I did not hear any stories from my father. He had not embraced me for a year, had not called me or had not touched me. It is very hard to believe that he is no more – and I will never be able to convey him my love or respect.
It is very hard to explain Anis Ahmed in a single article. Many said that, the journalism community will face a great loss upon his death – true may be but me and my family members are really shattered as without him we feel like in an open field during thunderstorm without any shade over our heads. We miss him a lot like he is missed by hundreds of trees he planted at his village home. I regret not expressing my love or respect to him properly as I only pray for his soul to rest in eternal peace. May Allah grant him jannah. One day, we will meet again and I have lot to tell you, father.
The writer is Associate Editor at Mohammadi News Agency (MNA) and Kishore Bangla