Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Lass from Bangladesh - Part V

The first day at school is only getting acquainted with the students and scanning their syllabus.

A week goes by Mumtaz is pleased with the school and her work. She loves the little children that she teaches and they too seem to react with her very well. Mumtaz becomes a very popular teacher and is admired by all her colleagues. Soon it’s Children’s Day and they have to get the kids to do something special that day. She helps the children in staging a special play and some skits. All the children do very well and all the parents have a good time on that day. When all the parents and children were leaving she notices one little boy sitting and crying in the corner. She calls him towards her and asks him “Jaffar why are you crying?” She thinks he is worried because his parents have not yet come to pick him up he must be crying .He looks up at her and cries, she hugs him and wipes the tears from his eyes. She tells him not to cry and that his parents would come anytime now. It was getting late and the teacher too was getting worried. At that moment the principal comes by and sees the little lad crying in her arms and feels sorry for the boy. She tells the teacher that he is an orphan and is being looked after by his uncle. Mumtaz asks the principal how this happened and she told Mumtaz that only a few weeks back his parents met with a freak accident and passed away so now she realized why he was crying. She knew that he must have missed his parents on this special day as every year his parents would come to see him perform and this year no one turned not even his uncle as he was a business man and was very busy. The driver was late to pick him up from school to that day.

The teacher sits with the little boy in the school lobby and waited till he was picked up. Jaffar was nine years and handsome little lad. She told him about herself and told him that she too missed her parents but that life must go on. Mumtaz told him that his parents were up there and were surely there watching over him and seen his performance. She was sad for him. She heard the lobby door open and in walked a tall man with broad shoulders. She assumed it could be his uncle. The boy looked up and said teacher my uncle is here. She thought that Jaffar looked handsome like his uncle. Jaffar introduced the teacher to his uncle Imran and his uncle thanked her for her patience and waiting until he came. He apologized for the delay and assured it would not happen. All along his conversation he kept staring at Mumtaz. Mumtaz although in her early thirties was very pretty looking. She suddenly caught him staring at her and felt a bit uncomfortable. She suddenly said that it was late and they leave. They said once again said thank you and good night and left.

That night Mumtaz was really very tired, she took a hot shower changed and went to bed. She could not sleep well she was very restless, she kept thinking of Jaffar, her herself and his uncle’s stares. It was all very disturbing. But next day was a day of surprises for Mumtaz. When she woke up she was surprised to see Nina up before her and found it very strange – she then thought that she must have over slept and work up late. And she gets ready and the transport is there to pick her up. Nina has this strange smile on her face all the while. Mumtaz ask’s her she is up to and Nina just smiles and says nothing. They reach the school. Mumtaz goes to the assembly hall; she thinks that she sees that there is a strange smile on all the faces of everyone out there today, but she cannot understand why. Then when she enters the class was a bigger surprise, she says a big bouquet of flowers at her table and then all the children stand up and instead of wishing her they sing to her “Happy Birthday teacher”. Mumtaz was surprised as she herself had forgotten that today was her birthday. Al the children bring to her little bunches of flowers and cards that they have made. She goes to the bouquet and sees a small card attached to it and wonder who has sent it. She smiles when she reads it. It was from Imran the uncle of Jaffar. Besides saying special thank you to her he wishes her on her birthday, she looks at Jaffar and sees that Jaffar to is looking at her and giving her that cute smile. She thanks all the children and they all get back to studying.

That evening Mumtaz waits with Jaffar till her goes as she was waiting to thank his uncle for the special flowers and greetings that she received. The wait seemed too long and she was getting rather restless at last he came and when he approached the boy they (Mumtaz) and he exchanged quite smiles and she thanked him once again. Later that evening was yet another surprise all her colleagues and the principal gave a dinner treat she was very thrilled and appreciated it with thanks.

