Carpe Diem: Seize the day my friend!

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There are some people, who I don’t get to meet very often, but are very close to my heart. Even though they might not know it, I think of them and thank them for being with me. We started our university at the same time. When I was trying to claim my space and establish my existence as a student among more than twenty-five thousand other students, these people came in to my life. They have stood beside me like a tree that you always could rely on, and you always know they would be there for you no matter what. Probably I was the same to them too. We gave each other our hands and helped claiming our place in the university life.

But my fate had somewhere else for me, so I had to leave my friends and change my university. As a result I don’t get to see my friends, who once I spent my whole day with, often. However, with the ‘blessings’ of facebook, we are in touch. I get to know what they are up to, where they are going, and what they are doing. I feel good to see their pictures and statuses because they make me feel closer to them. But sometimes I see very depressing status that say that many of my friends are depressed and frustrated with life. How sad, lonely, and discouraged they feel about life.

You have just one life and Your existence matters: “Life is a succession of moments. To live each one is to succeed.” ~Coreta Kent

There have been millions and millions of people on our earth. But how many we have cared to remember? When they died no one expect their family cared to remember them. Even sometimes their friends and family almost forget about them. So, no one can assure you that you will be remembered. But doesn’t your existence mean something? Shouldn’t people remember you even after you die? Otherwise what’s the point of living?

Tell the world who you are. Let them know you are here. Do something that will let the people to born that you have been here on earth. It might not be big, but good enough for people around you to know you and your existence. You have to live your life.  Experience your life fully and get the most quality of life out of you because it’s your life and you have to do the best with it for yourself. And live it now. Enjoy the process. The whole dream is a process but you will live every step fully in the present. The goal is the journey. That is important and it brings both worlds together: the dream and the now.

Live your life: “Dream as if you’ll live forever. Live as if you’ll die today.” ~James Deam

Imagine in 100 years what will happen. Everybody around you will probably be dead. Your parents, siblings, your relatives, friends, teachers, neighbors, co-workers, the owner of your favorite tea-stall, the people you see or meet every day, yours partners: that almost everyone you know or going to know your whole life. So, why worry so much? Why being upset with your life? We have so many things that to do, see, explore, and love. Think about the small things that make you happy: smiling at babies and when they smile back, when you’re awkwardly standing by yourself with a full cafeteria tray of food and then suddenly spot your friend waving at you, siblings night out, surprise birthday party, sudden visit or a phone call from a friend you have been thinking of, when you hug your siblings, and so on. This is it! This is the life we are here for. We must realize that the time to live fully is now. Not tomorrow when we are more rested, not next month when we are through with the exams and not next year when the kids have left the house (or fill in anything suitable thing for your current situation). It takes some courage to say completely “yes” to life. It is loosening the brakes and putting ourselves out there, for having fun and experiencing life now.

So, seize the day, my friend! You will never get the chance to embark on such an adventure again. And remember the saying by Zachary Scott, “As you grow older, you’ll find the only things you regret are the things you didn’t do.”  

Be Different! Be You!

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Have you ever felt alone sitting around your friends even if they are desperately enjoying talking about something? Do you sometimes feel what your friends talk about is absolutely tedious? I do! In fact, I am going through this for last few days. Most of my friends are spending so much time talking about the things I don’t feel interested in at all, which means I do not have anything to contribute to their discussion.

So I ask myself! What does it mean to be ‘smart?’ Is it that I have to be interested in talking about how sexy Taylor Swift’s boyfriend is, or who has uploaded their boyfriends or girlfriends’ pictures on Face book and how do they look, or whose dress is from which shopping mall? I ask myself how does not being “Smart” enough affects other aspects of my life? I ask myself is it so important to be like other?

The answer is NO! It is not important at all, if fact you should not even try, to be like other. Neither does following others affect any aspect of our life if we are satisfied with ourselves.

Not being interested in Tylor Switf’s boyfriend or issues like that does not make you un-smart. Rather it makes you intelligent enough not to be trapped by the “Smartness” dogma. You might find yourself unusual if you observe your friends who are so called “smart,” but it is what makes you who you are. And you have got to have the courage to say “I am what I am” because being yourselves is the greatest rebellion and the utmost success. And to be different is great because you don’t want to be the same.

