Language movement veteran and education luminary Zahir Uddin Ahmed, now aged 86, continues to serve people with his knowledge in herbal medicine.
A resident of Nawdabansh village, in Mahendranagar union of Sadar upazila, Zahir is a person in whom people from surrounding villages put their trust when they fall sick with common illnesses.
Zahir was born on March 23, 1935 to farmer parents. He took part in the Language Movement of 1952 when he was a tenth grader at Lalmonirhat High School. He passed Intermediate from Carmichael College in 1956.
During the Liberation War of 1971, Zahir played a key role in organising the fight for the country's freedom.
Zahir helped establish three educational institutions in the area -- Burirkura Primary School, Barbari High School and Khedabagh Dakhil Madrasa.
Since his school days, Zahir had a knack for medicinal plants and he has been growing many of the plants around his house. Presently, he has archived details of about 155 species of different medicinal plants.
In 1993, he was conferred the title 'Ayurveda Teertha' by Bangladesh Ayurveda Board in recognition for his knowledge in Ayurveda -- a traditional system of medicine.
Zahir provides free herbal remedies to people suffering from various illnesses including headache, common cold and fever. For more complicated diseases, he charges a nominal fee.
Mahir Uddin, a senior citizen from the same village, said people in the area and even from distant villagers come to language hero Zahir Uddin whenever they fall sick with ordinary illnesses.
Zahir's wife Jamila Khatun, 75, who is mother of their four sons and four daughters, said that ever since she married him, she has been seeing her husband helping others with herbal remedies.
Their livelihood depends on agriculture, but Zahir has a passion for collecting medicinal plants from bushes and jungles even when he goes to visit a relative or friend, she added.
In conversation with this correspondent, Zahir said he conducted some research on treating different types of cancers with herbal medicines and he would like his research to be recognised by appropriate authorities in the field.
He also said it has been his lifelong dream that the government would come forward and help him set up a fully-fledged Ayurvedic hospital in his village. "I want to keep working for the welfare of the people as long as I live. I enjoy life better when I serve the people and it is my ultimate love."