Posts Tagged ‘loss’

Today, the heavens opened and rain poured liberally on my new home town. Your old one. As I stood looking outside my thoughts flit, as they often do, to you. There was a time when you were the first and last person I contacted on any given day. There was a time when you knew my every thought, feeling, action and dream – sometimes before I had even said a word. The fact that this is no longer the case still hurts.

There is no communication between us and I wonder how we got to this point. I recall writing about friendships drifting together and apart a while ago, but I never imagined it would foretell the future of our relationship. Ours was a friendship forged by the stars. And now the words “goodbye my lover, goodbye my friend’ ring in my ears as I write this. For you loved me in a way I didn’t know I deserved.

I don’t clearly remember our first meeting, but I remember the subsequent ones, the constant surprises in our conversations when one stated a fact about themselves and the other said, ‘me too!’ Brought together by endless similarities, our age, our friends, our families, our situations, heck even our geographical location! (to think you lived on the next street for so many years without us meeting!) Our conversations were epic. Epic. In you, I found a confidante who listened, who never judged and who was always there.

It helped that we were going through the exact same things at the exact same time. For a period of several years our lives took the same trajectory and we had the same struggles, thoughts, fears and dreams – made the same mistakes and bore the same repercussions. And then you moved to Canberra. At first it wasn’t so bad, you came to visit regularly and whatsapp meant our conversations could continue regardless of the newfound distance. I didn’t see it then, but that was when the trajectories of our lives took slightly separate paths. In the years to come we grew apart but neither of us felt it acutely.

And then it happened. Suddenly there came a day when not only had I not spoken to you in weeks, but I couldn’t even recall the last time we had spoken. Nothing had happened to cause the rift but time and distance. There had been no fight, no argument, no one single thing that would mark the end of a friendship. This is probably why it has taken me so long to process this ending. It completely blindsided me. One day I knew you were in my life and the next – you were not. You called me from the plane to tell me you were going to get married. You had boarded the plane and the call was your closure but it took me completely by surprise. My rock. My support… was going away. I felt a gaping hole and a growing sense of betrayal. But now, I understand. We had discussed so much, I knew too much. I was a constant reminder of your past at a time when you were trying to move into your future. I know this because I was trying to do the same.

In the days that followed, like it always had, our lives mimicked each other. We had finally met and married those elusive men we had spent countless hours talking about. We married within days of each other without consulting each other, or without introducing each other to our new best friends. And it has been months since, now living in your old hometown that I drive by places we had been together, that I recall something you once said.

On one of our many walks you told me you dreamt that I would marry a man that looked good in a Panjabi and stubble, one that recited poetry, and we would live in a place with French doors opening out to a forest. My love, you are gone from my life today but your dream is my present. He does look good in a Panjabi and stubble and he does recite poetry to me on our balcony with the French doors. We live in Canberra which is filled with trees and this gift you have given me of my present lacks only one thing. You.

I know the heart is not an infinite thing, I know life is constant change and that maybe in order to make room in our hearts for our new best friends we had to say good bye to each other. But I will not for this life is constantly changing and it may bring us together again one day. Till then I hope the dream you dreamt of my present is as sweet as the present you have. I hope our countless hours together bring a smile to your face if they ever cross your mind and I hope, so very much – that you my friend have found a new best friend worthy of your love.


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It saddens me that I have to write this blog entry. It shames me as a human being that such acts take place in our world, a world of human rights, progress, equality and kindness to all. And yet, it happens. And it needs to be discussed so that no more victims shy away in shame and their perpetrators go unpunished.

The moment I got to Bangladesh I was guarded constantly by my aunt, uncle, father or cousin (male). As a woman who roamed freely in and around Sydney city this was frustrating enough without the obvious impositions on my privacy as well. When asked for an explanation I got the following stories which left me open mouthed and sick to my stomach. The first was relayed by an aunt, who, upon hearing me say my mum worries too much replied, why shouldn’t she dear? The world is not what it used to be, even men are not safe these days let alone women going out alone. Only the other day I read in the paper of a young doctor who paid a house visit in a village nearby and had to stay the night at the patient’s house. During the night the guard of the house knocked on her door, she thought something must be wrong so she opened the door and the guard tried to rape her, when he was unsuccessful he slit her throat.’