Moreover, trying to satisfy others by forgetting who you are and losing your inner voice is not a wise idea. People usually forget the common. On the contrary, they most likely tend to remember what or who has been different. Being different might not always follows the typical trends. What is more, it sometimes might make you feel awkward. BUT it is always better to be criticized for being different than compared for being the same. This suggests that always be a first-rate version of yourself instead of a second –rate version of somebody else.

Remember what Albert Einstein says, “Those who follow the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd. Those who walk alone are likely to find themselves in places no one has ever been before.”

I sometimes wonder why it is that people think being different means being “Not Smart Enough.” However, when I see so many people are pretending to be “Smart,” but it turns out most of them are the same, I feel lucky enough to be different. So, I always remember what my best friends always tells me “Do not Be Average.”

 

When and What to Censor?

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Suppose, you are an undergraduate first year student, and you are attending an international conference.  A distinguished panel is talking about democracy. You have got some questions and you really want to raise them up. In the questions and answers section, after raising your hand several times, you have got the mike. Suddenly, one of the officers of the organizing team comes and takes the mike away from you and says “You are too young to share your ideas in front of this distinguished panel.” And you cannot share your ideas and questions. Is it called censorship? Censorship is the authoritarianism or suppression of ideas and information.  Usually censorship is about removing or putting restriction on public access to newspapers, magazines, films, books, videos, or works of art. However, censorship might happen everywhere even in our family and in everyday life; for example, your experience in the conference. My story conveys that sometimes it is really hard to justify censorship as what ideas or information should be suppressed and therefore it is a very complicated topic.

Last summer, when I was in my home, I experienced censorship though it did not seem like censorship when it happened. One of our neighboring girls named Rita (pseudonym) stole a small souvenir from my friend’s house next door though her family was well off. I and my two younger sisters came to know about it as my friend told us hoping that we could share the truth about Rita with her parents so that they can help her to amend herself. We also came to know that she stole another small souvenir from the same house before. We decided to share this with my Mother and Rita’s o parents. At first, we told our Mother everything and said that we were going to tell Rita’s parents about it. My Mother told us that we do not need to do that, and at any means we should not do that. We tried to make our Mother understand that we should tell Rita’s parents about this. Otherwise, stealing things would be her bad habit. However, our Mother said that if you tell them about it, they would never believe you and would say that you guys are lying about their daughter. They might insult you as well. She strictly forbade us to share this incident with anyone especially with Rita’s parents. As a result, the information we had about Rita was suppressed by my Mother and could not be expressed at all.

Though it seems that, my Mother took our freedom of expression away, Rita’s parents have played a big role behind this censorship. Rita’s parents used to think that Rita is the most innocent girl in our neighborhood, and she cannot do anything wrong. They blindly believe whatever Rita says. As a result, they do not believe at all if anyone says bad things about Rita. They treat them in a very bad away like scolding, arguing, and even talk phony about them. My Mother did not let us say what we felt we should say.  My Mother was forced to take our freedom of expression by Rita’s parents because if my Mother let us share the information about Rita with her parents, it might have had a bad effect on our family relationship with Rita’s family. Moreover, we would have been treated in a bad way which was not acceptable by my Mother. On the other hand, if Rita parents would try to know the truth about her daughter by allowing people share any information about their daughter, my mother would permit us to say the truth, and our freedom of expression would not be taken away.

This censorship had a short term affect on us as we were upset with our Mother, but it had a long term negative effect on Rita because she could not know what she was doing wrong. Most of the time, our Mother allow us to do or say what we feel right, so when my Mother told us not to reveal the truth, we were so surprised and frustrated. We thought that we were trying to help Rita be saying the truth about her doings so that she can correct herself. But, we were not allowed to do so.  As a result, we were upset with my Mother. However, later on, when my Mother explained why she did not allow freedom of expression, we have found her reasons reasonable because she tried to protect us and our family relationship with Rita’s family. Rita was the most affected because as her parents indirectly did not allow revealing the truth about her, so there was no one to tell her that she should not have done this. She might be doing this again and again which would guide her to a bad and negative side of her character over the time.

However, it is really very hard to determine whether my Mother’s censorship was justified or not. There was an understandable reason for my Mother behind the censorship. She was concerned about us and our family relationship with Rita’s family. She was afraid that we would be insulted and accusing of lying which might have a negative effect on us. She was also very concerned about the family relationship between two families as we have been neighbor for almost fourteen years. She had a reasonable explanation for the censorship, but her censorship suppressed the truth about Rita to her parents. Even though this censorship was my Mother’s attempt to protect us and family relation with neighboring family, it harmed Rita in the long run. Sometimes I feel guilty that I should have told them the truth so that Rita can correct herself with the help of her parents. However, I was also aware of my mother’s concern. Probably, I would make my Mother understand that despite of the chance of being insulted, we should somehow help Rita and her family in order to protect her from having a bad habit of stealing.

