I turned 14 today.

I’m twirling the waves of my hair with my index finger and gazing at the blue sky through my window while listening to my friend Kish on the phone. She’s telling me what she has to do next—and she sounds like she’s in a hurry! It seems like no one has time for me! Lying on my bed, comfortably numb and counting the spins of the ceiling fan, I doze off.

Our home was in a little town called Mohammadpur, in Dhaka- Bangladesh. People would come over to visit at any time of the day, unannounced.  I used to love that.

I heard the door bell and the turning of the knob, then a voice echoed in my room, announcing, “Happy birthday!” I told myself it was a dream. It had to be a dream. But it wasn’t. It was a surprise visit from my cousin Shahed, who had come to celebrate.

I jumped right up. Quickly looked for something to wear and tried to snap into the reality. I ran back and forth from the bathroom to the bedroom, accomplishing nothing, and as my excitement reached the Himalayas, I heard more people walking in. Oh! I was actually having people over for my birthday! So, finally, mom walked in with a brand-new outfit.  It was a solid white base with black flowers. She always picked the best wardrobe for me.

So was I having a birthday party? For real …?

But Abbu (my dad) was not home yet. He had told me the day before that we were not having a party as my grades were not what he expected. My mom still wanted to have one. Little did I know that they were arranging a surprise party for me! Before I knew it, my entire family,( from my paternal and maternal sides), was there. Then I figured out why Kish was in a hurry—because she needed to get off the phone to come to the party. Some other friends and both my grandmothers and my grandfather were there. How special was that?

I quietly stood by the door and glanced at the entire living room. I felt my cheeks getting wet, and I wiped away my tears as my feeling of gratitude and contentment overshadowed everything else. Each time I saw someone walk in, I wondered who would surprise me next!

Finally, I heard the horn from my father’s car and, yes, there he was. I ran down the three-story stairs as I always did, skipping one or two steps to make my descent a bit faster. As I was about to tell him what was happening, he said, “Happy birthday wasima wali 2 ( it was him and i )!” (He used to call me  wasima Wali 2). Out came a box that looked almost thirty inches tall. Oh! What was it? I had to peak.

It was a cake in the shape of a huge open book. “I bet it’s black forest,” I said to myself. I kept staring at it and wondered why he picked a book-shaped birthday cake.

Today, after more than twenty years, I have asked my Facebook friends to write to me a line or two on birthdays. It’s interesting for me to find out how people experience their birthdays, especially as I see all the similarities. Someone actually sent me a private message saying that she “did not believe in birthdays,” as each birthday reminded her of death. I believe, the priest at her congregation taught her that. Interesting, I thought. What a shame! What a waste of a human journey.

We do not celebrate any particular religious holiday. So birthdays are the most important events at my home. We even celebrate half-birthdays. We talk about and plan birthdays for many days. We pre-plan the next one. My husband might give me a list of things he would like to have on his, and my daughters know that their birthday is one day I will spoil them rotten. I always try to be there for my mother’s and celebrate my father’s (baba’s) at my home whenever I can. Each time, it turns out to be very special.

Why? Because I remember that year when I turned fourteen and my father began to wish me happy birthday on the very first day of the month, even though my birthday had not arrived yet. “Happy birthday to my Wasima Wali 2.”  By the time it was the actual day, he sang me a million birthday songs. My mother asked him one morning as he came to my room to wake me up with birthday wishes, “Why so early, why everyday”? He replied, “So that all her years in this birth and more are covered.”

I used to think that, being an only child then, I was just spoiled, and maybe I was. I thank my mother every time it’s my birthday, not only for being such a wonderful friend and an angel of a mother, but also to let her know, as the saying goes, “If moms were flowers, she would be the one I would pick.” I thank my father(baba) for always being there and supporting me in every decision I have made through out my adult life. His positive influence makes me a better person today.

But what about the cake that was there on my special fourteenth? My father always wanted me to be like an open book. He taught me to look into people’s eyes and talk. Which, of course, was not the norm in my Asian culture. He had a hard time trusting people who did not make eye contact. Ever since, I always make an effort to make a very strong eye contact. Then he taught me not to hide my emotions, as people should know me the way I am. There would be some who liked it, and some who wouldn’t. But we would not be able to make everyone happy at the same time. He also mentioned that being an open book makes life much easier, as one will have nothing to hide. Finally, he said that words are like weapons. You use them any way you would like. Enjoy reading, but also try to utilize those letters in expressing yourself. Today, after so many years, I take that advice with me toward the beginning of the rest of my blessed life.

