DHAKA – Hundreds of thousands of Bangladeshis turned out Monday at a university in Dhaka to pay their final tributes to the country’s most popular fiction writer, Humayun Ahmed, who died last week.
Ahmed, also the country’s top film director and TV drama-maker, died at a clinic in New York on July 19 after a 10-month battle against colon cancer.
The 64-year-old wrote over 200 fiction and non-fiction books, almost all of them bestsellers in Bangladesh, often tackling the life struggles of the middle class in lucid and easily understandable Bangla.
Police said hundreds of thousands of people had gathered at the Language Martyrs Memorial at Dhaka University to pay their last respects to Ahmed after his body was flown to the country.
Housewife Ila Rani Das, 40, told AFP she had travelled 300 kilometres (180 miles) from the northeastern town of Chhatak to bid goodbye to her favourite writer.
“He meant so much to our life. I have read almost all of his books, watched all of his TV dramas and movies. There is no one else like him,” Das said.
People queued in several lines that stretched miles, with adolescents rubbing shoulders with old men, bureaucrats, bankers and businessmen. Some offered flowers, others were in tears.
“I think since this morning several lakhs (one lakh is 100,000) of people have paid respect to him. I have not seen such a scene before,” police officer Shahidul Islam told AFP at the university.