Mohammed Shamsul Haq (Dinajpur, Bangladesh)


Greetings from the Taj MahalKantaji temple

Settling in

Initially it was difficult for Shamsul and his family to settle in Dinajpur.

We are all one group and we live together. Our neighbours are from Malda and Adivasis [literally 'original inhabitants'].

They felt that the people from Malda tried to cheat them and grab their land while Adivasis resented them because the refugee camp is built on their land.

Things are better these days but our community still lacks education and job opportunities. The camp feels safe, though.

The camp is in one of the regions of Bangladesh where there are many Hindus but he feels they all live together peacefully.

This place is good. You know the proverb about Dinajpur? It's 'paddy piled up high, sheds full of cows, ponds brimming with fish' [gola bhora dhan, goyal bhora goru, pukur bhora mach]. People in this district are much happier than those in other districts, everything grows easily; it's a peaceful place.

Shamsul lives next to the famous Kantajir temple of Dinajpur and likes where he lives as the climate is very mild. These days, old age prevents him from travelling so he spends his days thinking about his earlier travels. He tells his great-grandchildren:

Let me tell you about the most magical thing I've ever come across… The Taj Mahal. The tombs of the two lovers side by side in marble and inlaid with precious gems of different colours next to the Jamuna river – this was the most extraordinarily beautiful sight I've ever come across.

I travelled to Punjab once as a child with my grandfather but I don't remember much about that trip except that people were much taller.

He remembers his trip to Karachi and to Delhi – he liked Delhi and has a great memory of visiting the Red Fort and eating a lovely fruit salad nearby.

I also travelled through Bangladesh when I worked at the Kakrail mosque as a preacher for the Tablighi Jamaat [an Islamic group]. I preached in Mymensingh, then Rajshahi, this was about seven or eight years ago. When I was in Rajshahi I visited some of the mosques in the area and was touched by their beauty.


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