There were five people who were there on that special birthday who are not here with me today, in this world. This tells me to enjoy today and cherish the friends and family I have NOW. With the tunes of “tears in heaven”…I am thinking of them today.  (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b6t4Zs5Yq_k&feature=related

There is nothing more precious than the friends who are with you to celebrate this special occasion and the family who loves you everyday. To me, birthdays are like being a newborn every year. Our physical changes are not under our control, but the mind and one’s soul can always remain untouched and fresh. Pure and young. Uncomplicated and divine. Passionate and sumptuous. No, we cannot control the weight of our responsibilities, but we can always carry it with a smile. Birthdays are merely a reminder of “life within self.” I say party if you can—celebrate and rejoice as it’s your day!

Today, I am looking forward to celebrating my birthday with some near and dear ones, and I am telling myself to embrace the moments with humility. While blowing out those candles, as my entire life races right in front of my tightly closed eyes, I can keep repeating: “God, may you take care of the ones who were there beside me on my fourteenth and watching me from heaven above. God, please watch over my friends and family all over and the loved ones who are here to accompany me today.

God, last but not least, “grant my family peace and happiness for ever and ever.”

Happy birthday to me. Enjoy, it’s mine.

Burqa and i…

Would you please take it off, now?” my husband said.

“But we are still at the airport,” I replied softly, getting ready to board the plane from Jeddah to Dubai. “Are you sure? I don’t mind wearing it till we reach Dubai. I do not want to get into trouble with the Saudies, you know. They have strict rules.”

Even as I answered, I was already visualizing the men walking toward me in their dishdashas—the handcuffs they were carrying even had my name written all over them. Somehow, in my imagination, they were getting pleasure from the fact that we are Americans.

I mumbled, “I hear some Saudies take their burqas off when they arrive at the Dubai airport, especially the young girls you know.” “Why is this a topic of discussion? I simply do not understand,” said my husband without whom this journey from Colorado to the Middle East would have been impossible.

I would have been prohibited from entering Saudi Arabia, let alone performing this religious ritual (umrah) with my mom and without a man. And not just any man, but a close relative such as a husband, father, or brother.

As I headed for the bathroom, a woman—fully covered herself, with to-die-for eye make-up—whispered, “It’s okay, you are safe to take it off now. Anyway it would be fine, since you are not married to a Saudi.”  The blessing word somehow turned into “honey.” Meaning, I felt blessed not to be married to a Saudi.

As I slowly tried unbuttoning my abaya,* a sudden feel of liberation took over. I started to feel the softness of Alladin’s magic rug beneath me as I floated away. I had on a full pair of black slacks, knee-highs and a full-sleeved, very loose shirt with a scarf—and I still felt bare in this country of covered women!

“Why is it that I feel naked”? I kept asking myself. It’s the concept, you see. I felt free, even as the feeling of shame took over.

I have never had anything against Saudi Arabia, but I do resent their rules and regulations. And yet … when I was wearing my burqa, my personality changed. I was more subdued and mellow. It made me feel less in control, less human. When men spoke, their voices sounded harsh. Wearing the burqa made me fear my husband. The word “oppression” suddenly gained a greater meaning.

But there was a hidden beauty. All the women around me were the same. I was not aware of the socio-economic differences. Everyone was equally covered and maintained. There was something in the concept that appealed to me.

Today, I sit here and wonder why Nicolas Sarkozy, the populist president of France, is so much in favor of banning the burqa. It is a secular state, after all. I wonder if one thing gets banned today, would something else get banned tomorrow? Sarkozy may be afraid that France is taking one step toward becoming “Islamized,” or maybe there is a top secret mission between France and the U.S. that we do not know about (wink wink). The news today regarding Sarkozy and his comments somehow gave me goosebumps and brought back my Saudi memories.

Is it the security issue? We would never know what or who is hiding behind those burqas! But would he have tried to ban the gowns worn by the Christian clerics, had they tried to cover their faces as well? I wonder.  But then I had my answer, Why should he? The Christian clerics and the Buddhist monks are not the general population, and they do not cover their faces.

Being a woman of this century, this debate is very interesting to me.  Even more so because I am a mother of two American-born girls—and really, they are my precious cargos.

All I know is, that if the security of my daughters were at stake underneath those burqas, I would ban them too!…     AMEN

*Abaya: an overgarment worn by some women in parts of the Islamic world

Burqa: The burqa is a piece of clothing that covers a woman from head to foot. There is an opening for the eyes, but the rest of the body, except the hands


  • Was it?


It surely was

he peaked-

saw your shadow,

the shadow –satisfied his soul.

For a while it did,

then he wondered-

was it really your shadow ?

or fate’s playing a joke on him?

one and then two.

is it his memory or lack of it, not sure!

but damn, he really thought it was your’s ,

to satisfy his soul.

when he called it a night-all he could remember,

gave him your support, oh! So tender.

That comforting gentleness was there –

lasted nine months or less,

but satisfied his soul,

like melting  snow when the spring shower glowed!

