Page 35 - Foreign Service Journal - December 2012

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A Joyous Reunion
By 1991, 30 years after we had last seen Nitun, we had retired
from the Foreign Service and were living in Annandale, Va. One
day Bangladeshi friends of ours—Wahed Hossaini and his wife,
Arzina, who lived in nearby Springfeld—told us that the artist
was scheduled to travel through Washington, D.C., with his fam-
ily. He was on his way to Syracuse University to enroll his daugh-
ter before continuing to London on business. Would we care to
attend a small informal gathering to greet and meet Kundu, his
wife and daughter?
Meeting Kundu at the reception was a true pleasure. We
talked about his career and what he had been doing since we
last saw him. His accomplishments were extraordinary. Kundu
talked about the work habits he developed while working for the
embassy and how he had applied this knowledge and the art of
dealing with foreigners to his endeavors in the commercial and
business world. It was this focus that had most contributed to his
success, he told us.
In 1971, after serving 12 years with USIS, Kundu had left to
take part in East Pakistan’s war of liberation. Tis was the inspi-
ration for his most famous work, “Shabash Bangladesh” (“Bravo,
Bangladesh”), the largest sculpture anywhere in the country.
Kundu refused to accept any remuneration for the work, which
is installed on the campus of Rajshahi University, the country’s
second-largest university.
Over the next quarter-century Kundu won many prestigious
national awards for his art, including the Ekushey Padak (for
which he received the very gold medal he had designed to be
conferred on its recipients), the National Film Award, the Presi-
dent Gold Cup and the Natun Kuri Award (given by Bangladesh
As if his creative endeavors were not impressive enough, in
1975 Kundu launched a highly successful commercial venture,
Inspired by the 1971 Liberation War, “Shabash Bangladesh” is
Nitun Kundu’s most famous work. The structure at Rajshahi
University, a tribute to the fallen freedom fghters of the Mukti
Bahini, is the largest sculpture in Bangladesh.