Epilogue

By the grace and mercy of the Lord Almighty, I have been spending a happy and restful retired life in Karachi, Pakistan, with my wife, Ayesha. We also spent many happy and enjoyable months at a time with son-in-law Taimur, daughter Nazli, and grand-daughters Zeyna and Mona at Sharjah (U.A.E.).

In the year 2002 the Shah family migrated to Canada, and a most generous gift, with loving kindness, from Khwaja Badruddin to his sister Ayesha, enabled us to travel to Canada and spend almost three months with Nazli and family in their new home in Mississauga, Toronto. En route to Toronto we stopped over in London and spent two glorious weeks with Hamid and Lucy and enjoyed their kind hospitality. On arrival in Toronto we spent the first two weeks with Ayesha’s sister, Lal (Laila) and her husband, the late Najmul Huq, lovingly called Ziad, while Taimur and Nazli were getting their new house in order. We were glad to meet, after many years, their daughter Nicky, her husband Tahir and their children, and Faiza. We also visited Ayesha’s brother Shams and Nasreen in Seattle, U. S. A., and, during our stay with them we spent a week with Najma and Rahman Quader Bhaijan in Irvine, California.

During that week, Najma was kind and gracious, but most reluctantly, let us spend a night with Commodore Syed Fazle Rab and cousin Shakila at Annaheim Hills, not far from Irvine and their home a stone’s throw from Disney Land. Fazle very kindly took us to see Universal studios. On returning to Seattle, Shams and Nasreen drove us to Vancouver where we met Almas Zakiuddin, Brigette, wife of Ayesha’s brother K.S. Ahmed (Sally) and her daughters Ahseea and Ayesha. The highlight of our Vancouver visit, for me, was meeting and having lunch with my friend the late Commodore I. H. Malik. We had first met at the All India Scout’s Jamboree at New Delhi in February 1937 when we were about thirteen years old. This visit to the U.K. and the U.S.A. was after a very long gap of thirty two years.

In December 2008 Yasmeen Murshed, daughter of my brother the late Khwaja Zakiuddin, very kindly took Ayesha, my sister, Hushmat and me to Dhaka to attend the wedding of her son, Maher with Sarah, and granted me the honour and privilege to perform the Nikah. It was a grand wedding and we spent ten happy days attending all the functions. We also met some of our relatives, many of whom we had not seen for many years. Yasmeen was, at the time, posted in Islamabad as the High Commissioner for Bangladesh in Pakistan.

Then, ‘just another coincidence’. On 12th April 2012 completely out of the blue, I received an e-mail from an unkown David Raschid which read:

“Dear sir, I read your article on the paulite web. It made very interesting reading.I wonder if you knew my father. He later became the school Captain in 1944 .His name was Paul Ewart Raschid. Best wishes, David Raschid”

Replying as promptly as I could, I mentioned that I had known his father who was a class friend of my younger brother the late K. M. Shahed at St. Paul’s School, Darjeeling. With subsequent exchange of e-mails I learnt that the late Paul Raschid represented Pakistan in Boxing at the London Olympics in 1948. Old boys of the school are known as “Old Paulites”

In September 2003 I started working voluntarily with the Pakistan Institute of Maritime Affairs (P.I.M.A.) and worked for four years. It was founded by the late Admiral H.M.S. Choudri, a former Commander-in-Chief of the Pakistan Navy. He also founded the Foundation for the Development of Moral Revival (F.D.M.R.), on the lines of the M.R.A. (Moral Rearmament) of Caux, Switzerland, which had impressed him very much when he met its founder in London, while he was doing a course with the Imperial Defence College. He was the first Pakistani Commander-in-Chief of the Pakistan Navy and contributed to the country immensely. He was the first Indian to join the Royal Indian Marine, as the Royal Indian Navy was then called, and was commissioned as a Sub-Lieutenant in 1931. It was a great honour and privilege for me to have served directly under him during the time I spent five years with the Pakistan Navy from 1952 to 1957.

Admiral Choudri was keen to have me working in this organization. His elder son Rishad Choudri, the main organizer along with his brother Umair, got in touch with me through the late Col. Mohatarem who was Honorary Secretary of the Admiral’s company whom I used to meet daily while walking in Nisar Shaheed Park. During his life time the Admiral was so active that PIMA used to hold seminars and conferences on various subjects about four times in the year. Reports of these seminars along with recommendations concerning many aspects of Maritime affairs were sent to the Government of Pakistan, but, unfortunately, generally scarce attention was paid to them.

