Zaman, Selina Bahar
Zaman, Selina Bahar (1940-2004) Parveen Sultana Chaudhury, popularly known as Selina Bahar Chaudhury, and after marriage Selina Bahar Zaman, was born at Kolkata on February 15, 1940. She was the eldest daughter of Habibullah Bahar Choudhury and Anwara Bahar Chaudhury who were known for their progressive and non communal attitude. The influence of the father who was a close associate of poet Kazi Nazrul Islam and Ananta Singh, the revolutionary leader, the organizing experience which he acquired as the Calcutta Mohammadan Sporting Club Football team leader and the organiser of the Bangio Muslim Sahitya Samaj, and also the impact of the devoted teacher, writer and social activist mother and aunt Shamsunnahar Mahmud greatly impacted the life style of Selina Bahar since her childhood.
Though her school life started at Kolkata it ended at the Qamrunnesa School at Dhaka after the family's migration following the Partition of India in 1947. A brilliant student, she passed her Mariculation Examination in 1954 securing 2nd position among the girls. After graduation with Honours in Mathematics she passed her M. Sc from the University of Dhaka securing first position in first class in Pure Mathematics in 1960. Starting her service career as a Lecturer at the Eden Girls’ College, Dhaka, she went to the UK for higher studies on a government scholarship. After a long successful teaching career she retired from the Jagannath University College, Dhaka in 1997 as the Head of the Department of Mathematics.
Selina Bahar left her imprint on various aspects of socio-cultural life. She joined the Radio Pakistan in 1950 as a juvenile artist and excelled in recitation and dance. Her keen interest in dance and drama continued during her period of study at Dhaka University. Her participation in the dance-drama ‘Chandalika’ at Curzon Hall stage in 1957 was an epoch making event for a Muslim girl to dance in a public function.
Her earlier interest in the publication of book found expression in the juvenile literature like Pikur Chhagal (goat) and Bulir Murgi (hen) (1978). The Bangla Academy published her first mathematical work, Number in 1986.
Her pastime included the collection and caring of the rare documents and souvenirs. Her collection titled Nazrul Pandulipi and edited by her was published by the Bangla Academy. The other valuable manuscript, Nazrul’s Dhumketu was published by the Nazrul Academy. Besides, the Muktijuddha Jadughar, Bangla Academy, Bangali Samagra and some other institutions have been enriched by the rare souvenirs and documents donated by her.
Selina Bahar Zaman’s multifarious socio-cultural contribution did not end there. At her own expense and putting tremendous pressure on her health she engaged herself in publishing some valuable commemorative volumes. With the re-printing of the Habibullah Bahar Smarak Grantha (1995) started her new phase of literary work. Jahur Hossain Chaudhury Smarak Grantha (1996), Anwara Bahar Chaudhury Smarak Grantha (1997), Shamsuddin Abul Kalam Smarak Grantha (1999), Shamsunnahar Mahmud Smarak Grantha (2002), Begum Rokeya Smarak Grantha (2002) and Shaukat Osman Smarak Grantha (2003) completed the list of this genre. Her latest remarkable work was the compilation of letters of some luminaries of colonial and post-colonial period titled Kaek Chatra Praner Patra (2004) containing 86 rare letters and 51 photographs.
Selina Bahar’s last piece of literary work, Pathe Chale Jete Jete, remained unfinished and unpublished because of her sudden death on 4 December, 2004. [Shirin Akhtar]