This is a translation version of the original video documentary which was than transcribed and translated from Bengali to English. A book with the title of History of Bangladeshis in Greater Manchester has been published and it will be distributed to the libraries, schools and universities. The interview took place on 30th July 2009, so information about his personal family information may have been changed.
8.8 Alhaj Rois Ullah
8.8.1 Life in Bangladesh:
Alhaj Rois Ullah was born in 1930 in the village of Moinpur, Chattok, Sunamgonj. His father’s name is late Ayub Ullah Master. As the son of a school teacher, he was not able to get more qualifications. He did concentrate on education as his mind was set to do something else, after that he migrated to the UK.
His father had huge sums of land; he’d employ workers to do the cultivation. Income from the teaching and from the cultivation was sufficient to maintain his family without any difficulties. The financial status of the family was also good due to the earnings of his father. The village economic condition was good, also was the socio-culture. During that time everyone lived friendly and peacefully and the old people were also highly respected and loved by all.
There was peace in the society because there was no jealousy. The correctors of villagers were very good too, so there were never any corrals or fighting. Although the majority of the people were dependant on agriculture there were not any high ambitious disease in their minds and hearts. Therefore, the people were happy and peaceful. He found those days were really beautiful and everything quite stunning.
“Today’s present is a bit different from the earlier time. Today’s present is quite devoured by drugs and drunken issues. The past we know no longer exists. People’s feeling and attitudes toward each other is vanishing.”
The majority of Bangladeshi people were dependent on cultivation, only a few had the opportunity to do different things. Earnings from selling crops were sufficient to meet the general expenses of the families. The prices of goods were very cheap, now day’s people want to earn more money and most of them are running after the wealth, but no peace and happiness.
He made his quick remarks by saying “the main reason for unhappiness is that people are forgetting Allah (the creator)”. He was very active in the sports; in particular he became a good football player. He earned name and fame as a football player and became very popular in his village.
At that time there were three football teams but they did not have any individual team names. All of the football teams were known as Moinpur Football Teams. He was confident as a right forward and as a striker position.
He played against different towns and cities, i.e. Balagonj, Sylhet and Sunamgonj. He recalled some of his football team mates; those are Abdul Kuddus, Afruj Miah, Abdul Wahab, Abdul Rashid and Modoris Ali. He was very keen to be a football player, which was the main reason, not to complete or make any progress in education.
8.8.2 Journey to the UK & Immigration:
In 1961, at the age of 25, he came to Britain with a labour voucher. At that time people came to UK with student and medical vouchers. He came to know many of his friends including one of his cousins had come to the UK, and then he decided to come to UK.
He flew from Dhaka to Calcutta by Air India, and then soon arrived at London Heathrow Airport. When he arrived at the London Heathrow airport, he had shown the address to one English man. The English man then told him to follow him as he was taking him to the train station.
He had taken the train from London to Coventry. The English gentleman told him, as soon as he arrived in Coventry, then he needs to show the address to the Taxi driver. The taxi driver then would be able to take you down to the destination address. He did the same thing and arrived at the house where his relative was living. He did not notify his relative that he is coming to the UK. So when his relative seen him that he has arrived in the UK, he was surprised. He stayed there for about six years.
He has been living in Hyde, Cheshire for nearly 40 years. There was a small Mosque in Hyde. He has taken initiative along with Mr Abdul Jalil and Abdus Subhan. They were able to purchase a warehouse, which has been converted to a proper Mosque. Similarly the Hyde Bangladesh Welfare Association was established and provided services to the Community. Since the foundation of two establishments he is involved with its activities.
8.8.3 Employment & Business:
In Coventry (1961), there was a bread factory known as “Sutton Bakery”. He started his first job at this company. He used to work 6 days a week, 12 hours shift and his wages were £13.00 per week. He used to give all money to his relative. His relative used to give him £2.00 – £2.50 for his pocket expenses and left-over money was kept as savings. After that, he continuously built up his savings. In 3-4 years time, he had about £12,000.00 – £14,000.00 in his hands.
He went to Bangladesh and upon his return re-joined with the same factory in Coventry where he had previously worked. At that time the weekly wages were £24.00. He became a sleeping partner at a well-known restaurant in Hyde, known as Dhaka Restaurant. He did not work in the restaurant until 1969. He decided to give some time with the business; therefore he finally came to Hyde, where he is residing now. He worked there as a chef and earn good money. After receiving the drawing, they used to earn £200.00 – £300.00 profit per week.
