We are Bangladeshi families from Vancouver and University of British Columbia (UBC), Canada. We are deeply shocked and mourning the brutal attack on our sister Rumana Manzur. We are writing this letter out of grave concern observing the attempts made to establish a baseless extramarital story by Rumana’s husband. The Bangladeshi community in the University of British Columbia is a very small community. It is simply impossible for anyone to have an extramarital affair without being noticed by the community members.
When we met Rumana for the first time, she appeared to be an extremely nice, polite and a brilliant Bangladeshi student. We found her to be a very serious student and at the same time dedicated to her family. At numerous occasions she expressed her concern to finish her Degree as soon as possible and return to her family in Bangladesh. As families living abroad we understood her anxiety and tried to extend our support. Rumana has been living thousands of miles away from her family. Both Bangladeshi and other international students extended their support. She always used to reciprocate with her friendly behaviour, kind words and her excellent cooking.
We were also very impressed with her regular practice of saying prayers five times a day in spite of her busy schedule. Every time we visited her place we found her opening the door with her head covered. In last Ramadan, she tried to attend masjid programs as much as possible. Muslim students here helped her especially to get halal foods. This is normal here that a Muslim is helping his/her brothers or sisters. We don’t think existence of any immoral or extra marital relationship in this generosity. We would have surely noticed that.
She never mentioned any bad things about her husband’s profession rather in many occasions she asked us what could be the possible business opportunities for her husband to run here in Canada. We always found her putting priority on her daughter’s well being. Her heart and soul effort was to bring her family here in Canada.
She had a childlike simplicity and innocence. She was extremely friendly with our children in the community. Wherever she went, she was children’s friend. She could communicate with children very easily and we are very grateful to her for the remarkable manners and courtesy she maintained which became examples to follow for our children.
All through her days for last 9 months, she never diverted from her study (which is why she was here for) and her love towards her daughter and husband. She used to miss them every single moment. The cell phone she used didn’t have signal within her building. So she always had to come outside of the building and spent long hours to talk with her daughter and husband irrespective of harsh winter condition, study load etc. Later she started using Skype for constant communication regarding the well being of her daughter and husband. She even used to teach her daughter, helping her with homework, and many other things for example how to draw flowers through Skype. We watched her regular attempts to buy expensive toys for her daughter with her very limited funding.
She was supposed to finish her thesis writing here in Canada. She could have stayed here with this perfect excuse if she had other motive or interest. But she virtually struggled to go back home and write her thesis from Bangladesh. It was too risky to be away from her supervisor at this stage and also expensive as she needs to come back to defend her thesis. Still she opted to do so just to be with her daughter and husband. We forbade her to go back for good reasons but she plainly said she can’t endure any more distance from her family. She said it’s enough for her to be away for eight months but no more. For the same reason she deferred her PhD for one more year. In normal course, she is supposed to start her PhD from next September, but she said she wants to compensate her absence from her family by being with them next year and she only would come back for her PhD if she can bring her daughter and husband and afford to stay together. As an international student, it is very hard to afford financially if she doesn’t get good funding. So she took one year to source a good funding option.
We are simply speechless, appalled, and deeply hurt in the incident of the false accusation of Rumana’s extramarital affair.
It is such a pain to observe that Rumana only went back to her family to lose the most precious gift from The Almighty, her eyesight. We feel that it is our duty to take a very strong stance against any kind of accusation that may come on our dear friend Rumana. It is our ardent request not to put this unfortunate woman, a brilliant Bangladeshi scholar, on the guillotine of character assassination.
On behalf of the Bangladeshi families in Vancouver and at the University of British Columbia who know Rumana Manzur.
Saif Islam [firstname.lastname@example.org ] is a guest writer. He is a Research Manager at University of British Columbia, studied at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. He lives in Vancouver, British Columbia.