When it was flooding all around,

you stood by him –

made sure  to ease his pain, while it lasted.

And that satisfied his soul.

But the yearning remained –

As he craved your embrace,

while he stood alone,

by the door-

looking at the ajar ~

Hoping to satisfy his soul.

The new year is smiling at me – i know you are…

It was a wonderful feeling to open my ears on the wee hours of the 30th of December, with the tune of Didha…

This year started with some,  new friends, and a few, old friends who are very close to my heart. And over the years, being miles apart, our relationships had strengthened one way or the other.

Shania, my four year old, welcomed 2010 with rewarding excitement, toward,  the country,  yes, it was her first trip across the world to Bangladesh. Miami  to London, London to Doha, Doha to Dhaka.  She saw innocence in every angle of Dhaka. With her cold, cough, and not- so -good health, she kept smiling and said, that she wanted to live in Dhaka (especially, after she bonded with her cousin Arman). I could never imagine my American -born girl would ever say things like that. She ran and hugged my “Bubu”, the eldest first cousin/sis of the family without any inhibition.  I think she could sense the warmth and the value of it all.

Shania would stare at the starving mom begging for a penny or two and holding her malnourished child. She would return, to the room, and draw a picture for the little boy, hoping to hand it over when she saw him next. I, caught a glare in her eyes, whenever she felt the wave of insecurity. I am glad ,that she is compassionate, and I hope to continue to take her with me, every other year, so, she is able to embrace the inner truth of her mother’s roots-  at the same time ,she will better appreciate, her comfort zone, here at home, in the U.S.

Just a glimpse sometimes is not enough. It’s all in the depth of being able to empathize and appreciate the romantic side of the exotic land…

Usually, I called certain people before and after my departure, but this time the phone call I received on my way to the airport  in Dhaka to come home was a bit  different. As I answered, the voice echoed, “Ki ashlen na je? Daiyaan ke dekhlam na je”? – (“what happened, you never showed up? I didn’t get to see Daiyaan either”?)  This young girl, Jeba, helped us, especially Daiyaan, my eldest, look extra pretty every now and then. She would blow dry her hair to smooth and mask her skin with some fair polish so that she glowed! Daiyaan enjoyed the pampering, which cost her less than ten dollars and Jeba admired Daiyaan’s gentle and polite nature. She was calling to let me know that she had a gift for us. I choked. Where else on earth would I find this kind of thoughtfulness from someone who barely had any means to get by her own?

In general people in Bangladesh are very humble, sweet natured and genuine. I am sure this is even true about the Jamaat-e-Islami(the radical Muslim group). They are just horribly misled. Thankfully, i did not feel their existence one way or the other.

As I begin my 2010, back in Florida, on the fourth day of the year, I talked to one person during this entire day. I was craving not only the warmth but the pause of the constant buzzing of the phone made me feel unwanted and less important. It was just a matter of a day. The first twenty four hours at, HOME, was the most difficult re-adjustment period, especially this time around. When we get home we become accustomed to this selfish and self -centered world where, “self”, sure does come first and there is a price tag attached to it. While thinking these thoughts, I am also trying to get used to the quietness by clenching my teeth. I am determined not to keep getting caught in the “Dhaka Blues”.

I turn towards the waves of my Atlantic ocean that patiently awaits- and recap 2009. It was particularly a difficult one for me. It was not only a mentally challenging but also physically strenuous. I could actually relax and absolutely be myself for the first time , when I visited Chicago,  that summer. The trip made me realize the essence of relationships and how we tend not to notice the miracles of life. I got a grip on myself and fixed my attire to conclude the year gracefully and with respect. I would like to extend my gratitude toward, my guardian angels for their  moral support.

Looking forward to hitting THAT milestone this year. I hope i can maintain the free spirit i contain within. I will try to make 2010 a turning point and focus more on ME. How about every now and then, I take the liberty to talk about Wasima and her inner desires,her mission, her vision and her passion?  In this busy world, “me” gets overlooked and when do we get a chance to nourish it?  It may be narcissistic yes, but why not? A few moments out of an entire lifetime can be dedicated to a person, can they not?  Self-  praise sometimes is  necessary ! ( and yes, I am smiling).

Dhaka made me happy. And it takes very little. There is always someone there to give one company, even if it’s just to share a drink of water. People called me there during the wee hours just to recap their day. Yes, I may crave the attention but I was always ready to return it in double dosages.

People who know me, are aware that I am a people’s person. Warmth is, my essence and I cannot help but show my emotions. But, here is a twist. I had my palm read at a luncheon and I could not resist what she had to say about my future. She said that I should be careful about trusting people and showing my emotions as people may continuously misunderstand me. Bingo! I thought, I know, but- I would prefer not to change. Rather than suppressing my emotions, I will, try to worry less about what people would think, and I will do as I please without restraining my feelings. I never have intentionally hurt anyone,  nor will I,  lie to my self about who I really am.