In 1981, he went to Bangladesh with his family and stayed there for six month. Upon his return, he found that his other partner did not pay the VAT and his name was misused and therefore, he decided to close down the business. Later on, he opened another restaurant known as Raj Mahal but could not succeed, therefore had to sell this business. Since 1985 he did not set up any more businesses and chosen to give some times with his family.
After about a year later, he bought a house for Ullah. The price of two bedrooms house was only £150.00. He reflected his Coventry life and said the toilets were outside the house. He used to go to the public bath once a week. There was not central heating or no bath inside the house. The people used to use coal for fire and making some heat.
The weather condition was so bad; sometimes the water pipe had been frozen due to cold weather. Sometimes it was difficult to open the door due to heavy snow fallen. The people used to cut the ice in order to open the doors, he can’t forget those days in 1960’s having to cope with the bad weather and the icy cold.
8.8.5 Social & Family:
During the post liberation war, he decided to bring his wife with him and duly applied for entry clearance. When he arrived in the UK with his wife, they did not have any children. In 1981, he went to Bangladesh with his wife, 4 sons and 1 daughter. He stayed there for about six months.
He is a father of five sons and one daughter. All of his children are married accept for the youngest son. Two of his sons are involved in curry business and there other two are working in different sectors.
He decided to go to Bangladesh to see his close family members and to get married. He stayed over a year and got married and returned to UK.
8.8.6 Independence of Bangladesh:
At the time of independence war with West Pakistan, he used to get letters on regular basis and he was informed that the condition of the country is getting worse. He was worried but could not decide what to do, as he was afraid for his life. One day he received a telegram from his father-in-law, he had written that Mr. Ullah’s house has been raided by the Pakistani Military and his wife is living with the in-laws.
Eventually he had to fly from London by PIA. When he arrived at Karachi Airport, his passport and hand watch had been ceased by the Immigration Authority. One of the officers informed him that it is not possible to fly any aircraft to Bangladesh due to the risks of being killed as the war is raging on. He had to stay in the Airport for one night. On the next day one officer came with the information that flight to Bangladesh has been arranged.
Finally he arrived in Dhaka safely. When he arrived in the area of Biswanath, Sylhet, he came to know that the Pakistani Military are killing ordinary people. He could not find many people in the town due to the people hiding in different locations. He then went to Sylhet town and arrived at a Hotel known as Ramana Hotel, Zindabazar. He felt just a little bit safe but still worried about how he would go to his in-laws house or his house in Moinpur, Chattak.
When he was travelling from Biswanath to Sylhet, during the war period, he was really scared for his life. After he had a meal at the Hotel, he spoken to the restaurant owner, he told him that he wants to go to Raynagar, where his nephew was residing. The hotel owner arranged a rickshaw for him to travel there.
He arrived at his nephew’s house; his nephew’s family was surprised and shocked to see him in Bangladeshi during the war. He stayed there for one night and on the next day; he went to his in-law’s house. He seen the condition of that area was quite and safe as no military was there. He stayed there quite few days, after that he had rented a house in the Sylhet town.
One day he suddenly heard that there were huge bombardments going on in the area of Dupder Lake. He went to his next door relative’s house to review the situation. He moved to his relative’s house, where they made a bunker to hide and protect them. He sent his wife to his in-law’s house by hiring a baby taxi. During the liberation period, he was in Bangladesh and had seen the war.
When the war was over, he went to see his house. He has seen that there are so many bullets that have hit the walls. He has seen many bullets had entered his house. He thought Allah has saved them. He said he took the correct decision, firstly to send his wife back to her parent’s house, where there is no war and secondly he went to his village home. Otherwise, they would have been killed by the Military.
He believes “post is not important at all, you need a good intention to work for the community” he added. He also said working for the community is a good charity work. He also said “You need to work towards developing the community, not to see your personal gain”.
There are many relatives living in Bangladesh and he travels to Bangladesh on regular basis to see his close relatives. He wishes to retire his life in Bangladesh but it is very difficult decision to make considering all his children were born and brought up in the UK.
He believes that coming to Britain has helped him achieve his primary goals. The children have been educated and established here. Living in Bangladesh, the objective may not be achieved. He has six brothers and three sisters. Three brothers living in the UK, one sister residing in Bangladesh, two sisters passed away. There was a time when only families were living in Hyde. Now over a thousand families are living in this area. The total Bangladeshi population is about 8-9 thousands.
Finally he said, if you are honest and want to help the community, then the new generation will be benefited from this.