Mumtaz was tired and had to call it a day. She went back to her room and sat and thought of the lovely day she had. She decided to pen a long letter to her friend Shakila. She wrote to Shakila the whole day events and also of her silent admirer or the one she quietly admired in her heart. Life went on for her. She saw life changing on the fast lane for her. From where she came and how she reached the Gulf was all one big change in her life. She was happy as she forgot about her past although at times whenever she sat back she would think of her childhood then her married life but smiled when it came to the present.

The Lass from Bangladesh - Part VI

Mumtaz was as usual on her way to school one day when she came across this good looking man. His name was Naser. He was a new teacher in the same school that she was teaching; they got talking and sort of became friends. Naser was very curious to know more about Mumtaz but she kept aloof as once bitten twice shy. Naser father was a big business man and used to run a consultancy business. One day Mumtaz asked Naser what his father was doing and he said my father sends people to the Gulf to work, he arranges for visa and does all the formalities until they go to the Gulf. Now this idea sort of interested Mumtaz. She thought to herself since she had nobody left here only for her friend Shakila why not go to the Gulf and work as she had heard that there were lot of opportunities to work in the Gulf.

One day she approached Naser and asked to make an appointment with his father. So the next day was Sunday and so she went with Naser to his father office. His father saw her asked her why she wanted to go to the Gulf all of a sudden. Mumtaz told him that she did not have anyone left here and only a friend so wanted to see what was life in the Gulf. Her father told her that he would let her as soon as some good opportunity comes up and in the meantime she would have to make a passport for her. Luckily for Mumtaz an opportunity came sooner than she accepted. Her passport was ready and her visa too had come. She was sad to leave her best friend Shakila but promised to take her too once she was settled in the Gulf.

The next day she was ready at the airport to the board a flight going to Bahrain. She was happy, sad and excited. , as it was going to be a whole new beginning for her. Naser father told her not to worry and that someone from a school in Bahrain would come to pick her up at the airport and take her to her accommodation. She hugged and kissed Shakila her best friend and boarded the flight for Bahrain.She got a window seat and like a little child she looked out of the window to see the world pass by under her. She was in the clouds and she felt as she was in heaven. She suddenly felt as if she was going to heaven as all around was thick white clouds. She sighed a relief when suddenly she heard the big machine make a noise and heard the captain telling them all to fasten their seat belts as they were ready to disembark at Bahrain International Airport in a couple of minutes.

Mumtaz’s heart was beating fast and she was bit nervous. The plane came to a halt and all the passenger were alighting from the aircraft. She too alighted picked her baggage from the counter and went to the counter where her visa had to be stamped before she exited. All of a sudden from the glass she sees a big placard with her name on it. She waves at the man who is holding up the placard acknowledging her presence. She stamps her visa and goes to the man who is standing there. He greets her and he tells he is the driver of the school and has come to pick her up.

He put the baggage in the trunk of the car and she sat in the back seat. As the car started off she was like an excited child looking at the new place and world she has come to. She could see that all the women wore Abhaya’s and the men in Dishdasha’s. She found it a bit strange but she knew that in the Gulf the muslim were very strict where their clothing was concerned. She reached her accommodation a small flat. There she met her room-mate (Nina) also a teacher in the same school. Being the first day she did not get sleep and was alone in the room as her room mate had gone out. There was a TV, so she turned it on and was watching the news channel. She kept awake very late and then heard a click on the door – she was glad that finally her room mate came. They sat for a while and they deicded to call it a day as the next day would be another new big day for Mumtaz in a foreign country.

It was 6 am on her watch, so she woke up and found that her room mate was still asleep. She took a shower and was getting her clothes ready to go when her Nina woke up and asked her where she was going so early. Now Mumtaz did not realize that there was a two hour time difference, so it was actually on 4 am when Mumtaz woke. Mumtaz smiled at her. Nina went back to sleep as school began only at 9 am and there was a lot of time to get ready. Mumtaz took a back seat and just relaxed. She was thinking how her life is and thought of her lovely childhood days, then when she got married and now she is here. She thought of her friend Shakila, she missed her a lot already. So she grabbed a pen and thought that she would pen a few lines to her. She seemed to have been really lost in her writing and her thoughts about Shakila, when Nina wakes up from her sleep. It is 7:30 am, they both start getting ready to go to school. Nina tells her that a transport will come to pick them up by 8:30 am so they have enough time to have a quick breakfast. Nina briefs her about the school, its envoirnment and the students. Mumtaz is very happy and when they reach the school. The principal Mr. Patel comes to greet her. He takes her on tour of the school and shows her the class that she would be teaching. The children are very excited to see their new teacher and they greet her with a big “Good Morning Mam”.

