I, one keen Bangladeshi autograph-hunter, have been collecting autographs (not-facsimile) of eminent personalities of the world since my school life, at the age of twelve, more than six decades ago from today.
I got a golden opportunity to collect the autographs when I used to read out then premier Bengali Daily “AZAD” every night before my father to gather news and knowledge as part of his regular duty. When I read out the newspaper, I questioned my father about the eminent personalities with their life-sketches and also about their whereabouts.
My father, late Khan Sahib Muhammad Afzal, replied the questions patiently, who was a retired prominent government civil servant, journalist, social worker, educationalist and also founder-president of the Angoon Journalists’ Association, Naogaon in erstwhile East Pakistan.
I then started my dream to communicate among the eminent personalities by my own hand-writing letters through postal aerogramme frequently, requesting their autographs. As a result, I have received more than three thousands of letters along with their autographs (not-facsimile) in reply. I do not lose my patience for the same as I have been still continuing this hobby and have already collected the same more than three thousands.
The first those received letters encouraging the hobby were Sir Zafrullah Khan, first Pakistani Foreign Minister and later Chief Justice of the International Court of Justice in the Hague, dated 22nd March, 1960; Nobel laureate in literature, scholar and politician Lord Bertrand Russell; former Prime Minister Lord Harold Wilson; Second World War Hero Air Chief Marshal Christopher N. Fouleyhouis Cheshire; former foreign secretary Lord Carrington; famous BBC Journalist Mark Tully of British; Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson of USA; Congressman Stephen J. Solarg; Negro Leader and Nobel Peace Prize Winner Dr. Ralph J. Bunche; famous Negro Singer and Human Rights Activist Miss Marian Anderson; President of the 1nternational Bar Association and International Lawyer Wm. Reece Smith, Jr. of America; France Politician and Nobel Laureate Andre Malraux; President F. Marcos of the Philippines; Cambodian King Prince Nordom Sihanouk; German Internationally renowned Historian Professor Dr. Miss Annemarie Schimmel of Harvard University; Prime Minister Walter Nash of New Zealand; Guatemalan famous politician, lawyer, writer, ambassador and 1967 Nobel Laureate in Literature Senor Miguel Angel Asturias; General K.M. Carriappa; veteran communist leader E.M.S. Namboodiripad; famous lawyer and politician K.N. Katju; famous journalist Khuswat Singh; veteran Sher-E-Kashmiri Sheikh Md. Abdullah; veteran Sikh leader Master Tara Singh, former Prime Ministers Morarji Desai and Chandra Shekar of India; Internationally reputed Zoologist and ornithologist Salim Ali; veteran Film Actor Amitab Bachchan of India and others.
Autographs (not-facsimile) received were from first Prime Minister Jawaharal Nehru, first Governor-General Raja Gopalchari, Jai Prakash Narain, Last Viceroy Lord Mountbatten of India, former seven Presidents including Herbert Hoover, famous Hollywood Film Actor Walt Diseny and Chariton Husten, General Douglas Mac Arthur, famous space scientist Dr. George V. Braun, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, Adlai E. Stevenson, Averall Harriman, Dean Rusk, Dean Acheson, Robert Kennedy and Edward Kennedy, Nelson A. Rockfeller of America, former nine Prime Ministers including Lord Clement Attlcc, famous Labour Party Leader Huge Gaitskell, Blind Scholar Sir John Wilson, CBE, DCL, Lady Baden-Powell, Malcolm MacDonald, Sir Robert Jackson, world famous Historian Prof A. Toynbee of British, first President Archbishop Markarious of Cyprus, first Prime Minister Tunkn Abdul Rahman of Malaysia, first Prime Minister Dr. Muhammad Hatta and ex-President General Suharto of Indonesian fist Prime Minister and later President General Ismet Inonu, historic Coup d’etat Leader and President General Cemel Gursel of Turkey, first Prime Minister Dr. Abu Bakkar Tafawa Balewa of Nigeria, first President Habib Bourguiba of Tunisia, first President Dr. Julius K. Nyerere of Tanganika, assassinated President Sylvanus Olympia of Togo, last Emperor Haile Sellassi of Ethopia, assassinated Prime Minister Dr. H.F. Verwoord and heart surgeon Dr. Christian Bernard of South Africa, first President Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia, First President Marshal Josop Broz Tito of Yugoslavia, President Dr. Fidel Castro of Cuba, ex-President of the International Olympic Committee Juan Antonio Samaranch, Alexander Dubeck of Czechoslovakia, first President Dr. Theodor Heuss of defunct West Germany, King Hussein of Jordan, assassinated King Saud-al-Faisal of Saud Arabia, first Prime Minister Ben Bella of Algeria, Coup d’etat Leader and first President General Karin Al-Kassem of Iraq, Air-Crashed killed Prime Minister Dr. Rachid Karami of Lebanon, President Yasser Arafat and Architecture of the Palestine Liberation Front Grand Mufit Sayeed Md. Amon-al-Husseniai of Palestine, first man conquered on the Mount Everest Sherpa Tenzing and Sir Edmund Hillary, German World Cup Woman Champion Tennis Player MS Steffi Graf and others.