Within the Bangladeshi culture, people show emotions in different ways. Showing affection through food can be one way, although that can be pleasantly dangerous. The yummiest foods are within the Bharta’s (smashed of any items possible). Some things cannot be replicated.
I can still  visualize the beautifully decorated table that Tripti displayed!!  The bharta’s at my eldest aunt-Tipsy’s, the squash vegetable curry at my youngest aunt- Tiptip’s , the olive pickles at my aunt-in-law Veena mami’s and the shrimp curry deliciously cooked by my sweet aunt- Leena… their memory still tickles my palate! I really can be shameless while indulging my favorites. Alas! Missed out on the Chittagong-shutki(a dried fish- another delicacy) bharta, at Sabera’s!

2010, I know you are smiling at me…

On the fifth day of the year, as I drive out at six in the morning to get eggs and organic milk for breakfast, I think of Hakim. He is the chauffeur my father arranged for me. He is a wonderful person with great integrity. Hakim’s father recently suffered a heart attack, but he insisted on keeping his word and remarkably kept our schedule. As soon as I arrived back in Florida, I picked up the phone and called to find out how his father was doing. “Madam, he is out of the hospital and being able to walk with a stick”, Hakim said. What a relief it was for me to find that out. But guilty feelings lingered. He shouldn’t have continued his duty after he found out about his father’s illness. As I close my eyes, I say a quick prayer for the family and count my blessings. Before going on my own way again, I also thank God for keeping us all healthy and alive.

I stand here in the middle of my kitchen and watch the day disappear, getting ready to prepare the end -of- the- day meal for the family and I suddenly get the chills . As if in a black and white movie  I see my mother-in-law’s fragile moves and the patience she shows for her children. She sat  all afternoon on the day we  were leaving Dhaka. She was not even worried about having lunch. And finally, when we were ready to have lunch around four p.m.,  she was not only gracious but she even had the enthusiasm to praise me. She watched me pack and organize and gave me company along the way.

Then we joined a family friend, Iqbal Dada uncle, who had flown all the way from Chittagong,  just to spend  two hours with us and bid us all farewell. This was just one more gesture of warmth and kindness wrapped with a token of love.

As I stand by my mother-in-law and  bend down to touch her feet for her blessings (an Asian practice, that Bangladesh has adopted over the years), I am deeply saddened by our selfishness in having to leave her there, as we are about to re-connect to our world that only was created because of her. She arranged my marriage with her son, and she is the one who always stood beside me. I can relate to her so well. We all are victims of the natural ‘selfishness’ of our surroundings, where the world easily overlooks the softness and the abundance of love. As I touch her sari and close the door of her car, she whispers, “Take care of you”. My voice slightly shakes and  I stumble, but then I say, “ You take care of YOU as well”.

We go our own way till we meet again…

today, my emotions are gulfing away in glory,
 long to be loved and to love,
is it wrong of me to feel my proof of heaven?
i did feel it once, (‘the love’), just once though,
with the absence of  words, any letters, but by a single “drop”,
 in echos,  a voice, and in a tone of care,
and it mattered.
is it childish of me to feel my proof of heaven?
i feel lonely today,
the walls around, search towards, the remaining of my innocence;
don’t want to beg or plead,
yet be rescued, like a puppy from an unleashed shelter,
is it a sin, to journey forward to my proof of heaven?
life hasn’t been there for me,
 stood by it at all times,
tell me as i keep finding myself through a maze,
am i being the moon, where you are searching for your silhouette?
tell me, is it a crime to walk towards the “color”, for my proof of heaven?
am lost today, very lost.
not sure how to lead or  be led,
is it the Torah, our father- Jesus, or in Allah, that I would render my partner?
do tell,  should i seek comfort in all?
i am not depressed, nor am i unrattled,
just for one more time, “i miss you, more”
is it wrong of me, to dive into my proof of heaven?
i feel loved today, very loved, AH! so loved-
by friends, family, people around and within me,
while, all are busy caressing self-
i carry the strength to try an bestow hope on you and i-
tell me, is it foolish of me to preserve my little proof of heaven?


I still remember the night at J. Mark’s a local restaurant, where a few of us, girls dined, calling it a “ladies night”. I brought up my frustration about not finding a place close by for our daughters and I to study martial arts.

My new friend Venessa, suggested that  I look into the neighborhood dojo, which was a sweet walking distance from our home. I did not wait much and soon spotted the name KARATE… As I opened the door, Sensei Eri greeted me with a smile, while Mr. Wheeler, the program director appeared from the left side of the room and presented me with his first question, which I will never forget.

Emotions aside: I was asked to bring Shania back that very day and I did. As I enrolled Shania and she started to get drilled to the decipline of mixed martial, my feet were getting antcy.

