A story carried in accompaniment with a picture in a vernacular contemporary is more than heart-warming. Published on the last page, it tells about an off-track passion and noble mission of a man in his mid 40's. Maruf Kain by name, the man has been rendering, according to the report, humanitarian service comparable only to Missionaries of Charity-famed Mother Teresa who was later conferred sainthood.
Maruf's unswerving service to mentally unsound and physically bedraggled souls -- mostly avoided by all - is even more remarkable because he did not take any formal religious vow like monks and nuns of a church or any organisation. His is a vow he made to himself quite early. Although he started his life's journey like any other youth in a village, the urge to help the wretched with no one to care for started to mount within his bosom after he had his own family.
With a bachelor degree he obtained in 1998, he even got married two years later before embarking on a business venture for a while. But it was during his job at a missionary hospital that the man's resolution to dedicate his life to the service of the most unfortunate and helpless took shape. The day he found a woman in her mid 50's with sores all over her body and messy hair lying on the side of a village road in Parbatipur, he knew what exactly his calling was.
He took the most important lesson of his life. It came naturally to him. No educational institution can match the insight he obtained. If only the educated and moneyed people developed a similar insight!
Not only did Maruf rescue the woman but cleaned and took care, with help from his wife, of that woman at his home. The woman recovered fully but failing to locate her address, he took her to a nearby women's home. On his return he saw a man of about 35 years old lying unconscious at Parbatuipur Railway Station. Passers-by were trying in vain not to inhale the repulsive stench coming from the naked man with putrid sores on his legs.
It was his prompt action there that showed why this man is an exceptional human soul. He managed to wrap the unconscious man with a gamchha (towel-like piece of cloth) and after much persuasion made an auto-rickshaw driver agree to carry the man to Rangpur Medical College where the doctors offered treatment on condition that Maruf cleaned the man. He did so under the instruction of the doctor. He spent quite a few days there but to his agony, the patient could not be saved.
These two incidents are enough to highlight that here is a man whose heart bleeds for those people whose life is on the line and there are none to take care of them. Maruf has not only left his hospital job for giving full time service to the insane, abandoned and the uncared-for, but also has managed to build two houses on a plot of land he bought for living. But instead, the brick-walled and tin-roofed houses are now used as a shelter for such mentally unstable vagabonds. Now there are six female inmates there. For space constraint, homeless male cannot be accommodated. But over the past three years as many as 26 such mentally and physically ill people -both men and women -were nursed and returned to their families on recovery.
Maruf's mission has gone so well with the villagers that 69 families each now donate a kilogram of rice on a monthly basis. Besides, a 31-member committee of his organisation, Glory Charitable Organisation also helps. This is important. He has been able to inspire friends and sympathisers to make the journey together. With limited means, Maruf has worked wonder. Had she been alive today, Mother Teresa would be delighted to learn there is a pure and loving soul in Maruf exactly the likes she adored in human beings. She might be bestowing from heaven blessings on this man from Bangladesh on his journey to immortality.