I received autographs (not-facsimile) of our Bangladesh National Leader Hussain Shaheed Suhrawardy, Moulana Abdur Rashid Tarqabakish and Sheikh Mujibur Rahman (later Father of the Nation) in a railway saloon, carrying them in a special train on 18th September, 1957 at Santhahar Railway Junction at about nine in the morning.
I was then a school-student of class seven at the age of twelve only. I suddenly rushed to meet them in the said saloon, violating strong army security as the train was carrying the then Prime Minister of Pakistan Hussain Shaheed Suhrawardy. I requested their kind autographs in my diary. Mr. Suhrawardy first enquired me about my name, home and my class of reading spoken in both half-Bengali and Urdu languages. I replied the same.
Later he took out his own fountain-pen from a suitcase and put his autograph in my diary. He was then wearing payjama and ganjee like a simple man. I was then sitting with them for about ten minutes which was the most memorable day of mine.
Pakistan famous politician and Frontier Gandhi Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan sent me his autograph written “Religion is love, truth and service of humanity” dated 10th July 1960, from the jail as a political prisoner from Peshawar.
The wife of the world first transplanted heart patient offered her heart for first surgery to South Africa heart surgeon and later Prime Minister, Dr. P.B. Bleiberg, sent me her husband’s autograph from one used bank cheque, collected from the bank. I wrote her the same after a few years of her husband’s death.
Former President Herbert Hoover of America sent his autograph on the front page of Globe-Democrat SUNDAY Magazine, dated August 6, 1960, the special supplement issued on his 87th birth anniversary.
I received autographs of more than three dozen of the Nobel Laureates including twice winner Dr. L. Pauling of America, Miss Pearl S Buck, Mother Teresa, The Dalai Lama, British Labour Party Parliamentarian Philip Noel-Baker, MS Roberta Menchu and also five Secretary-Generals of the United Nations including first Trygvc Lie.
I have received autographs (not-facsimile) and letters of more than three dozen of German influential political leaders and others including Nobel Laureates Prof. Dr. Otto Heinrich Warburg and Dr. Willy Brandt, Chancellor Dr. K. Adenàuer, Internationally renowned Zoologist and Author Prof. Dr. Bernhard Grzimek, Journalist Robert H. Lochner, musician Acharya Manfrod M. Junius and others.
Fourteen players of once World Champion Sri-Lanka Cricket Team and sixteen players of once World Champion German Football Team sent me their autographs (not-facsimile) in 1988 and 1998 respectively for the collection
I belong to Khattawsher-Raninagar village of Raninagar Upazila under Naogaon district in Bangladesh. I graduated in Arts from Naogaon Degree College in 1965 and later obtained Bachelor of Laws Degree (LL.B) in 1994 from Rajshahi Law College both under Rajshahi University.
I was elected as Debate Secretary of Naogaon Basiruddin Memorical Cooperative College Students’ Union in 1961-1962 who was also contributed suggestions to the first 1972 formed Bangladesh Draft Constitution. I was the only person from my borne district to make such suggestion.
I served as own correspondent of several National Dailies for Naogaon district for about fifteen years and was also a member of the first Central Executive Council for Bangladesh Journalists’ Association (Mufassil) in 1972-1976. I served as General Secretary of Naogaon Journalists’ Association and Naogaon Press Club in 1977-1980. I have been still contributing letters in “Letter Column” in several National Dailies, beginning since my school life.
I am the youngest and now only living son of my late parents. I was born with twin brothers in Bogra district town in 1941. My twin brothers Al-Haj-Anwarul Afzal, M.A., L.L.B. died of cancer in 2002 while eldest brother Shaheed Lieutenant Anwarul Azim, MA, LL.B. laid down his youth life for the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War as his dead body had not been found.
I have spent a huge amount of money for this great work. I am now 74 years old.
I received most of the autographs and letters after more than a decade of my writing to them frequently with deep patience and also received autograph (not facsimile) of President Dr. Fidel Castro of Cuba after a long four decades.
I have established a strong friendship-bridge, cementing between home and abroad by this hobby no doubt.
I am very eager to hold Charity International Autographs Exhibition in aid to deaf, dumb, blind and handicapped persons at home and abroad and to establish an autograph museum in Bangladesh. For this I urge the respective governments and any International Organizations, NGOS, Banks and insurance Companies, Business Houses and others to sponsor the cost and help me to organize the exhibition and to establish the museum. I also wish to write one book in English entitled “AUTOGRAPHS DEPICT MEMOIRS” in cooperation by any International Book Publishers, supplying me the relevant materials.
I appeal earnestly for their kind cooperation and communication in the matter, to pave the way for making success of my long standing childhood dream, to fly our war-ravaged National Flag of Bangladesh atop in the world for world peace born by a sea of the holy bloods of the martyrs and millions of tears.
Finally, to help to establish one Autograph Museum, this will be the first such museum in the world, no doubt.
Mohammad Anwarul Quadir, LL.B
Advocate and Journalist
Former President of
Naogaon City Press Club
Master Para, Chakdev
Dist: Naogaon, Bangladesh