When I thought of this incident later, I have come to understand that sometimes it becomes very hard to determine whether we should allow freedom of expression or not, and it is very hard to justify a censorship. We should look out both sides of the story. Censorship might seem good for a certain moment or for a group of people when someone censors something. But we should think further whether this censorship will have any negative effect on people in long run or not. For example, to my Mother censoring us was a good thing because she had protected us from a bad experience, but for Rita it was really bad because it might encourage her to continue the stealing because nobody said anything to her about it. The censor seemed good and justified when my Mother censored us, but in the long run Rita was affected.

This story also reveals some important points to me about censorship like people involved in censorship, nature of censorship, and what people think censorship does. Usually we think that censorship can only be happened by the government or the authorities. However, it can occur by the people very close to us.  Sometimes we cannot even imagine that these caring people like our mothers can censor us. It also shows that we cannot always say that only mean people censor. Sometimes the people we care can censor us in for our betterment like my Mother did to protect us from having a bad experience. To define nature of censorship is also very difficult. Sometimes it brings good and sometimes causes bad to us. For example, my mother’s censorship kept us away from having a bad experience saved our family relationship with Rita’s family. In this point, it should be considered as good. However, it causes bad to Rita as this censorship did not let her realize that she was doing wrong, so it should be considered as bad. Though we usually think that censorship removes problems and improve lives, it actually does not. It may hide the truth for some time, but it creates more problems in the future. My Mother’s censorship hid the truth and might have eradicated problems for some time. But it did not remove the problems in Rita and did not improve her character or life; even it led her to a negative habit.

Your experience in the conference was clearly a censorship, and you should have not been censored. However, was censoring us justified for my Mother? You cannot easily answer this question. Considering censorship’s effects, people involved in censorship and their role, nature of censorship, justification of it, common ideas about censorship, it’s really difficult to say what and when should anything be censored.

The Teachers I would Never Forget

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1. Sarah McKinnon. The best teacher and the best person I have ever met. I met her on 23 august 2009. She was my Academic Reading and Writing teacher in the Access Academy in the Asian University for Women from August 2009 to April 2010. She was so beautiful, but what made me so attractive to her was her personality. She was like a friend to who you can ask suggestions about anything you want to. She was like a mother who used to care about your study more than you could imagine. She was like a guide who used to show you which way is good and which one is bad and which one we should choose. The best thing she did to me was she helped me to explore myself which means “know yourself.” She used to say “the better you know yourself, the better you can deal with the world.” I used to hate writing, but she made me write in way that I have fallen in love with writing. Now I write to be lost in my heart. Above all, she was a friendly, kind, intelligent, supportive, good writer, beautiful, sincere, lovely woman who helped me to know myself.
2. Biman Biharee Malakar: from my 3rd grade to 5th grade. Very supportive, kind, and sincere about students.
3. Jinnah Ali and Sanat Kumar Das: from 6th grade to 10th. Both of them were very strict, friendly, and helpful.
4. Kisor Kumar and Shamal Kumar: from 11th to 12th (2006-2008). Very strict, friendly, sense of humor, supportive.
5. Bimal Kumar Das: the worst teacher I ever had. From 11th-12th. very careless about students, used to talk bad things about other teachers, used to complain about the students who did not go to him for private assistance, used to hate me because I never listened to him and did not go to him for any private assistance.

A Journey by Train

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“Are you ok? There is lots of conflict in Chittagong. We have watched in the TV. Don’t go out of your university. No need to come home during this conflict throughout the country.”

My mother’s anxious voice makes me think for a moment. Should I go outside? Can I celebrate this Eid-Ul-Azha here at the university in Chittagong? No, no way I can be out of my home, far away from my parents, my sisters, and my only brother. I can never be able to celebrate Eid without my family. “No, Mom. I have to go home. Don’t try to convince me to stay here during Eid. Instead, pray for me so that I can be at home safely.”

There is only three days left before Eid. A lot of people, who stays outside of their home because of work or study, go home to celebrate Eid. Almost all the people want to celebrate Eid with their family wherever their family live. Eid is very important for Muslims. There are two Eid in a year, Eid-Ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Azha. After a month-long fast Eid-Ul-Fitr comes and just after two and half month Eid-Ul-Azha comes. Before Eid it having a good transportation system is very important for the government to serve the people who want to go home.