The first day at school is only getting acquainted with the students and scanning their syllabus.

The Lass from Banglasdesh - Part III

Now back to the city Mumtaz found work in a small school and used to teach the little children there. Her grandmother too passed away that week, she was sad that she too had gone but was happy that she had tended to her in her final moments.

Many proposals came for Mumtaz, but Mumtaz never wanted to get married she never wanted to part away from her uncle and aunty the only relatives that she had. Her uncle told her that she was a grown up lady now and she had to move ahead in life. He told her that they were getting old and did not know how long they would be able to look after her. He told her he wanted to see her happily married & settled in life before they both passed away. Mumtaz kind of agreed but very hesitatingly, she made a deal that she would marry on one condition that she would be able to live with them and care for them until they were alive. So the deal was done.

Mumtaz married Tahir one spring day. There was a big wedding reception and Mumtaz was looking very beautiful with the jewels that she wore that her mother had left back for her. She did miss her parents very much that day.

Tahir ran a small grocery store. He was a nice man and she was very happy with him. Her uncle gave her his house as her wedding gift and some jewellery from her aunty. Life went on, Mumtaz would go to teach at the little kindergarten and Tahir to his tore. Days and months passed that summer, her uncle passed away and in another month or two her aunty too passed away. Mumtaz was very sad as she had no one left in this world except her husband. Life went on. Tahir business grew and grew, he managed to buy two stores now and was becoming a big man. He told Mumtaz that she should stop working and stay home. Mumtaz was on her way to motherhood. She too thought it would be good idea as she was getting tired and soon the baby would come. So Mumtaz decided to stay home. It was September and one night Mumtaz felt pain and was screaming, she yelled for Tahir, he came running and then rushed her to the hospital. At the hospital they rushed her to the maternity ward; Tahir was very anxious and happy too. He had no relative himself as he too was an orphan and was brought up by a distant aunt who passed away when he was old enough to stand on his own feet.

The doctor came out of the Operation Theatre – Tahir ran up to him and asked the doctor – the doctor looked at him and said –sorry we could not save the baby but Mumtaz your wife is fine, she had some complications and the baby had actually passed away on the way to the hospital. Tahir was very sad, but glad that his wife was fine, he went inside the ward and sat beside. Mumtaz did not know what happened. She was sedated and deep in sleep. He just held her hands in his hand and stroked it. She stirred a bit and opened a eyes a bit. , she saw Tahir sitting next to her but fell asleep again.

In the evening when she regained consciousnesses she asked Tahir where the baby was. Tahir did not know what to do but explained to her that not to worry. He told her the child had passed away on the way to the hospital, she began to weep, and he consoled her and told her that they could have another baby, but he was glad that she was alive. They discharged her from the hospital and she came home. She was very sad as she had prepared a special crib for the baby but alas no baby. She asked Tahir to move the baby crib and all the d├ęcor that would remind her of the baby. She requested Tahir if she could go back to her teaching for which Tahir agreed as he knew if she stayed home she would suffer from depression. So in October Mumtaz goes back to her teaching and is very happy to be back with the kids.

