“Dada how are you? Didi where are you working now?”- such affectionate reception from a foreign Premier simply meant satisfaction unbound. It so happened that the hon’ble Bhutanese Prime Minister Dr. Lotay Shering, Professor Nuzhat Choudhury and I had spent some of the most memorable times of our bygone past in Mymensingh Medical College campus around the same time. Though Dr. Lotay happens to be junior to me by three years, we had known each other since then. And having visited Bhutan for the first time on the occasion of his oath taking ceremony, I could realize how weird the post-90 Bangladesh may have seemed to him.
It was a turmoil some time for Bangladesh and Mymensingh was no different. Having been expelled from the boy’s hostel of Mymensingh Medical College by the student’s front of the then ruling BNP, our refuge in those days were apartments converted to makeshift hostels in Mymensingh town, now city. We had soon adopted to the new normal life of the so called post-90 democracy in Bangladesh, but having admired the serine lifestyle of Thimpu during my visit, I wished the earth be divided for me to hide, as the newly elected Bhutanese Prime Minister, reminiscent of his undergraduate days, was exchanging greetings with us fondly holding Nuzhat’s hands. No wonder what impression lasts in the minds of the foreign students like Dr. Lote Schering who had spent years in Bangladesh campuses in those rotten times.
I don’t know if there is something special in the food on serving at the college canteen of Mymensingh, as the medical college has seen quite a few Members of Parliaments and even Cabinet Members in Bangladesh and Bhutan amongst its alumni. Bhutan’s Finance Minister Dr. Tanding Dorjey also happens to be graduate of Mymensingh Medical College. “Bhai I am M24 (graduate of 24th batch of Mymensingh Medical College)” was his first words as he fondly hugged me shortly after he was sworn in as a members of Dr. Lotey’s cabinet. No wonder Professor Shering, the President (Vice Chancellor) of the only medical university of Bhutan was asking me, on a lighter note as I called on him in his office, whether Political Science is included in the curriculum of Mymensingh Medical College.
Our Bhutan trip was finalized bit hastily. Although we often get to travel abroad in connection with presenting papers indifferent medical conferences, Bhutan had somehow been missed always. So when the opportunity came and that also to join the sworning in ceremony of a Mymensingh Medical College alumni as the Prime Minister of country, we had no second thoughts.
As we awaited our turn to call on the newly elected Bhutanese PM sitting in the exclusive waiting area of the PMO, I was mesmerized to enjoy Bhutanese tradition. It was the voters from Dr. Lote’s constituency, who had the privilege of calling on him first to be followed by the dignitaries. With us in the waiting area were two former Bhutanese cabinet ministers. The discussions soon became very fond as they learnt that we two were also alumni of Mymensingh Medical College. They had no hesitation in praising Bangladesh for our remarkable achievements under Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s leadership. And then came that moment to cherish! Though years have passed since our last meeting, we expected Dr. Lote to be cordial to Nuzhat and me, but had never imagined the warmth and fondness that he had shown, so much that our would be teenager son Shurjo was also taken by surprise.
As Dr. Lot stepped out of his office building to meet and greet the long line of dignitaries awaiting him in the courtyard, which is another unique Bhutanese tradition where the voters get to meet the hon’ble Prime Minister in his office, but the dignitaries wait outside, Nuzhat and I once again felt very special as the hon’ble Prime Minister has given us extra privilege of having us in his office, over many more deserving other. And then came my realization - since this Bhutanese Prime Minister knows Bangladesh so very well and also from within, perhaps it is the best time during the festivities of Bangabandhu’s 100 and Bangladesh’s 50, to take the relationship between our two brotherly nations to newer heights. Least we should forget that this it is also the golden jubilee of establishment of our diplomatic ties with Bhutan.
Professor Mamun Al Mahtab (Shwapnil) is Chairman, Liver Department, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University