But, this time just three days before the Eid-Ul-Azha, the opposite party has called strike throughout the country because of some political issues. Last night, when I heard this from one of my friend, I got very anxious for two reasons, first, will we be able to go home safely and second, will the head of residential faculty allow us to go outside (I stay at hostel and study is a residential university)? These make me so worried about going home. Before this I was so happy because after two month I have the chance to go home and see my family. I along with some other students, who were also going home at the same time, go to the head of the residential faculty. She tells us if the situation becomes normal, I will let you go. Otherwise I am really sorry.

The uncertainty makes me so helpless. I really want to go home and see my family, but how? I chose the train for my transportation to go home. And it is going to go to the destination even if there is the strike. But if the head of residential faculty does not allow us to go outside, how can we go home? Her permission to go out was very important. I was feeling so helpless and praying to God so that I can go home. At last after a lot of uncertainty, she told us that yes we can go out, and she told us to be very careful in the road because there is a strike going on, and there might be conflict in the road and the rail station. We told her “Pray for us Ma’am. And don’t worry, we’ll be ok.”

When I come out the university gate, I was bit nervous because only few vehicles are in the road. I told the girl with me “we will be ok, right?” “I hope so”

There was no vehicle except rickshaw, and I took a rickshaw to go to the station. When the rickshaw came to the main road, I was so surprised. There are no big vehicles, but there are a lot of rickshaws. A lot of them were going to the railway station. There are a lot of people also, and everyone has luggage in their hand. Kids were very happy and cheerful. Their smile on the little cute face bring smile on my face too. The elder were also happy, but there was a shadow of tension on their face. What will happen to them if any conflict starts on the road?

When we reached the railway station, I saw a hundreds of people with at least a luggage moving towards the train which was waiting to take them home. I thought not only me, but also these people also came out to go home even though all of us were having a possibility of being attack if there started a conflict suddenly.

I got on the train; after a while it started moving forward. I become very happy. The children beside my seat sitting on her Mom’s lap started clapping. “The train starts; the train starts.”

The train comes out of the station. I looked at the sky, the bright sun, the big and long lake with crystal clear water between the rail line and the road. I look at the dancing birds in the blue sky, the sparkling of the sunshine with the water of the road side ponds. My heart fill up with indescribable joy.

The train is moving to my home. Home is where a person’s heart is, and I’m getting back to my heart. Home, sweet home…….

Honour and Pride

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I cannot remember the date but the time was afternoon, and that might be the October and I studied at 8th grade, when my mother first talked to me about menstruation. My mother saw a red mark in my shallower and told me what to do during these four or five days in every month. I was a bit surprised because I did not understand why she was saying this. I kept asking why. She told me just to do what she was saying.

I was a lag behind girl in this case. I knew almost nothing about menstruation at that age. I saw that the way my elder three aunts used to pass a certain time of a month was different then rest of the month. They were not much comfortable and cheerful during that time. I noticed that, but I never questioned them. And they also never talked to me about this unavoidable issue that a girl has to go through.

But I was happy when I saw that my two younger sisters knew a lot about it at an early age comparing with me, they came to know about it when they were in 5th or 6th grade, better than me. When they started having menstruation, they did not feel lost in a gigantic dark forest. They did not feel the feeling, as if a stranger had touched you and you could not talk about it in front of anyone especially the male members of the family, the feelings I had gone trough. They knew that they have to deal with it and they were mentally ready to do that.

In that October, when my mother instructed me to follow some instructions like how to use pad, not to eat any kind of sour, not to talk about it in front of any male members of the family, not to run or walk speedily, not to take long time for shower, not to take bath in the pond to deal with this giant monster, this was what I felt; I actually did not have the menstruation. That’s why I was so surprised and angry because I told her that I am not having this kind of thing at all, and for sure, she did not believe me. She told me that this thing happens and at first almost all the girls say the same.

I got so angry and went to the nearby primary school, where I completed my primary education and told a little boy to bring some sour fruits and I was just eating and eating though I don’t like sour at all. I took long time for shower in the pond and I did whatever she told me not to do. I did not talk with her for few days.