It was Eid so there was a lot of preparations going on Tahir too were very busy with his store running with full business. Tahir started coming every day late from work and Mumtaz would be asleep by the time he got home as she to used to be tired after her teaching at the school. It was very strange although they lived in the same house and slept on the same beds life was different. Mumtaz hardly saw him or got to talk to him. Even on holidays he would spend his time at the stores that he owned. The next day was Eid and Mumtaz was busy cooking while Tahir walked in by midnight. She was glad to see him, but she found a strange look on his face. She asked him if he would like to eat but he said no and that he had already eaten and come. So he took a shower changed and went straight to bed. Mumtaz tried to talk to him and asked him if had invited any friends over for eid. She said that she had invited a few of friends from school and if he could join them all for the Eid celebrations. Tahir turned away and said no and that he was too busy. Mumtaz felt a bit hurt but just hid her emotions she did not want to feel sad on Eid day.

Eid day was very busy all her friends came over and they ate drank and chatted for hours together. One of her friends saw a picture of Tahir and her and said to “Mumtaz so that is you husband Tahir” she said yes with a blush on her face. But she found her face sort of different and she noticed a sneer on her friends face Shakila and asked her why that smile on her face. Shakila did not want to upset her and said nothing. But the next day Mumtaz got hold of Shakila and pulled her aside and asked her the same question. Shakila told her that she was not sure she should tell her but since she insisted she would tell her. They both met in a park after school and Shakila told her a story that would change Mumtaz’s life completely. She told her that he Tahir was having an affair with another lady by the name of Latifa and that Latifa was Shakila’s neighbour that is how when she saw the photo she was shocked.

That day was a dooms day for her, when she got back home very confused and rejected in life, she waited up to meet her husband, but he did not turn up. She fell asleep waiting for him. She waited a whole week but there was no sign of him. She had fallen sick due to depression and had stopped going t school. Shakila her friend came to visit her and told her that she would try to talk to her neighbor Latifa and tell her what was happening. So Mumtaz was kind of okay. She waited next day for Shakila to come. Shakila came to see her but with bad news that he Tahir had gone ahead and married Latifa a month ago. Mumtaz just fainted; her friend sprayed some water on her face and made her sit up. They two sat talking for hours – Mumtaz was very hurt but she wanted to know why Tahir married another lady and what was lacking in her that he found in Latifa. She nor Shakila could not come to any conclusion. Mumtaz and Shakila became very close friends. Mumtaz accepted Tahir being married again as in the muslim custom the man is married to marry again by just saying ‘Talak’Talak’Talak” thrice. (which mean divorce, divorce, divorce)

After a couple months she spotted Tahir he tried to avoid her but could not and so she confronted him, she asked him why he had left her for another, when he told her that he loved kids and wanted to have kids of his own, but learnt that Mumtaz would not be able to bear him anymore kids. She was shocked at what he told her. He told her he knew it the day they lost their baby at the hospital, the doctor had told him that Mumtaz would not be able to get pregnant again. From that day he had decided to find another wife. He told her he did not want to hurt as she was already going through so much in life. Mumtaz had nothing more to say. She left him standing there and went her way.

The Lass from Bangladesh - Part II

It was a long and dusty way they had to change two buses before nightfall. They reached the next morning.

At the bus-stand her father washed her and freshened her up, they had some breakfast and went to the uncle house in a cycle rickshaw.
Her uncle was delighted to see them but sad that he had lost his sister-in-law. He hugged little Mumtaz and took her in. He gave her a doll to play and while she was busy Pasha related what happened in the past week. He then asked his brother if he would keep Mumtaz with him, his brother was very delighted ofcourse. But he was worried would Mumtaz stay without her parents. Pasha stayed with his brother for a few days while Mumtaz got accustomed to living with her uncle and aunty and one fine morning Pasha left back for the village. He was very sad to leave Mumtaz with him but knew that she would be well looked after by his brother. He kissed the little one while she was still asleep and left the little pouch what her mother had given and left.

It was a new day for Mumtaz when she woke up the next morning she never really missed her dad as she was kind of used to him and her uncle going to market. Her aunty gave her some breakfast and she went to play with her doll and the other children in the neighborhood. When evening came she missed not seeing her dad and asked her uncle where he was. He told her that he had gone back to the village but would return soon, she was happy with his answer and went back to her playing. She had a very long day so fell asleep early that night.