This is not an isolated case. Rape has become increasingly prevalent in the subcontinent. Another case was relayed by a friend who is an intern. Another intern at the same hospital was on night shift on the top floor of the hospital and was raped by her fellow interns and guards. Victims of rape and their families are so ashamed they hardly ever follow through and press charges and these heinous crimes go unpunished. Soon after, the now infamous case of the Delhi gang rape hit headlines. When I first saw this news air on BBC, I couldn’t believe my eyes. A moving bus, a city like Delhi… this didn’t happen behind closed doors.  The public watched. And they did not react. Humanity died on this day.

Rape is such a taboo word. Gang rape even more so. People say it in hushed tones and avoid discussing it in front of children. What good is that if such a cruel act happens in Public?! Why are women so unsafe in such a modern and educated world? One of these women wore hijab, the other was quite old, the other with her boyfriend. These men do not look at what a woman is wearing or doing or saying.. they do not consider anything but that she is a female and they are sick and twisted! What are we doing wrong that such disgusting things have to be borne by women who have done nothing wrong?!

Education is the key. These men… if they can be called that were never taught to respect women. They were never taught any manners, they were never taught right and wrong. If they were, then they would never have done something so despicable. In a country where the female population outweighs the male, it is still the male that is taught to be the master, it is still the male shown in movies that aggressively chases the girl. It is still the female objectified and revealed in media and advertising. This is the culture and society which breeds such filthy acts. A society in which woman are objects to be attained, not respected. In which woman are things to be defiled and not humans to be treated with kindness and respect? This is the society we live in. And we call ourselves human.


I blame the media. As a freelance journalist I am ashamed that Journalists do not do more to bring to light such acts and ensure through proper coverage that these acts are properly punished. I blame the education system for failing to teach men and boys to respect women. To respect the sex that bear them, nurse them, feed them and take care of them. I blame the families who fail to teach their sons that a woman is someone’s mother, someone’s sister, someone’s wife.

While I thank God that I live in Australia everyday, even here women experience domestic and sexually aggressive violence.  FaHCSIA reorts that “Around one-in-three Australian women have experienced physical violence and almost one-in-five have experienced sexual violence since the age of 15. For certain groups, this statistic may be much higher.” The Australian Government though, has made a concious effort in recognising and dealing with this issue. Who can forget the “To violence against women, Australia says No.” ad campaigns that flooded our televisions and raised awareness of White Ribbon? Information on The National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010 – 2022 (the National Plan) is widely available and transparency is key to educating society on such an important issue. This is what countries of the subcontinent need. India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and even the Maldives need education, policy reform and most importantly a root culture change in their way of thinking and addressing rape and issues of violence against women to avoid any more cases like the Delhi incident.

This woman has not died in vain. She has brought to light an act which thousands of women endure all over the world. US soldiers defile women in Iraq and Afghanistan on a regular basis. No one says anything. In Syria, Women are raped, tortured and left to die, their brothers and fathers shot in front of them and no one says anything. A small article in the last pages of a newspaper does not do justice to the pressing issue of the DEATH OF HUMANITY! 

May Allah swt safeguard us and our loved ones, May He keep us on the right path and allow us to speak out and act out for what is right. Ameen.

A girl lights candles during a candlelight vigil for a gang rape victim who was assaulted in New Delhi, in Kolkata

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December 2012 saw me travel around Bangladesh doing all sorts of stuff! This post is going to be quite long and eclectic in its collection of topics but I hope you enjoy it. This holiday was kind of disappointing in that it wasn’t what a typical holiday used to be. All my cousins were either overseas or busy with work so the regular caram sessions, late night antakshari rounds and endless gossip was non-existent. It might be a testament to my age but this holiday was more about networking, dinners and meeting new people which was fun too!

My main tasks in Bangladesh were to do the following which I talk about in my other post:

1. Complete the handover of incubators and phototherapy units Probasy had raised funds for all year
2. Find out more about what Prothom Alo trust does
3. Meet with the people at Muslim Aid to see what they do and how Probasy can help
4. Meet with the team at D.net behind their info lady campaign
5. Go to Bhola on a teaching campaign as part of Co-Id. The NFP founded by Fred Hyde.

