Opinion: How can one kill a teacher?
When somebody dies, how many ways does s/he still remain alive in? People say the person remains alive in the memories of the near and dear ones. Some say they remain alive in the names of the descendants. Science says they remain on the surface of the world in another form of matter.
But what happens when a teacher dies? A teacher who dedicated his whole life towards educating people, somebody whose vocation and profession, both were teaching, who enlightened every student in his teaching career of 33 years with his vast possession of knowledge?
How do you kill somebody whose rigid honesty, empathy, great ideology and the strength and spirit to live by the ideology play great roles in shaping the lives of every student he ever taught? How do you kill somebody who runs in the blood of all the English Department students of Rajshahi University since 1983?
Prof AFM Rezaul Karim Siddiquee, known as RKS to his students, was brutally killed by still unknown assailants in the morning of Saturday while awaiting transport to go to his workplace like every other day of the last 33 years.
All his students, family members and colleagues are in the dark about why he was killed in this manner. What possible reasons, if those can be termed reasons at all, can there be behind the killing of one of the most peace-loving persons all his students have ever known? Is it some kind of dirty politics beyond the understanding of general people like me? Was the loss of this sage-like persona just a collateral damage in the way of the establishment of some kind of greater anarchy? Was it a crime in the name of religion? Do the human (!) beings responsible behind the killing even care about what ideology RKS upheld? What he stood for? Let alone care, do they even understand?
The loss is very big and too personal for us to be able to allow the thought of the gruesome act being a collateral damage. We cannot understand the plans of the very powerful, omniscient-like--political or not--minds behind the killings. They are so powerful that we cannot know when and where we will or our families be killed for upholding what belief or not giving in to whose belief.
But if our dearest RKS was killed to eradicate the things off the surface of the world he stands for then I will boldly claim they have been unsuccessful. As I said before, RKS runs in the blood of his students. We uphold the ideology he taught us, not by preaching but just by being the way he was.
He taught us how down-to-earth a genius like him can be. He was as realistic as he was humanistic and sanguine. Very few people knew that he donated 80 percent of the total expense for the construction of a mosque in his village, Dorgamaria. He was a sportsperson in his student life and always used to motivate his students. So many times has he donated money from his own pocket instead of waiting for the department to allocate fund for sports equipments that everybody took it for granted that the money would come from him. During my six-year studentship at the university, I have seen him attending every sports event when our department had some sort of participation, in sun and rain. One would often find the window of his little chamber on the first floor of Shahidullah Arts building open and music flowing from there. His students, who were involved in different cultural activities, had free access to that room so they can use it for rehearsal purposes at any time. We have seen him organising “Borsha Utsab” , “Bosonto Utsab” for students in the open when practically nobody else cared, when various crimes and hartals made Rajshahi city and the university campus untraversable. He taught us the right way to be run by passion. He taught us how to remain honest to ourselves. His humility brought him so close to us that he became a friend, who all of his students love rather than a teacher who we fear.
The few thousand students of his will never forget what we learned from him, not just by attending his classes but just by observing the way of his living. Many of his students – at least 50 percent – are teachers in profession who now constantly consciously or unconsciously teach their hundreds and thousands of students the same ideology RKS taught us. The influence of this great man upon this world will never die out. It is never ending.
Then how do you kill a teacher who lives in thousands of minds?
The least we deserve is justice. His family, his students and his colleagues. We did not deserve to lose him like this. He was nothing to the killers who did not take even a minute to put an end to the life of this man. But he was everything to us. We will never again hear him giving lectures in the class. Teaching, A Streetcar Named Desire or his favorite, Robert Browning. I can still hear him read from Long Day’s Journey Into Night. I can still see him sitting on the table with his feet dangling above the floor. How he used to lose track of time and the teacher of the next period had to wait outside for him to realise that his 45-minutes class period is over. How he sometimes used to decide not to switch off the fan, which he often used to do to make us hear him clearly, as Rajshahi heat was particularly unbearable that day. How he used to get furious when the department’s laptop or the projector did not work properly as he arranged shows for his students of movies like “Bicycle Thieves” and Satyajit’s “Charulota”. I can still see him covering any and every cultural event arranged by the students with the ancient camera of his.
Do the people who killed him think it is this easy to wipe away such a man, such a character from this world? The self-made man trying to shape the nation through his students everyday for the last 33 years can’t simply be killed.
Since we cannot get him back, the least we deserve is justice.