A couple of weeks back, Shabab, one of our classmates from the 2006 batch of Sunbeams School, passed away, leaving us in shock. We got together on a WhatsApp group after fourteen years and eventually, decided to donate some money in our friend's name to the support staff at Sunbeams. From across several continents, we raised a reasonable amount. I volunteered to hand over the donation to the school, after which we sent an email to our 'Mrs Manzur', explaining the cause.
"You have been beacons of light and hope in 84 households today, dear Beamers; and taught 155 teachers anew that we must all do what we can, when we can. We are very proud of you," she wrote back. "Shabab's spirit of kindness lives on through all of you." She contributed to the fund herself to round off the amount that we raised so that the support staff could take home a substantial sum for Eid. Perhaps this was meant to be our last interaction with her, to make her proud in return for how she looked after her students.
My parents have been teachers at Sunbeams for several years. Growing up, I always heard them and most other teachers address Mrs Manzur as 'Boro Apa' - not madam or ma'am. Inevitably, as a child, I began referring to her as 'Boro Miss'. For as long as I can remember, every Eid, Boro Miss would send a basket of food and goodies to our home. My father received a cake on his birthday from her every year, without fail. In every conversation with my parents, she would ask about my brother and me – that is how much she valued those who were affiliated with Sunbeams.
There are numerous instances where Mrs Manzur supported me and my family. From offering the Sunbeams basketball court to host my wedding to arranging a hospital room for me when I was down with dengue and sent back from the hospital due to lack of beds – she went out of her way to care for those in need.
Today, Mrs Manzur leaves behind a legacy, as an exceptional leader who dedicated her entire life towards nurturing generations of 'Beamers', as students of Sunbeams are fondly called. Her students are doing good for the world every day. She showed us that humility is important, even if you are at the top of the ladder. We have lost an educator, a mentor and above all, a truly beautiful human being. Her kindness beamed, much like the seven beams of the sun on the Sunbeams logo.
Fifteen years ago, she pinned the school prefect badge on my uniform. I wondered why I was chosen, despite being an average student. She said once that school is not all about academics – something which has stayed with me over the years.
Today, I want to thank her for advocating humanity above good grades. It is this spirit that has brought me where I am now, fighting every day for a better future of my sports community, as a basketball player. She was proud of what I am fighting for and acknowledged all the newspaper articles that she came across about my work. She has taught me to always aim higher and never settle for mediocrity. Her display of commitment and care for others stands as an example.
I dedicate my life's little successes and joys to My Boro Miss – she is unparalleled and irreplaceable.
The writer is from the 2006 batch of Sunbeams.