It was December when I first had my menstruation. I was in my grandmother’s house with my mother. She slept in another room. When I first saw the blood, I got so shocked “where is this coming from?” It was at 3 am and I didn’t know what to do or who could I talk to. I waited until it was morning, and changed my shallower several times. In the morning, I rushed to my Mom and I don’t know that I told her. I was just crying and crying.

She stared laughing and said “You told the truth first time?” I know she had understood that I didn’t lie in the October.

This time I felt that my Mom is an angel. She told to what to do, and like a very good girl I did everything she told me.

Having menstruation was the worst thing to me. I used to think that I had made a sin, and it was the punishment because it used to make me so uncomfortable in front of the people even to me sometimes.

And the most unbearable thing, which made me feel like a punishment was that the pain I have had. I felt like someone is stabbing a knife in my body in every second. I could not get out of my bed in the first day out of the four.  No one had to tell anyone of family that I’m having my four days circle. They were able to know seeing my face. But one day my perspective had changed when one of my grandmothers made me feel that having menstruation is a pride for a girl, and for that if there is some pain, it should not be a big deal.

I did not know her name. We the younger used to call her Dadi and the elders aunt or Chachi. This tall, fair, and very beautiful woman with long white hair was so special to all of us because of her wise thoughts. She used to tell us a lot of stories, and all of them had messages to take in. One day during my four days circle, as usual, I was on the bed and mourning for the pain; she came to my bed and kept her hand on my forehead.

“Having so much pain, isn’t it?”

“I have to tell you? Hadn’t you gone through?”

“Yes, I had. Child, don’t you think having menstruation is our pride?”

“No way, Dadi

“Listen beta, God has given us the honour by giving us the ability to be a mother, to bring a new life on the earth. Your regular menstruation is the sign of your maternity. I know about the pain, but don’t you think if you have a great power, you will have some ache as well for that?  It is your pride, child. You can be a mother and we only the women have that power. You should be proud for what you have. It’s your honour, it’s your pride.”

I still have the same amount of the pain that I have had from the first, but I am not critical about that anymore though sometimes I ask myself what would happen if there were no pain in this honour.

 

The Brids

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“If you stand in the balcony of my room of the hostel at Asian University for Women, just before the evening, you will see an amazing scenario. From this place, you will be able to see a big part of the sky. The west side of the sky is reddish as the bright sun is almost going to sleep on the lap of the west side of the sky. The rest of the sky is blue with a lot of floating white clouds.

Just before the evening, when pip pip, vu vu, sound of the numerous expensive cars, rushing towards the home, on the M.M.Ali in Chittagong will try to make your ears dead, your eyes will be surprised.

You will see a thousand of birds are flying on the sky. Their moving of the wings will tell you that they are tried; they have finished their work and going to have rest in their home. They do not want to work anymore. They all move their wings so hurriedly; their busy movement will easily make you understand that they want to go to the place where they belong to. They all just fly to the North-East side. You will see many trees in that side. May be that is their destination, maybe not.

You know this make me interested about them. I want to know how their movement is in the morning. Are they so busy, tired and so eager to reach the destination wherever it is?

Yes, in the morning, they are busy too and willing to go where they are going, but not tired at all. In contrast, they are so energetic, enthusiastic. They move their wings so happily. They all dance so nicely, as if it is a dance competition. They enjoy their every single movement. They fly keeping their heads up in confidence, eyes open to learn whatever they see; wings unwrap to take everything in their hearts. They are always ready to complete their responsibilities whatever that is. They will make you feel the youth.

What do you think of these two situations? I do not know what you think, but I can tell you what I think of it.

I think that the morning is the youth when you are so energetic to fulfill your jobs, so eager to learn and know everything around you, so excited to be a part of the world by your work or knowledge: when you enjoy every single step you take, you take pleasure in whatever you do, and you are so alive. This is the youth of a person’s life when you do not care about the barrier; you do whatever you want to: you are the king of your heart, your world.”

“Then is the evening the time a person is old? Is that what you think?”

“Yes, you are right. This is what I think that the evening is the time when you are old; you no longer have the energy to do whatever you want. May be you do not want to do anything: you just want rest. You are so tired, and indifferent about what is happening around you. You are just sheltered in your home. You no longer want to explore the world. You want to go wherever you belong to.”

After a long time, when Maya finishes reading this writing in her grandmother’s diary, in the next morning, she goes in the balcony of her room. She looks at the sky and sees the dancing, active, full of lives birds and thinks that ‘Yes this is called youth and this is exactly what I feel. Perhaps she has written it when she was a young woman.”