Mumtaz was admitted to the nearby government school, she was a very smart girl and stood always first in the class. Many of her friends would ask her where her parents were but she would always tell them that they were in her village and they would come to fetch her once her education was over. Mumtaz was growing up soon and tomorrow would be her thirteenth birthday. She was anxiously waiting for her dad to come.

Next day she woke up early in the morning wore her new dress that her uncle had bought for her and was waiting anxiously by the door for her parents to come. Her uncle had been to the market and on his way back had been to the post office. She saw him coming and ran to him and asked where and when her parents were coming. Her uncle had a slight smile on his face, but he just took her home and sat her down, then he told her that he needed to talk to her. He told her that she was a big girl now and it was time he spoke to her.

She was very confused but sat down impatiently for her uncle and aunty to come and talk to her. Her uncle held her hands in his and her aunty gave her the little pouch that her mother had given when she looked into the little pouch she was very happy to find some jewellery and money she asked them who gave it to her and they said explained to her that when she was 6 years old her mother had passed away, and she had left this pouch for her. She then asked for her dad not moving her eyes fro her uncle, he told her that last year that he too had passed away. She was very sad and sobbed. She asked why she was not told earlier about them. Her uncle explained to her that he had promised to keep it a secret until she was old enough to tell her about them. She sobbed and sobbed. Her uncle and aunty hugged her and let her cry. She then turned to her uncle and aunty and as if in gratitude she gave them a kiss each. They were very delighted and knew what that meant.

Today Mumtaz is 21 years old and beautiful damsel. She had finished her education and done a course on Montessori. Her uncle and aunty too were getting old, she was great help to them and loved them very dearly. That year she went to visit her village and looked back at her childhood. Her grandmother was very old & withered. She(grandmother) could not recognize her (Mumtaz), she just murmured something and smiled at her. Mumtaz felt sad and saw how frail she was, she asked her uncle if she could take her along with her to the city, her uncle agreed and together they all came back to the city.

The Lass from Bangladesh - Part I

Bangladesh is a country situated on the Indian subcontinent in the southern Asia.
Bangladesh means “Land of the Bengali people”

They are famous for their hand crafted & woven goods.

Chittagong is another big city which is overpopulated. On its outskirt lived this small family. Muhammad Pasha, his wife Banu and daughter Mumtaz. MP would toil in the paddy fields while his wife worked on the woven goods. Little Mumntaz a toddler would tag along with her mother everywhere she went.

It was one of those days where Banu was really tired, she gave little Mumtaz some food to eat and went to take a nap. When Pasha came home he found his wife sleeping and when he tried to wake her up ,he found her body very hot and burning with fever, he saw little Mumtaz also asleep besides her, he picked up the little one and put her in her bed to sleep and then went out to call the local doctor. When the doctor came and checked on Banu he found that she was turning red and had very high fever. He advised Pasha that he should take his wife to the city hospital which about 10 miles from where they lived.

So quickly Pasha packed a few clothes and picked up little Mumtaz and together with his ailing wife they left for the city hospital. She was taken in an emergency. The doctor prescribed some medicines and told Pasha that she needs to be kept at the hospital under observation. So Pasha along with little Mumtaz waited in the hospital lobby. Pasha was very hungry and so was little Mumtaz so he went to the cafeteria outside the hospital to have some snacks. They both returned back, by now little mumtaz was getting sleepy and crying, she was asking for her mother. Pasha was getting worried and went to the ward to look upon his wife. He found her looking so pale and tired. He felt sad that she too had to work because his wages was not enough to look after the three of them and his old aged mother too who lived with them.

The doctor came out and told Pasha to go home and to leave his wife here and that she was very ill and needed lot of care and attention. He told Pasha that he hoped Banu would get better tomorrow so that he could take her home. So Pasha along with little Mumtaz returned back to their village on the outskirts of the city. Pasha took Mumtaz to his mother and she slept with her. Pasha was very worried as the doctor did not tell him what was really wrong with his wife; all that he told him was that she was really ill and needed a lot of rest. Pasha was restless the whole night, he woke up early next morning and instead of going to the field he went to the city to visit his ailing wife.