Admiral Choudri, who made it a point to come to the office even at the age of 92 years, on a wheelchair, passed away on 28th February 2004. May his soul rest in eternal heavenly peace.

I may share with readers a most amusing incident that took place during World War II when Admiral H.M.S. (Haji Mohammad Siddiq) Choudri (then a Commander or Captain) was being sent to America by the Royal Navy, a signal was sent to the U.S. Naval Headquarters in Washington, informing them the time of his arrival. The signal, the exact text is not available, read: “HMS Choudri ETA (estimated time of arrival) so and so.” Prompt came the reply which probably read: “signal dimensions”, meaning length, breath and draft of the ship The Admiral’s initials were taken by the Americans to mean “His Majesty’s Ship”.

Vice Admiral Iqbal F. Quadir kindly agreed to take over as the Chairman of PIMA Board. During his tenure PIMA Seminar to commemorate the 600th Anniversary of Chinese Admiral Zheng He’s Maritime Missions to the Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea Region and their Significance for Peace, Trade and Development”, was held at the Raffia Choudri Memorial Centre on 27th August 2005. The Chief Guest was His Excellency the Ambassador, Mr. Zhang Chungxiang, who was accompanied by Mme. Zhang. The seminar was followed by an exhibition of a large number of paintings and posters and a Video film which were most graciously sent by the Government of the People’s Republic of China, by air, from Beijing.

Looking back at the time around January 1946, when everyone I met was keen to hear about my experiences, Professor Humayun Kabir, {brother of Alamgir Kabir, husband of my sister, Tahera), later Minister of Education in the Republic of India, suggested that I should put my experiences down in writing. I took his advice and started writing.
My first book “To HIM I owe my life” was first published by Ferozsons, Lahore in 1952.

The original manuscript was written by me over a period of two years, beginning in 1946. It was written more as an effort to keep a record of my experiences under Japanese captivity than with the purpose of publication. Had it not been for the keenness and enthusiasm of my eldest brother, the late Khwaja Zakiuddin, it would have remained unattended and unnoticed to be read only by those who were close to me. He typed the manuscript – partly typed and hand-written – after long working hours, and even during holidays. He was then with Grindlays Bank Limited in Peshawar.

In early 1952, Dr Abdul Waheed of Ferozsons, Lahore, saw the manuscript with my brother and decided to publish it as a book. Since I was then an officer in the Royal Pakistan Navy, the publishing of the book had to be approved by Naval Headquarters in Karachi, which they did and, Rear Admiral J. W. Jefford, the Commander-in-Chief, very kindly wrote the Foreword dated 16th June 1952. At their request an autographed copy of the book was presented to the Imperial War Museum, London in January, 1955.

About the book, the title says it all – To HIM I owe my life”. The Lord Almighty, by His grace and mercy, took care of me over the three years and more, of hardship as well as better days – with help coming to me from completely out of the blue from people I had never met or known before. And, it is through His grace and mercy that I survived the ordeal and I am as well as I can be at my age.

A very important and a significant point to consider is the fact, that, I was just over 18 years of age – a teenager – when my ship S.S. Chilka was sunk by a Japanese submarine on 11th March 1942. Almost a month later, on 22nd April 1942, when I was exactly 18 and a half years old, I was taken prisoner by the Japanese. I had no experience of life and did not know the rules of war applicable to Prisoners of War (POWs). The book went out of print many years ago.

It was Fourteen Years ago, in December 1997, that the second revised edition of my book “To Him I owe my life” was printed and published through the kind courtesy of my niece, YASMEEN MURSHED. On a visit to Karachi in early 1997, Yasmeen had offered to publish the book at her son, Maher Murshed’s publishing and printing company, PRINTCRAFT, in Dhaka. Soon afterwards, she was joined by her sister, Almas Zakiuddin, who moved from Toronto to Dhaka in summer 1997. The three of them, Yasmeen, Almas and Maher had taken the book to its final second edition publication.

SHARMIN MALIK, daughter of the late Khwaja and Najma Nooruddin, and my cousin, was entirely responsible and instrumental in inspiring me to start revising and re-writing portions of the book mentioned above. Entirely of her own free will, she took on the responsibility of editing it, and what an excellent job she has done. She worked so hard to complete the manuscript in record time that, on one of her trips to America, she carried all the material with her baggage so that she could work at it while on holiday. She was then living in Bangkok, and later, in Hong Kong, where her husband, Aftab Malik, was posted. From both these places she kept sending me by mail, (as there was no “e-mail” in those days) edited versions, chapter by chapter, and finally, she sent me the completed manuscript along with a disc, on one of her visits to Islamabad.

