My final conversation with Abed bhai

Having rejoined BRAC in 2012, I left again at the end of 2016. I didn’t inform him that I was leaving as he would make noise. So when he met a few months later, he was almost angry. “Have you left BRAC to join a newspaper? “ I said, “No.” Are you going to remain with BRAC University?. I said, “Yes”. He relaxed. By then we were chatting and without him irritated. In a way that was our last proper conversation.

He was very keen about the University and felt that the future would see BRAC University as his greatest legacy and BRAC NGO would die out as its need would end. He had made me read a lot of stuff on universities and his relationship with BRAC U was affectionate and not professional. He asked me why I didn’t join full time. . I replied, “Because they won’t have me. “ He kept quiet for a while and then said, “Anyway, Never stop teaching the Diversity course.”

I no longer teach at the BRAC University and the Diversity course is also no longer taught there but Abed bhai didn’t know that and I am glad.


To him Diversity was not a shushil issue as it is mostly in Bangladesh but a very practical one. If any society lacked that, it would fail. He had learnt the hard way that racism and discrimination was unproductive. BRAC International had faced many problems in Africa and he had reports that the relationship between the local African staff and Bangladeshi seniors was poor. He had asked me to do a survey on the problem and suggest changes.

Racism is natural in human society but it needs management to overcome it in today’s world. Otherwise it can scald and damage like it’s doing in the West. Politics only produces new privilege groups.

Abed bhai wanted everyone in BRAC to be trained in Diversity but he also knew that there was a lot of turf war in BRAC . He wanted it located in the BRAC U because Abed bhai wanted Diversity studies to be part of the education system.

That day, we discussed Africa, a place I knew first hand. He thought the way the African child was held by the mother freeing her hand to work was very efficient. It was essentially all about being functional. Abed bhai had little use for ideas that produced more ideas only. “ BRAC has grown because of need. Schools needed books and they couldn’t supply books so we set up our publishing and printing unit. Farmers produced vegetables and milk which they couldn’t sell immediately so we set up cold storages. New ventures should come out of new demands. “

I had drifted out of BRAC and perhaps we both knew our worlds were to be different from then on. With him there was always a time to talk and time to work. As I walked out of the room of the man who saw work as a form of religion and people a matter of belief, it was back to working for the people again.

Stay on Abed bhai.

Source: United News of Bangladesh