I was eager to feel the floor and start making the moves that easily ran through my veins. Later with great difficulty, Daiyaan joins as well… She calmly went back into the philosophy of developing mental strength, while focusing on the physical health. And it all took place while the karate forms ( ex: basic punches, upper cuts, appreciation) were taking shapes into our lives.

Our journey started then and how. Along with martial arts- as I started to read, “the power” (awesome lyrics suggested by my cousin), I was trying to figure out the meaning of “life”, itself.

As Shania graduates from “little champions”, holding a high green, with her graduating instuctor, Mrs.Melissa Eller Haley; Shania turned shy to cross her bridge towards,  the “juniors” .Yet with  pride, she managed quite well… Along with that I worked on completing my year and almost half -long- journey, from yellow to orange.

The color carries, so many told, untold and casually unfold stories. “Life” paused as the breathing lost it’s meaning. While a “LIE” took precedence in the eyes of the law and the color yellow, had to bind no barriers but break the blues to conquor the strength within.

Without the training of KARATE, and help of my friends and family, none of these would have been possible. And as the testing for ORANGE, arrives sooner than expected, by well designed training sessions by Sensei Haley, I say, “this has been the toughest journey I had to carry under this belt ( since last year feb), during my adult life.

“its not the destination, it’s the journey” … amen.

Dear Ammu (mom),

We were showered with another move in our lives. We hued and cried for the frequent ones. After a while these were not bad at all. Sure, it takes a while to get adjusted to a new area, aura, spices around the norm of life and not to mention the nature’s wonders that stares at you and welcomes you to their universe. When the coconut trees would wave hello to each other, I would yearn to find out what they are conveying. The bougainvilleas are the constant reminders of my sumptuous childhood. Where you nurtured and souled my intellect and love towards this humanity while being intrigued by the value of integrity.

Yes, with in the same country, one state can be so different from the other; sometimes the cultures are different as well. You are thinking cultures, really? Yes, John Denver’s Denver was surprisingly different from the unique diversified South Florida. Yes, the move this time took place from Colorado to this sweet, calm and content city of Light House Point. The city itself is sitting on the lap of the Atlantic.

One may dwell on the waves or wonder on the ocean in a moonlit night but the feeling of emptiness remains. A perfect manifestation of Hollowness. A feeling of the taste of pure olive oil, that gets around this warm freshly made baguette, a feeling of “Alone”.

Ammu, I made sure not to get caught  in the darkness of loneliness. I started not only to walk but to take a visit by the Marina to capture the typical life of the neighborhood. One day, by the suggestion of my friend Maria, we went to Miami to visit with a very popular Tarot card reader. She looked at me and kept staring at the cards that I so carefully dealt, and pronounced these words, ”  I see you  in the  midst of thousands of people, where it’s surrounded with creeping noise and laughter… quite often you tend to drift away from there, in the world we cannot even dream to visit… And the energy of embracing the passion for you is immense. Sometimes you have a sudden feel of  standstill. As if the world just wants to halt only for you. You, Long for the heart fluttering craving and the soothing pain that hurts. I know that you are in love, and you fight for your passion everyday… yet there is a mystery to it all, which allows you not to reach out. You will find romance, in your own way, but Alas! not now”.

She also asked me to analyze what love is at this moment of my life! (jan, 2010)

To me love is, when I see someone being crazy for music and looks for those unanswered meanings rather than the words. Love is when someone is passionate about their desires. When a person is in deep sorrow for losing her loved one but patiently awaits the future and love is when your lover closes his eyes and sees your silhouette wearing all white.

While I was asked to analyze and comprehend LOVE, I started to fathom LIFE.  I actually began to take the time to enjoy a piece, a verse or even some impulsive jumbled clusters of letters, either carried through words, music, poems or meditation. When I see a couple holding hands and looking at each other, conversing and smiling, I can tell that they are in love. When I see someone able to cherish the rhythm of the water, definitely then. When I look into the dreamy eyes of a certain paining that rests on our wall of this beautiful key western style home, I can see sadness, and longing for the touch and be loved.

Then the song again plays by my ear, “Country road take me home”  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oN86d0CdgHQ. Where is the road taking us? It is so difficult to be rooted when one is not in one place for an extensive amount of time, nor being cherished or cared for. When we are loved and with the STRENGTH of your life, you can make your home anywhere. When I look into the eyes of my daughters, I know then, that I am not only in love, I am HOME.

Mom, just yesterday, I took the little one to the beach. We hardly go there. I paid my token to go to the pier. While walking on the pier, a paper touched my ankle by the drifting wind. I was drawn into it like a magnet. The paper was open and slightly waved, pretty crisp and in the perfect position, that it would be hard for you not to be drawn towards it. I Quickly leered .

