For former English majors of Dhaka University, the reunion day organised by the English Department Alumni Society or EDAS is one of the most important events on their social calendar every year.
Take former EDAS president Wazir Sattar for instance. He arrived at Friday’s reunion on crutches.
“I’m not doing too well. As you can see, I had an accident. But I didn’t want to miss this gathering. I used to be the one organising these events. How can I miss it?” he said while speaking to bdnews24.com.
This year’s edition was special for multiple reasons.
EDAS, which came into being in 1986 and never missed a year since, did not organise this annual bash for the last two years, fearing it might turn into a super-spreader event.
The event also coincides with the centenary year of the university and the department as the department was opened when the university started its journey in 1921.
These reasons are why, according to celebrated theatre producer Ramendu Majumdar, the current EDAS president, the organisers broke off with the tradition by hosting the event at a posh hotel in Dhaka instead of the usual one, the DU’s Teacher-Student Centre, or TSC.
Though the Bangla Academy Literary Award recipient Prof Niaz Zaman, a retired teacher of the department and herself an alumna of the 1962 batch, said she was enjoying herself in the presence of her former pupils at the event, she was still missing the vibe of the TSC.
“It’s splendid here. I’m really enjoying myself. Though I am missing the TSC vibe,” she said.
bdnews24.com Editor-in-Chief Toufique Imrose Khalidi, a former student of the department and former general secretary of EDAS, felt the same.
“It’s been three years since the last one [reunion]. So, TSC could have been the best option for the venue. The campus that made me is above everything to me,” he said.
The organisers divided this year’s venue, Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel, into two sections. The first section was opened in the afternoon for the members of the alumni group to exchange pleasantries and nostalgia.
The second section was opened in the evening to organise a dinner, honouring the former students and teachers.
At the dinner, Prof Serajul Islam Choudhury, the veteran professor emeritus of the department, was honoured by EDAS.
“I have received many awards, but today's one is very special to me as it’s been given to me by people close to my heart,” he said during his short acceptance speech.
Noted littérateur Gultekin Khan, defying her doctor’s strict order to remain bedridden, arrived at the venue with a twisted ankle.
“I feel amazing today. Though I didn’t find all my classmates today, but I had a fantastic time with those who managed to arrive,” she said.
Retired inspector general of Police Benazir Ahmed, a former joint secretary of EDAS, equated his post-retirement public life with the campus life he had.
“My experience on the campus was an exceptional chapter of my life with different realities and challenges. As I have recently begun a new chapter of my life after serving the country for many years, I am trying to adapt to it quickly, just like I did during my campus years.
Incumbent Home Secretary Aminul Islam Khan, EDAS general secretary, also spoke on the occasion.