Meanwhile, she got in touch with an old friend, Khaula Yasmeen Qureshi, Marketing & Publicity Executive, Oxford University Press, Karachi, and there was an exchange of correspondence between them. In her letter of June 25, 1995 she informed me that certain information was required by Oxford University Press which I would prepare and keep ready to send them as soon as the final manuscript was ready. In this letter she wrote: “I am so excited with this development and I hope Allah will help us make the great achievement of having such a prestigious company as Oxford publish the book.” However, the Lord Almighty knows what is best for us, and it so happened that, I finally received a letter dated 16th November 1995 from Yasmin Qureshi, Academic Editor, stating: “We regret to say that our Readers Report stated that the manuscript did not conform to Oxford University Press policy, to which we are bound to adhere. We sincerely hope that you will not be disheartened, but will submit it to another publisher, who deals in a different variety of books.”

It may be remembered that my experiences in Japanese captivity relate to a time when I was in Sumatra more than sixty five years ago. Many changes have taken place over the years. What is now Indonesia was the Dutch East Indies in those days; Indonesians were known as Malayans.

I regret that I never had the opportunity to visit the region again and meet those very kind and hospitable people who took care of me and provided me with shelter when I needed it most. May Allah bless them all with His Grace and Mercy and for those who are no more with us, may their souls rest in eternal heavenly peace.

Since way back in the early sixties I have been writing articles based on my own knowledge and understanding of the teachings of the Holy Qur’an. These articles have appeared from time to time in the Morning News, Dhaka, Dawn, Karachi, Gulf News and Khaleej Times, Dubai (U.A.E.). In addition, letter writing has been like a hobby which lead me to start the Dhaka Nawab Family Newsletter in July 1991, of which I have been the Founding Editor for the past twenty years. In July 2006 I wrote the Editorial in verse, tracing the history of the Newsletter, which I have been repeating at the anniversary every year, in July, and now make it a part of the story of my life:

To my near and dear ones, a long letter I wrote,
Living in countries, near and remote.
Heartening, encouraging—each reply was better,
Saying – “Thank you, for your lovely Newsletter.”

Then born was the idea, to write every month,
To as many as I could, once every month.
Shahrukh in Karachi and Zubair in Dubai,
Suggested I charge for the paper I buy.

In the month of July, Nineteen-Ninety one,
Sixteen years ago, this work had begun.
One by one they came to the fold,
From far and near, young and old.

A volunteer to help me, came Sharukh Fatah,
With support of her husband, Vaqar-ul-Fatah.
On the computer she worked, to key-in the draft,
Which she received from me, duly paragraphed.

Promptly then dispatched to Yawar Babar’s office,
Where printout could be made, at short notice.
Then for photocopying to the market it went,
Stapled by Ayesha, around the world it was sent.

Khwaja Mohiuddin suggested that it would be better,
To call it —The Dhaka Nawab Family Newsletter.
All family members voted unanimously for the same,
And thus was adopted, the much-liked name!

Rauf Kadri and Munir Mashooqullah respectively,
Helped with photocopying—most readily.
It was then that Yawar Babar, made the logo,
Of the Family Newsletter, for people to know.

Then came the most tragic day,

When Vaqar-ul-Fatah, passed away !
Sharukh was in shock and totally shattered,
Her sister Sharmin, from Dubai helped with all that mattered.

She took over and completed
All that I had drafted.
Then made sure, there was no interruption
In the Family Newsletter publication.

Syed Sami Mustafa offered me computer training,
Invited “Sayeed Mumma” for instructions and learning.
I then became computer literate, learnt its operation, too,
Sacrificing my afternoon nap, at the age of Seventy-Two !

My first teacher, Rashid Nabi Qureshi—though not a Khan,
Did his work with directions, from the great Akbar Khan.
Then came the month of September,
When Sami Mustafa favoured me with a computer.

Later on, during a visit to the Emirate of Sharjah ,
”Windows” I learnt from Mona, my granddaughter.
By then having become computer literate adequately,
Was presented with a computer, by my daughter Nazli.

Sami Mustafa, then, made arrangements for printing.
The Family Newsletter, by Muhammad Mustaqeem.
He also gave it the professional look,
Presenting it as good as a book.

K. .M. . Shahed in Dhaka, worked hard to spread the word.
Birth of the Newsletter— all over Bangladesh was heard.
To Sarwat in London. he went for his health,
Uncle Latifullah, then took over the good work, till his death.