Shania grabbed it.  Beautiful handwriting. The penmanship was ungodly; it was so attractive that I felt like capturing and being smothered in the curving of the letters. Was getting addicted to the expressions and passion expressed on the paper. The note was as if the messenger was in absolute love and couldn’t bear the separation. Life, for them may not have been fair along the way either. It started off as, …  “MY ANGEL on EARTH- my sleeping beauty”…

I kept wondering what the reply of his LOVE would have been, while, in silence I dwell in the waves of the point.

Mom, I kind of found it strange that, I had to come across a note like this… but I am sure there is a reason for everything. Please keep my family in your positive thoughts. And see you soon…

Love You,

Your daughter.

written on January 2010…

cubes of Rubrick

Not again, I said to myself. I thought I was almost done with the puzzle solution, but somehow I had managed to journey far from it.

1982: I was working a Rubik’s cube, the 3-D mechanical puzzle that was invented around 1974 just a few years after I was born. ??It was easy to get distracted trying to find the puzzling solution, especially when I was bombarded with 6th grade homework and needed to take a break.

Today eons later,

I find myself, caught between similar puzzles, even within our daily deeds as an adult. So here I am, back to square one!

Similar to Rubik’s way, I tend to wonder about secrets that people carry. They nest them and then even let them hatch eggs. For me secrets are like that middle cube that we try so hard to level with … …

the one that stubbornly sticks right there. Maybe the entire idea of “this” secret is an illusion, deception or imagination. I know when God is playing a trick on me and I sure am tired of those tricks.

I started thinking of those cubes quite a few days back. But for some reason, I was not able to get past the colors. In the mean while, I was pleasantly distracted, several times, while jotting down these thoughts.

But today, thinking of the cubes, I follow up with the idea of a puzzle and completely out of context, I think about

the notion of ‘distance’. Why does distance make relationships more sweet and tender? Why is it that I get overwhelmed with multiple letters and conversations, and when the person arrives before my eyes, pretends not to look, or even to care. This happens frequently. I am puzzled. Will the cubes ever have my answer?

My puzzle of cubes, of course, intertwines with a bitter reality. I am constantly reminded that the male chauvinistic world around which my life revolves,

is geared toward –”not women.” Well, maybe an exaggeration here to make my point, but it is an example of how my puzzle reaches into all facets of my being.

My Masters degree and my several years of work experiences mean nothing when my existence as a woman is only valued in relation to my being “so and so’s

wife.” I was reminded not too long ago( by someone very close to my heart), that the reason I even get invited to the neighborhood socials is purely because, I am not only married but to a successful man. And I say, “interesting”. People seem to respect me simply for having married my husband. I guess it’s time to solve the cube before solving the Rubik’s puzzle!

As I glaze a bare -stare at the cube, my mind drifts to the photography session for which

I had so much fun modeling.I had been asked by a local artist to pose for the portrait of the “woman of passion” and as we speak, it is comfortably nesting at a Ft. Lauderdale gallery, with a price tag of $1,800. The artist converted the photograph to a spectacular painting.

While, I postured eloquently, I was asked to bring out the passion

from within. That should be easy for me, I thought, as I am all about passion. But each time the word “passion” was mentioned, I lifted my brow lines until I finally decided to feel at ease. I allowed my shawl to drop for a second or so, still, passion seemed to be so difficult to unleash. I tried to imagine, “my passion” and gradually, for the artist, my face presented with the perfect glare. Did I solve my cube there? What actually happened? Was I able to conjure up “passion” by decree or was the artist merely exhibiting expertise at her craft? It was definitely not the imagination of my desire that was glorified. It was merely the layers of make up and the perfection of the artist’s techniques that gave me what’s called a “shade of zest”!

I hold my Rubik’s cube, this drizzly morning, with some tune’s of Leonard Cohen (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WJTiXoMCppw&feature=related,)  in the back drop and I look at it with depth, integrity and skepticism. I try to smell the colors embedded, I want to feel what that bright yellow feels like, and I want to experience its wisdom. But then again, I keep staring at it in puzzlement, still left with that one question, that one overbearing middle cube…

