Recently quite a few of my friends from Bangladesh – specifically at LAMB – have been posting pictures on Facebook. On those pictures you can see recognisable parts of the NGO – the pukur, training centre, living apartments, inside the hospital and so on – and I’m guessing that now the temperature will have dropped from the stifling heat of the monsoon season so people are going outside again in what, for deshis, is autumn but for us brits would be a glorious summer.
Seeing these pictures have made me awfully homesick for Bangladesh .
I can’t get over just how much I wish I was still there – or at least financially secure enough to be able to save for a visit abroad. I still feel the umbilical cord joining us with our friends, our family, over there. It’s tight, strained and painful.
At the same time, I’m writing this in my study with a nice cup of tea, Vaughan-Williams playing in the background, all my books around me and feeling very content. I have the home I wished for in a friendly, peaceful village. I take walks by the beach, sup a pint at the pub just down the road while reading a good book and – bar the lack of a very good income – I’m pretty much living the dream as a self-employed writer. And even that said about the income, I’m pretty much working solidly for editors now and the income is growing much more rapidly than I expected. Life is good.
And yet, no matter how much that is true, the pain of losing Bangladesh hasn’t abated one tiny bit. I wrote many months ago about the advice you receive, people telling you to ‘give it time’. I have; the pain isn’t receding. I seem to have something of a split personality about it all.
What I do have on my side, however, is age. Experience has taught me that things are rarely as bad as they seem and that even when things are bad, there’s always good things to be found too. So, as best I can, I’m enjoying what I have now and not squandering that pining for something I just can’t have any longer. I am enjoying life despite the grief and despite the troubles (which I won’t go into) which are in the air around me. I am grateful for my health (it’s never been better); I am grateful for my friends (both here and in Bangladesh); I am grateful that I’m able to work for myself and leave the rat race behind.
Most of all, I’m grateful for my family. While I always love them, sometimes they amaze me. Sometimes I can’t figure out just why or how my wifey is so strong and how she has the gift of getting on with people so well – much better than I do; sometimes I can’t figure out just how my son, Thing II, got to be so skilled on the guitar or have such a loving, pleasant, easy-to-get-along-with personality; sometimes I can’t figure out how my daughter, Thing I, got to be so pretty, so irritatingly clever with words and so mature. I know I may have had influence but none of those qualities fit me (least of all being ‘pretty’!) so I can’t lay claim to being the cause. All I can do is marvel at the privilege of seeing my children grow up. It’s been – it is – a rocky road at times, but they are turning out just fine.
Recently I wrote a post about pictures I took at the wedding of two ex-students of mine. At the end I tagged on a photo of Thing I and I dancing. I was amazed then that she wanted to dance with her embarrassingly loud old man. What she did next – a few days later -brought me to tears. You can read if for yourself by clicking here, if you so wish. I didn’t know she was going to write this and her words simply stunned me.
I guess that’s why I’m happy here, despite the grieving over losing Bangladesh: I’m loved – uncalled for, not deserved – but loved anyway. Yes sir, I’m definitely living the dream.