Parsa Dastigir from Dhaka, reported for a while,
Until Almas Zakiuddin, took over with a smile,
Then came Rafi Omar, and to this very day,
Keeps members informed, in his own learned way.

There was also “ News from Nawab Bari / Ahsun Munzil ”,
Which K.Serajul Islam reported regularly until,
Unfortunate it was that he then fell ill,
And that was the end of the news from Ahsun Munzil.

Mentioned it must be with a lot of praise,
When I went abroad, for months and days,
Vice Admiral Iqbal F.Quadir, of the Pakistan Navy,
Stepped in my place, and took full responsibility.

To help him came Khwaja Arshad, popularly known as Laley,
Mailing Newsletters, collecting subscriptions, which he does even today.
Account books were taken care of by Naveen Mukaty,
Subscribers now numbering, over one hundred and fifty.

And now in this day and age of electronic mail ,
Syed Tahmeed Rab distributes the Newsletter by E-mail.
And last but not least is our very own website—”nawabbari.com,”
Our thanks to Belal, Anas, Sanya and Arshad—every morn !

Most of all, with deep gratitude
I thank one and all for their great attitude,
In supporting the Newsletter with articles and news
By expressing their thoughts and their views.

May Allah bless you all with His grace and mercy,
With health and happiness may you all be,
Goodwill, love, understanding may you foster,
May the Dhaka Nawab Family forever prosper.

As all good things must come to an end, the time came for the Dhaka Nawab Family Newsletter to say “Farewell”, and its Tewnty-year publication came to an end in December 2011. For the last time I wrote an article for this “Farewell issue” on 28th November 2011.

I would like to add that, while writing this autbiography, I completely forgot to include my association with Rotary International and the time I spent as a Rotarian. As this was an important part of my life – cannot understand how I forgot about it – I feel it should be added to the Epilogue.

It was soon after I had joined the Narayanganj Chamber of Commerce and Industry in May 1957, that my cousin, the late Akhtar Morshed (Ayesha’s first cousin} who was Honorary Secretary of the Rotary Club of Narayanganj, conveyed to me the decision of their Membership Committee to invite me to join their club as a Rotarian.
However, before writing briefly about my association with Rotary International, for the benefit of those who are not familiar with this organisation, I am taking the opportunity to add that,:Rotary International is an association of Rotary clubs worldwide. It’s made up of more than 33,000 Rotary clubs in over 200 countries and geographical areas. The members of these autonomous clubs are called Rotarians, and they form a global network of 1.2 million business and professional leaders, all volunteering their time and talents to serve their communities and the world. Individual Rotary clubs, in turn, belong to the global association called Rotary International. The motto of a Rotary Club is “Service above Self”, and a Rotary year is from July to June.

The world’s first service club, the Rotary Club of Chicago, was formed on 23 February 1905 by Paul P. Harris, an attorney who wished to capture in a professional club the same friendly spirit he had felt in the small towns of his youth. The Rotary name derived from the early practice of rotating meetings among members’ offices.

An attendance record of 50 percent is required to remain an active Rotarian. Any missed meeting must be made up within 14 days before or after the regular meeting. To accommodate busy schedules, there are various opportunities to make up missed meetings. A Rotarian can attend the weekly meeting of any Club around the world which gives him attendance in his own club. There’s something that all Rotary club members have in common: As community volunteers, they reach out to neighbours in need. They build, support, and organize. They save lives. They work locally and globally. for Rotary,

The “Four-Way Test”, shown below, is the cornerstone of all action. Of the things Rotarians think, say or do

1. Is it the TRUTH?
2. Is it FAIR to all concerned?
3. Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS?
4. Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?

The test is one of the hallmarks of Rotary. Its four brief questions are not based on culture or religion. Instead, they are a simple check-list for ethical behavior. They transcend generations and national borders. Rotarians should have The Four-Way Test in mind in every decision they make, all day long. Their utmost responsibility is to speak the truth, to be fair, to build goodwill and better friendships, and to do their very best in all situations.

One of the most important requirements is for every Rotarian to have a “Classification” based on his (since then Ladies have been accepted as members) business or profession. No two members of a Club can have the same classification, so that there is a wide cross section of people who get to know one another and do social service together. (Courtesy: Googles).