written: Feb 2010…

It doesn’t happen that often where you have to juggle three different wardrobe while giving “globalization” a new meaning. I say, my day was the epitome of globalization to the power of infinity…
The  morning started with the humming foot steps at the dojo where Shania(our little one) trains. The matted floor was getting prepared for the demo team to conquer it… music at the back ground and I was trying to get there early to reserve the best seat in the house, so I am able to spot her clearly and with ease.  Shania and her mates are called “little Champions”. They would be preparing to demonstrate their skills that they have wrapped under their belt during the last three months. Shania, our six-year-old… well, almost seven-year old is crossing  the bridge to another color, as she is getting ready to get her belt in high green. Now, don’t ask me what color comes after that? all I know is that she will have to keep training. If you are lost in this conversation, I am talking about mixed martial arts. The karate class Shania has been attending… two to three times a week, religiously since the summer of 2010.
Before they begin, the little champions demonstrated the strength within the creed that they have to master in each class. And they are: modesty, courtesy, integrity, self-control, perseverance and indomitable spirit…with the philosophy of karate in mind as I walk out the door of the dojo, wearing a black pair of pants with a pink shirt, I carry a smile to realize that the next endeavour that I am headed to the same afternoon, would be the one, that would carry me from the mixed methods of self-discipline to the colors of the new years of Bangladesh.
While celebrating the New year of Bangladesh, the typical tradition is to wear a white sharee(Sari) with red border. I adore it.  I lucked out as I could borrow such a combination from a friend.
I carefully wrap it all around me while gathering the utmost feeling of femininity and was imagining the nature of “borsho boron (new yr), in Bangladesh.
Usually it would rain right around that time and we would be able to collect mangoes from underneath the trees after the clouds would clear. I can still smell the earth after such rain. As I approached the designated destination, I realized that, I really wanted to wear a red tip( decorative dot) on my forehead to give myself the ideal Bangladeshi look.  I was fortunate enough to be able to experience such a grand “bangla new year”, sitting here in a western land, that I, so passionately call home…
What was not there on the dining  table of Urmee’s home? It’s  given that you would have to have all the mashed (mashed potato, beans, shrimp, dried fish, eggplant, broccoli and you name it) items on such a occassion. And this would be accompanied by panta bhat( rice that is prepared overnight, with a dash of lemon, cilantro and some chilli). The most unique spread of food I have experienced since my last visit to Bangladesh. After the meal, this friend of ours prepared a small cultural program which started off with my fathers favorite poem- by Jibananda das, “abar ashibo phirey dhanshiritir tirey  ai banglay”- ” I will be back again, at this very riverbank of dhanshiri in the heart of Bengal”…I even got a chance to recite my own creation and was overjoyed to be able to share bits of my thoughts among friends.
I sat there and grasped every bit of the Bengali existence through my vain. It truly was a very pure and refreshing Bangladeshi gift to my essence. I wasn’t able to be there to watch the conclusion of the program  as I had to get myself ready to embrace another event, that evening, which was THE representation of the neighboring county of Bangladesh, Pakistan.
As I followed a friend out from that home, I was wondering about this 14th day of the month of April. I was feeling not lucky but blessed to be able to go to three different occasions wearing multiple hats.
I was driving  towards a journey where the evening would be filled with songs by Rahat Fateh Ali khan. “Teri Meri”, was one of my most favorite songs last year, since my eighteen year relationship with my partner came to a pause (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7T9BhUwmprg)
  . This particular artist is very powerful in his tunes and can turn his notes to spirituality. He carries a very sober personality and  his positive persona imprints his work.
The entire auditorium rocked with the talent of his fellow artists and he conquered every heart that was present to experience his art.” Urdu” A language that I did not grow up with, a language that sure is not an easy one either but through his work Rahat Fateh Ali khan kept the Bangladeshi audience captivated. As I glanced around, I noticed people’s body movement to rhythm the beats of the songs.  And clapping with each upbeat and smiling along the way. Such glamour of music, here in South of Florida was a luxurious treat. Before entering for the concert, I changed my attire to a pair of pants with a very bright red traditional( Pakistani) top to go along with the evening.
As I went from western attire in the morning at the dojo, to Bangladeshi Sharee(Sari) in the afternoon to accommodate the Pakistani trend in the evening,  I said to myself AH! This is globalization! The lay out of the day was colorful, with zest and yes, music was common within all aspects during the three segments of the day. Would I like to embrace another day like this? absolutely. When I wore my attire to retire for the evening, I told myself that, this was a day, where it carried the true meaning of CARPE DIEM.
Dojo: A dojo (道場, dōjō?) is a Japanese term which literally means “place of the way“. Initially, dōjōs were adjunct to temples. The term can refer to a formal training place for any of the Japanese do arts but typically it is considered the formal gathering place for students of any Japanese martial arts style to conduct training, examinations and other related encounters.
Sharee( in bangla)… In English Sari:

