DHAKA (THE DAILY STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - A Bangladeshi rickshaw-puller who made planting trees his life's mission, died of post-surgery complications in the early hours on Saturday (Aug 12).
He was 60.
Abdul Samad Sheikh made it his duty to plant at least one tree a day since he was 12, often spending the little money he earned by pulling rickshaws.
On its 26th founding anniversary, The Daily Star in February this year honoured this nature lover, who has been known as "Tree Samad" in his community.
Upon receiving the accolade with grace, Samad shot his famous remark: "How much can I do alone? You all should plant trees."
He died of septicaemia after he had a surgery for removing a tumour in Faridpur Medical College Hospital in Dhaka around 4am Saturday morning.
Samad, a resident of Faridpur's Aliabad union, was admitted to the hospital on July 2.
His son Chapal Sheikh said, "He was recovering well, but suddenly he died in my arms."
Prof Ratan Kumar Saha of the hospital's surgery department said, "After his operation he was suffering from septicaemia. For this reason, he died around 4am."
Septicaemia is an infection caused by bacteria entering the bloodstream, the surgeon said, adding that it was a potentially life-threatening infection that affects thousands of patients every year.
The nature lover left behind his wife, two sons, a daughter-in-law, a grandson and a host of admirers and well-wishers to mourn his death.
Samad lived with five family members in two huts belonging to the deputy commissioner's office. He had no land of his own. He used to earn around Tk 100 (S$1.70) a day by pulling rickshaws and with that money bought necessities for his family and at least one plant from Faridpur Horticulture Centre.
Jagadish Chandra Gosh, a former teacher of Faridpur High School, said: "No living being can survive without trees. Samad planted many trees, which save our environment. He was a true lover of nature."
Mojibor Rahman, a member of Nirswarga Sangsad, an environmental organisation, in Faridpur, said: "A rickshaw-puller planted at least one tree every day by saving money from his little income. We should follow him. His death is a great loss for us."