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    Volume 9 Issue 14| April 2, 2010|

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From Gabon to America - Mandela to Obama

Shudeepto Ariquzzaman

Emdadul Haque

November 27, 1998. A letter from President Nelson Mandela, the legendary iconic leader of the anti-Apartheid movement expresses profound regrets for not being able to attend his 28th wedding anniversary owing to his busy schedule. The great leader also expresses his sympathies for his fellow countrymen devastated by the recent floods.

A printed letter from late King Hussein I, the leader of Jordan also lies on his table. The monarch conveys his gratitude for enquiring about his health and assures the gentleman that he is recovering quite well. Unfortunately the monarch was wrong as he died next year.

The gentleman to whom the mail has been issued is pleased but not surprised. Earlier there have been similar messages from President Bill Clinton, glad to be congratulated on his electoral victory and expresses his best wishes for the gentleman and his family.

So who is this person getting letters from VIPs all over the world? He must be a really big shot in this developing country to enjoy the acquaintance of such important international personalities. While prime ministers and presidents spend sleepless nights trying to get into the good graces of US presidents or sovereigns of absurdly oil rich states, this gentleman on the other hand seems to get mail from the likes of Bill Clinton and now President Barack Obama. What does the new President have to tell him? His concerns for the new health care reforms to be introduced in USA are appreciated and his participation in such matters is longed-for. Earlier when Obama was making his historic speech in Cairo with the intention of bridging gaps with the Muslim world; he was too busy to communicate with this gentleman himself. But the senior adviser to the President found some time to send a personal message-- his letter opined that Muslims had a great contribution to the success of America.

The owner of these exalted messages is not a multi-billionaire with extremely good connections but a farmer hailing from an obscure Natore village. He is also a part time tutor. But when he is not farming or teaching, Emdadul Haque is communicating with world leaders.

The truth is that the gentleman with the honour of receiving letters and mails from so many world leaders is just an ordinary citizen. What distinguishes him is his rather unusual hobby- he writes letters to world leaders.

Letter from King Hussein I

It all began long time ago in 1973. The President of Gabon, Omar Bongo had converted to Islam. Haque decided it would not be a bad idea to write a letter of appreciation to President Bongo. Surprisingly he even received an answer from the President. Ever since, for the last 37 years, Emdadul Haque has been writing letters to statesmen from different countries. Of course he does not always receive answers, but as mentioned earlier, some of the world's most famous statesmen have communicated with him. Haque's imaginative use of his pastime might not have made him a rich man. He is desperately poor, lives in a cottage, suffers from respiratory problems and heart disease, and had to endure the miserable fate of a man whose wife died five months ago because he could not afford proper treatment. The curse of poverty however has not dampened Haque's relentless pursuit of his hobby. The pursuit of his hobby has been deemed as creative by some, eccentric by others, and sometimes simply considered as ridiculous. However, judgements by others have not deterred Haque's personal interests. For him this uncommon hobby is not just a pastime, it is his life, almost a religion.


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