An outer garment worn chiefly by women of South east Asia ( ex: Bangladesh, India), consisting of a length of lightweight ( :) cloth with one end wrapped about the waist to form a skirt and the other draped over the shoulder or covering the head.
Carpe Diem: Seize the day or a particular moment.
written on April 15th
” mom, I would like for you to take care of my babies when I go to work”, “mom, please never die or get old”, “mommy I love you so much”, ” mom- you are the best mommy ever”,  ” mom, look, I have lost weight, I can be a model”… and many more of what you say echo when you are with dad over the weekend. Your sweet smile and that gentle hug in the morning, saying ‘moooooommy”, your plan for the next meal while you are finishing up one, your craving for sugar and getting your ways around it… make you the most adorable seven year old. Shania, you are sweet, smart and intelligent. You are well aware of the fact who loves and cares for you . At your age, you know how to invest and make money in your own way.🙂
Shania just a few days back, I asked you if you missed me while you were at dad’s. You said that you did but you were worried about me more. I was quite concerned. As you should not worry about me at all. I say my prayers before going to bed, so the angels can protect me.
You are a very sensitive girl Shania and I ask you often to be strong even at this age. And you ask me back saying, ” how do you become strong mom”? Being strong is telling yourself that things would be o.k. and that you will have a wonderful life. Being strong is believing that both your parents love you and your sister will always be there for you even when we are gone. Being strong is performing well at school so, nothing can stop you from shining in life.
 Shania, I love walking by the beach with you, going to your favorite place for shrimp tempura, enjoy going to invitations/dinners together and mostly I love it when I cook something for you and you cherish every bite of it. Shania I enjoy reading to you every night and recite the verses of the prayers together and you my love, I adore going through your homework and doing projects with you. I enjoy our little picnics at the park and feel confident to see you taking the right decisions when you do.
 Shania, enjoy your life and keep up with the practices of martial arts for as long as you can. You love to sing, so sing along and dance away in life. Enjoy and smile every step of your way. Shania my soul, on your seventh, I wish you a wonderful birthday and “Hakuna Matata”…
your favorite songs this year: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cy7o_jNeoEw ( shake it up) and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ON42xHMoeKs (mr. saxobeat)
favorite food: shrimp tempura, beef with basil leaf and thai roti, roast beef, magoes and the way your grandfather makes his toast with mushroom & jelly
favorite outfit: anything but dresses
favorite color: black
you love sandles and you love to dance. love to accompany your sister to green tea frap from Starbucks and boy! do you like shoes and purses :)  you love to shop and you are absolutely not into princesses this year and you think they are for babies.
favorite book to read : the giving tree
favorite t.v. shows: shake it up, i carley
you like scary movies and you sometimes talk and laugh in your sleep…
your teacher’s name is Mrs. Delouze and you can be a night owl:), you enjoy your ds and you love to color…

“You used to call your father Abbu ( father), so i think, it would be nice if you called your uncle Baba(another name for father in Bangla), says my aunt Leena as she was dropping me off at my home, from a little outing that was meant for only the two of us. My mom got married to Baba, brother of my mom’s best friend, Leena. One of the most positive energies I have been fortunate to be around since my father passed away. Almost every evening, we were blessed by her presence and I would pick up the phone anytime of the day and would have a full conversation before I would even hand the phone over to mom. Mom sure is blessed with a few good friends and I still find friends in them for myself.

As I was climbing up the three-story, instead of flying those floors that one  day, I could almost feel the imprints of my shoes on those stairs, while glazing my hand on the handrail as I wondered about my new life to the west, to Oshkosh Wisconsin. Baba has been living there since he was in his early twenties.

My bathroom mirror, in Dhaka, Bangladesh had a sticky note, in Abbu’s handwriting. It said, “Wasima will go to Berkeley to study law”. His dream was to send me there to become a corporate lawyer. He had fallen in love with that campus, while visiting the states in 1983. Well, even though; it has been good eight years since he passed away, it gave me some sort of an unknown comfort to look at those words. His handwriting would always encourage me to move forward.

If It was not for Baba, I wouldn’t have been able to dream of coming to the states. As I splashed water on my face, and those words of the mirror got clearer to me and the future seemed even more crystal. I heard my mom’s voice, in the background… kind of faint… telling our helpers at home to get the suitcases out for packing. So, I told myself, “That is it, we are leaving our memories and the home my mom so affectionately designed and decorated, behind, to pack our lives up in three suitcases as we head towards a journey to the unknown”. I WAS EXCITED though.

Unknown? exclaimed aunty Leena!! . You will have both my sons there. Shujon is even in the same school that you are going to and Shumon is in Madison. Well, I knew that. And then she added, ” you will never feel that you are without family”.

I always cherished the time I spent with my cousins while growing up.

Aunty Lenna,s exact words as I recall; ” I know your love for Bangladesh is immense, but think about your future”. Somehow, during the entire journey, from Dhaka to Oshkosh, her words echoed in my ears and the transition was made so much easier.

The most contemporary designed home that lay on the channel of lake Winnebago, welcomed us on a calm August day. We arrived right before the sun bid farewell.  I adored the priceless view of the back yard and it was love at first sight. As, I took a walk outside in the fresh air, I told myself, ” Home, here I am”. Yes, you are looking at a girl from Oshkosh, for whom Packers run a close second to God’s team…🙂