My first week in Dhaka made me re-evaluate all my plans with the news disseminating warnings of hortals and protests which had become so innovatively disruptive that they now lit fires in the middle of the roads and smashed windscreens of moving buses and cars. The second hortal I witnessed saw the mindless killing of Biswajit Das. The net exploded with criticism of the government and media “Biswajit was stabbed to death after falling prey to violent clashes between the student wing of the political party in power and that of the opposition. It has been alleged that taking him to be a member of the opposition party, the cadres of the government’s youth wing beat up Biswajit and then repeatedly stabbed him with sharp weapons in broad daylight and full public view. Later, the youth died on the way to the hospital. The shocking event took place on 9 December, 2012, during an 8 hour road blockade programme organized by the opposition.”

This was only the first in a series of events and stories I heard and saw which opened my eyes to the reality of a Bangladesh the people living there try so hard to communicate to us NRBs (non-resident Bangladeshis). Working, moving around, getting things done in Bangladesh is next to impossible. Even planning two things in one day is too much to ask for. I was so disappointed with how everyone acted and reacted in a country that has so much to offer and be self-sustaining. I also saw hope though, I met some remarkable individuals working for some great organisations striving to make a real difference. While I was unable to make a trip to Sylhet all the other things on my list were successfully ticked off and the NGOs were amazing… but more on that later.

Before I get to the amazing work being done in Bangladesh I have to mention the events which took place in Bangladesh while I was there which set the context for what Bangladesh has become. These are set out in more detail in my other post on Rape. Having set this context in which men and women are unsafe in the streets for no good reason, you can see why Bangladesh has become once again worthy of the title so aptly given.

Once known as the bottomless basket case, Bangladesh was so named due to the endless stream of donations pouring into the country which disappeared without any improvements to the country or its people. When France donated millions through the Food for Work program to build and improve Bangladesh’s roads as well as give rural families a proper income, it was a great idea that worked properly for only a short while before some bright spark decided it was easier to just pocket all the money. To this day Bangladesh runs on donations. I would go so far as to heartbreakingly call my country one that is run on begging. The US, Australia, the UK, and China are the biggest donors to Bangladesh and millions of dollars are poured in to alleviate poverty, improve nutrition, healthcare and infrastructure. 95% or more of this money never reaches the people. It is used to line the pockets of the rich who go onto weekend shopping sprees in Singapore or to buy luxury cars and houses in forging countries while more and more of the poor become ultra poor.. or dead.

This scenario is only aided and abetted by the ridiculous and farcical politics of Bangladesh. Just thinking about it makes me angry. Two women with no credentials, no history of success and only their male relations to give them any credibility have lasted decades in a feud which sucks the life and liberty out of Bangladesh. Even a caretaker government couldn’t salvage and restore order. Politics is prevalent in every aspect of life in Bangladesh, be it trying to get a job, booking a hall for a wedding, trying to buy a house or car. It’s just crazy. And it’s making the people crazy. The bangalis I once knew who laughed and smiled and showed endless hospitality in the most adverse of situations are now narrow minded and self serving. Not only do adults act this way, they teach it to their kids. On 16th December, Bangladesh’s Victory Day celebrations were in full swing and in the spirit of celebration I gave some chocolates to a group of kids standing in the street outside our house. There were about 6 of them aged between 5 to 10. All of them tried to grab as many chocolates as they could. I said that if they didn’t take one and move aside that no one would get any but alas there was no brotherhood or love between these children. It was a ‘I’ll take what I can and run’ mentality that I saw all too prevalent in their adult counterparts. When I went to Bhola to teach at the schools run by Co-Id, the teachers and students alike were more focused on what gifts we had brought than what we were saying.

It is truly disappointing to see such a beautiful fertile country with such wonderful people being degraded to fighting over menial things as the politicians and the wealthy suck the life and resources out … literally. Bangladesh is floating on gas and yet gas is not available in homes almost all day, being siphoned off and sold to other countries. This is the context for the work I am about to relay. If your still with me and despairing.. don’t. There are organisations like Prothom Alo Trust, D.Net, Muslim Aid and Co-Id that are trying their best to lift Bangladesh out of the hole it’s dug for itself.

