Harold Rasheed went to Wales for his schooling, he stayed in a boarding school all his life. He and his wife Shampa Reza were decided that their sons were not to be sent off to boarding schools. With his sister Leapie on board , thus started the school in Sylhet named AnadaNiketan. The students were their two sons, Leapie's daughter and Ryan and Shameem's son Sabeth. By year 2001 Anadaniketan was well established as a school in Sylhet.
Around this time Harold (2001) started The Academy of Arts and Sciences in Uttara, Dhaka. It was from his love for art. My daughter Aashna was his student. In 1978 Harold had graduated in graphic design from Wales University,UK. He taught Art for O level and A level students and indeed his home was like a `Gurugriha' , his man Friday Ranglal was the subject of live drawing for Aashna. Her many sketches of Raghu in various daily poses comprise of the collections that she left behind when she travelled abroad.
I went to meet Harold to be able to exchange some news of Aashna, Harold exclaimed happily, `Nashid ,this year we have introduced chess in our list of recreational art (2018). More than thousand students have graduated so far from this Academy. These children may become graphic designers, architects, fashion designers or computer special effects designers! The children learn to draw fruits, flowers, geometrical shapes and human body. Then we develop the sense of perspective, forms and shapes and their sense of colour and shades. We try to hold exhibitions every year comprising of the children's works and those of established artists.'
In the dance department they offer Bharat Nattyam, Kathak and folk dances. Most students want to learn the guitar but dottara, tabla , flute and drums are encouraged.
Harold says, `Even though I am a musician and an artist, I hate teaching music because I am very limited in that, I don't even use the normal tuning'. I play in an open A tune which no one wishes to learn. Everyone wants to be Eric Clapton nowadays!'
I find his apartment full of paintings, some of his own and some by others as he leads us (Armeen and me) to the stairs leading to the unfinished landing. The door reveals another Harold. There is a roof top garden with exotic mangoes hanging from the plant, not to mention various trees with lovely flowers!
'My love of plants dates way back. I grew roses. My father had over three hundred varieties. I only got up to two hundred. I plant all the time. My roof top garden has mangoes, guavas, oranges, star fruits, star apples and sepatoes. I talk to all the plants. When I pluck a ripe fruit I tend to always thank the plant. Plants are part and parcel of our lives.'
After he has completed the sentence, I didn't know what to say, I am thankful that my daughter was mentored by him, I am thankful that more than a thousand children have known the genius of Harold, and am thankful that such people still exist. They keep on contributing till their last breath!
Nashid Kamal is an academic, Nazrul exponent and translator.