They say love can move mountains, but more often all around us, we see it move people - from their comfort zone, their home, where everything is familiar, and into the unknown. That is a step Australian Malcolm Arnold took almost 17 years ago, when he left his home town of Adelaide in South Australia, and moved to Khulna in Bangladesh.
What brought him here was falling in love with a Bangladeshi NGO worker, Halima Begum. They got married in 2004 and settled in a rented house in Khulna’s Sonadanga residential area.
Malcolm who happens to be a painter, takes painting orders online.
This Australian citizen is 74 years old and has two daughters in Adelaide and a brother. His first wife left him long ago. And he has been painting for over 45 years. His paintings have sold for anything between Tk 5000 to Tk 5 lakh.
Malcolm has always lived selling his paintings but in the last two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic, sales have almost stopped. As a result, he is facing a bit of a financial crisis. Besides, he has been diagnosed with a block in his heart. He can't even stand to walk properly.
Though Malcolm’s visa is valid till 2025 and he has assets, property in Adelaide he doesn't want to go there anymore. He has unconditional love for Halima and Bangladesh. He says he wants to live in Bangaldesh as long as he is alive.
When the UNB correspondent visited the couple recently, they recounted their story of love and marriage.
Malcolm and a few of his friends visited Bangladesh in February 2001. They had a goal to write about Bangladesh cricket and publish. During that tour, while they were visiting the Sundarbans, Malcolm met Halima Begum, then a field-level worker of World Vision in Mongla.
Halima, now a 45-year old woman who works to make ends meet through sewing nowadays, said that 7-8 days after they met, Malcolm returned to Australia. But he kept writing letters to Halima.