I was happy working on various projects with other Rotarians from different walks of life, attending weekly luncheon meetings at the Narayanganj Club and listening to speakers on different subjects. The most popular Guest Speaker was the late Masood Hussain (Ex-Dufferin cadet of 1931-33 batch), Chairman, I.W.T.A. One of our projects,which I remember, was to patrol the Dhaka- Narayanganj road, checking speeding trucks and violation of Traffic Rules by vehicles. I used to do this regularly on my way home after office hours.

Unfortunately, the Government of East Pakistan, at the time, did not accept our proposal to voluntarily help the Traffic Police. Nevertheless, we continued doing what we could during our spare time which involved me in an accident when a speeding truck hit my Mini-Austin car causing injuries for which I was taken to a Hospital by my brother-in-law the late Ahmed Bham (husband of Ayesha’s sister, Haseen) who happened to be returning to Dhaka from Narayanganj.

Our Club was in the Rotary District 325 which included all the Rotary Clubs in Indian Provinces of Assam, West Bengal, Bihar and OrissaI, Nepal, Bhutan and East Pakistan. I forget the year when Ayesha and I accompanied other Rotarians and their wives to Calcutta to attend a District Conference. We could not go to the next District Conference, in Ranchi, as our visas did not arrive in time. Later, due to travel problems, Rotary International put all the 22 Clubs in Pakistan (East and West) in District 307 along with Afghanistan, if I remember correctly.

In June 1961 when I was posted to London by the Pakistan Jute Association I kept up my attendance by attending weekly meetings of one or the other Rotary Club in London. I returned to Dhaka in September 1962 as Managing Director of Ludlow Pakistan Company Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of Ludlow Corporation of Needham Heights, Massachussets, U.S.A., and I was invited to join the Rotary Club of Dhaka with “Jute – Brokerage” as my new Classification.

The Rotary Club of Dhaka met every Tuesday for Lunch at Hotel Shahbagh and later, moved to Hotel Intercontinental. Our main projects dealth with health, educaton and youth activities. In the year 1968-69 I was elected Vice President and soon after the start of the Rotary year the President, Rotarian Abdus Sattar (Income Tax Commissioner) fell ill and was confined to bed for the whole that year. It, therefore, fell upon me to act as the President and was elected President in July 1969. Once a month we had the “Ladies Night” when the dinner meeting was presided by the wife of the President of the Club who was the main speaker. At our weekly luncheon meetings we had Guest Speakers talking on various subjects of interest. Two of the most prominent personalities who graced our club by their presence as Guest Speakers, during my time as President, were: Mr. Justice Hamoodur Rahman, the Chief Justice of Pakistan, and Admiral S.M. Ahsan (Ex- Dufferin cadet of 1936-38 batch) a former Commander-in-Chief of the Pakistan Navy and, at the time, Governor of East Pakistan. I remember vividly that the subject of his talk was “The Four Way Test”.

In June 1970 Ayesha and I accompanied other fellow Rotarians and their wives to Karachi to attend the Dictrict Conference which was held at the Beach Luxury Hotel and presided by the late Kasim Dada, the District Governor. I had the proud privilege and honour of receiving a Merit Award from him for “Being the Best President of Rotary International District 307.

On 1st July 1970, I handed over charge of the Rotary Club of Dhaka to Dr. Innas Ali, a Professor of the University of Dhaka, who was elected President for the year 1970-71.

3 responses to “Epilogue

  1. It was my wish to share the manuscript with relatives and friends. Effort is being made to find a publisher who wold be interested to print the book. If and when, God willing, the proposed book sees the light of day, all those who received the manuscript would be informed.

    I wish I knew who has so kindly inquired about the book.
    Regards,
    Sayeed

  2. Dear ex Cadet Shahabuddin

    Hoping to learn something about the Joint Steamer Company, I stumbled upon your life story and was enthralled.

    I, also, was a Cadet with British India, arriving in Calcutta in the NAGINA in December 1942 and am just 6 days younger than yourself.
    I had a very fleeting glance at Captain Bird as he was taking command of the above ship when I was just leaving it to join the MULBERA on its way to Australia.
    You are probably aware that he was torpedoed on the way back to UK – what bad luck!

    I have only read the first few chapters of your life story but hope to complete it within the next week or so and I am looking forward to it.
    Perhaps we can speak by e-mail at length later?

    I hope you enjoyed your 88th birthday last Monday – I celebrate the same birthday this Sunday the 28th!

    With very best wishes

  3. Sir can you send one copy of your autobiography to St Paul’s School, Darjeeling . You Paulites would be very much interested to read it. Hope one day you could visit school.. I am an old Paulite working in SPS.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s