Farzeen Huq is my friend from Holy Cross school days, 1970 to be exact. We were catching up in London where she lives, I admired her beautiful garden and every corner of her home had an exquisite piece of furniture which caught my fancy. I was curious to know where she had bought them from. "You want to know?" she said, "Look at this piece, this one I bought for five pounds". "Five pounds?" I was shocked, my face showed that expression, mouth agape. "Ha ha, not like it looks now, it was a junk, as I was driving I stopped at the red lights and I spotted this piece of furniture in a second hand goods shop and I indicated to the seller to bring it to my car and handed out the money, before the red light turned green and I got honks from the cars behind, or the cops come to give me a ticket!", said Farzeen.
"Then I stayed up nights, fixing broken bits, sanding it down, dyeing, varnishing, getting it shipshape to turn it into what it is today." I am now really fascinated, "and the other pieces, you must have bought them from antique shops?"
"Yes indeed, this 8x5 feet period furniture (Henri IV) is called a French Oak Buffet on which I passionately laboured away for something like 100 hours over a period of months."
Amazing, my friend is a Consultant Clinical Psychologist and works as the Clinical Lead for a Specialist Personality Disorder Service in St. George's Hospital, London. She regularly visits Dhaka University and in her attempt to transfer knowledge she has been teaching Psychological Therapies (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and Dialectical Behaviour Therapy) to students and teachers at the University. It is usually summer when she teaches her modules; she has no time to meet up with her friends, but goes back with a deep sense of satisfaction from contributing a little to her motherland.
A beautiful Tanpura lies at the corner of her room. Farzeen and her sister Nazmeen used to train in Tagore songs, when we were students and we have spent many evenings in the company of Sadi Mohammad, the renowned Tagore exponent who also taught her sister. Farzeen's father Syed Mujibul Huq was a die-hard Tagore fan, and has published English translations of some of his favourite Tagore songs. Her mother Habiba Huq now aged 88 can still sing Tagore songs beautifully in tune. Farzeen carved out time to do a B Mus degree in Rabindra Sangeet in London with Prantik (affiliated with Dokhini School of Music, Kolkata).
Her daughter Naomi Laskar is a Surgeon, and son Shayan is working as a Telecommunications Engineer. She once tripped over a tin of paint, whilst trying to paint the ceiling of her house. Her left ear had a big tear which needed suturing, Naomi happened to have her suturing kit with her which she was about to start stitching with but Farzeen shouted out loud for Shayan to come and video the entire scene, which she later shared with us. Farzeen said to me, "who would have the chance to get a cut sutured by their own daughter?" What a zest for life, every bit is to enjoy and she sets that example.
Nashid Kamal is a Professor of Medical Demography, Nazrul exponent and translator.