The doctor was waiting for him and he too was anxious to hear about his wife. The doctor asked him to sit down and offered him a hot cup of coffee. He asked him how many children he had. Pasha told the doctor that he had only one little daughter who was then 6 years old. The doctor asked Pasha who else lived him in his house, Pasha was confused why the doctor was asking so many questions but he answered him humbly. Now Pasha was getting very restless then asked the doctor “Doctor could you please tell me how is my wife Banu today?” Can I take her home? The doctor did not know what to say but with a hand on Pasha shoulders he took him to his wife. Banu looked liked she was asleep, but when Pasha went close to her he saw that she was no more. He began to sob loudly and hugged his wife. Then Pasha asked the doctor please tell me what happened to my wife. Why ?why? Did this have to happen to her. The doctor felt very sad but explained to Pasha that his wife was ailing from long time but maybe she has never told him. She knew they were very poor so could not afford to see the doctor. Pasha was hurt and broke down. The doctor told Pasha that his wife had died as the fever was very high and had gone to her brain and caused her a brain stroke and she passed away in the early hours of the morning.

Pasha was too shocked for words how could his wife left him alone to look after little Mumtaz, he was immensely hurt as he could not afford a doctor and that his wife had his her illness from him. Before he left the hospital with the body of his wife, the nurse came up to him and gave him a small bag – she said that his wife had regained a little consiouness and ws asking about her daughter and husband she then handed over the little pouch and told her that it was for her daughter. Pasha took the little pouch and and opened it in it her found a ring, a pair of earrings and a chain. , and some money which she had managed to collect when she was working.
He was very touched and cried and cried till he reached home.

His little daughter came running to him when she saw the big white vehicle stop in front of their house. His mother too was came out to greet the daughter-in-law but alas only to receive her dead body. The old lady began to weep loudly holding Mumtaz close to her chest; she (Mumtaz) did not know what was happening. A lot of neighbors came and Mumtaz was wondering why they were all fussing while her mother was asleep. Mumtaz was kind of excited to all of a sudden see so many people at her house, she ran out to the yard and began to play.

Banu was laid to rest that evening in the village cemetery. Pasha came home to a home where there was only his daughter and mother. He looked at her innocence and was wondering how would he be able to take care of her as his mother too was very old. He just held her in his arms and cried. Mumtaz asked the father a couple of times where her mother was but he could not explain to her and said to her that her mother was very ill and that God had taken her away to his house. She asked if her mother would come back for which he had no answer but tears rolled down his eyes. That night Pasha could not sleep he thought of his lovely hardworking wife and he lost her leaving their little daughter for him to look after. He was lost in his thoughts as to what his daughter’s future would be.

Pasha had a brother who lived in the city. He was married but never had any children. He worked in a silver factory. Whenever his brother came to visit them at the village he would always tease his brother and say “brother give me your daughter” I will look after her”. Now Pasha remembered these words and decided to take his daughter next day to the City. Little Mumtaz was very happy to go back to the city and that to her uncle’s house. She rose early in the morning. Her grandmother dressed her up and packed a little snack for her and some clothes. She bid her grandmother a farewell and she and her father left for the city of Dhaka.

An ode to the Kitchen

K Keeping it prim and proper is our duty

I ideally ready for a place to cook

T trying to make the best special dishes

C catering to every hungry tummy needs

H home to the handsome/beaustiful CHEF

E enjoying creating new receipes

N never forgetting KTICHEN is the place for the hungry.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Why oh why

Why do I keep going to him,
when he can give me no more,
why does he make false promises,

why why do I get hurt,
when I know he does not love
me anymore,
why do I keep running back
to him for more.

Why why does he play the fool
with me and hurt me more,

am I meant to be played around
and tossed like a toy?

Why why do tears fill my eyes,
when he fools me with his
false promises

Please oh please tell me
why do I love thee so much more!

Sunday, February 4, 2007