Chartiy in Bangladesh has details on what I saw, where I went and who I spoke to so please have a read if you are interested and contact me for any information. Their work is truly inspiring and restored faith in me that there are people in Bangladesh who think beyond their own pockets and the here and now. Bangladesh is a lush and plentiful country which produces so much that its inhabitants should have hearts as big as their rice fields. It is a shame that this is not the case. I hope the next time there is cause for me to visit my birthplace again, it will be to witness a better Bangladesh.


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I Chose You.

Spinning dreams from romance novels
Watching others love and lose
I sat patient, sometimes impatiently
But I chose you.

 Petals wilted and the leaves they darkened and fell
On a short sharp winters night
We first clashed – then met
And I chose you.

Time would not let us mature
Love soured and I tasted bitter anger
Separately we cried – turned away
Still I chose you.

Sitting alone while the years have passed
Wondering where all that time has gone
Everything I gave you – my hope, my heart
As the first tears fell – I regret that I chose you.

I looked up to the blinding sun bursting through the leaves
A new bud burgeons with the promise of a bloom in the morrow
A morrow of hope renewed, of life without you.
I chose you once, not anymore. 

The sunlight warms my battered heart
Falls on my skin and winks at me with promise
Today – here and now
I choose Me.

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All I have are Fragments
Bits and pieces of who I was
Fragments of a memory I wish wasn’t real
Fragments I’ve been trying to piece together.

Wondering where I fit
In the shards that I have left
Those are things that belong in the past
But they will not stay

And I must dust them off and learn
To tell their story.


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Valentines day Lamentines day

Yes. As you may have gleaned from the title, I am not a big fan of Valentines day. Now before you dismiss this as another rant from another disgruntled and envious single person let me tell you that this ‘rant’ is more a discussion of what Valentines Day is, was, and has become rather than a lament.

According to various legends it can be gleaned that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. At the time, Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families and so he outlawed marriage for young men who he deemed to be his crop of potential soldiers.

Enter our ‘hero’ Valentine who realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death. While in prison waiting for his death, Valentine fell in love with a young girl — who may have been his jailor’s daughter — who visited him during his confinement.

Before his death, he wrote her a letter, which he signed “From your Valentine,” an expression that is still in use today. Now while this all sounds very well and good – I really do not understand why it would lead to an international kerfuffle.

While the legend is of an appealing, sympathetic, hero, the fact remains that this man was a Saint. A saint who was condemned to death. A saint who may or may not have played idly with the feelings of a much younger girl whilst awaiting his death.

So what about all this incurs any sort of excitement to tell your loved one that you love them? If you truly love someone, wouldn’t a hug everyday be more indicative and leave a lasting impression than a bunch of roses once a year?

Surely we as a society are not that blind as to accept the shameless promotions from the media who encourage us to consume and be consumed on this day with an overload of hearts frills and fluff? If you really love someone, you will realise that Valentines day is a disrespect of true emotion based on the delicate actions of a man that lived long long ago to make loads of money. Forego it. Give your loved one a hug every so often and that’ll do the trick!

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City of secrets

Spiralling curves and mini gargoyles
Towers turrets and trombones
A white flag waving defiantly
Here the occupants – just you and I
This here, our city of secrets be. 

Time doth stand still for the lover
Space maketh way for a symphony sweet
Like a carousel locked in timber fine
Everything stands immobile till we meet
Here, in our city of secrets. 

A past we do not care to remember
No future for us awaits
The present is all that we savour
All that we can hope for
Stolen moments of pleasure in time
Here, in our city of secrets.

For both time and space will not align again as such
Fortune will not favour our union a second time
The accidental first must be enjoyed
In all its ephemeral beauty and pain
Only here, in our city of secrets.

Reality will divide the fallen lovers
Life shall conquer them individually
Pulling in opposite directions – never to meet again
But the fallen shall remember
Stolen moments of pleasure in time
In their own city of secrets.

                        – Shafeen Mustaq [24/01/11]

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