• Thursday, March 05, 2015


Dear Bidhu Kaka,

Mirza Momo Ushra
Photo: Darshan Chakma
Photo: Darshan Chakma

Amidst the many affluent households in just another area in the metropolis, rests a small five-storied brick house. The different floors sit vacant -- no furniture, no television, neither are they in possession of ceiling fans. I see the resident of this red brick house, Bidhu kaka. Bidhu kaka occupies a little room on the second floor. It can accommodate four people comfortably, thus making it a fitting home for Bidhu kaka and his wife and two daughters. The only other occupant of the rather spacious house is a 7-month-old Alaskan husky. The dog however lives an old man's life; he struts aimlessly throughout the building, hardly causes mischief and eats its meals in silence, a lot of silence. Bidhu kaka swears to have never heard the mutt bark or even grumble a bit when struggling with its food.
Bidhu kaka lives quite a contented life. The owners of the house live abroad and send in the money to Bidhu kaka every month in exchange of his labour. The owners are not in knowledge of the dog's presence at their house; Bidhu kaka let it stay with his family when the helpless and rather dirty pup showed up at his doorstep months ago. “Just a week,” he had said to his daughters. Bidhu kaka's days start with grocery shopping for the small family, cleaning the house, watering plants and cooking the daily meals. I see Bidhu kaka every day, playing with his youngest, one-year-old daughter and brushing the lawn afterwards religiously. I sometimes see him hanging clothes on suspenders, or just sitting with the dog staring off into the distance. I don't know why but in his glassy eyes, I see worry. I can tell how tensed he is about the future. I see him watching and smiling inattentively at his daughters as they run and giggle and chase each other.
On his limited wage, he feeds his family well enough, dresses them in decent clothes and leads a relaxed life altogether. He frets easy, though. He regrets not being able to dress his children nicer, not being able to enroll his daughters to school yet, and his inability to reassure them of his return home from the market each day given the country's volatile political situation. He worries about the uncertain and hazardous life that his daughters will have to lead. His concern for their safety grows stronger each day.
It's Christmas, Bidhu kaka, and I see you observe the neighboring houses adorned with little lights. I see the lights and colours reflected in your daughters' eyes. They stand still and look around. They hear the songs and smell the aroma of freshly baked goods; Christmas is a celebration for all now.
Bidhu kaka, your daughters will not receive the imported kameezes that fall to their toes. Your daughters will not travel in the yellow buses that carry children to private schools, nor will they know the perks of shopping at big malls with central air conditioning. Bidhu kaka, I write to you because I see you leading your ordinary life in your ordinary clothes with your lack of manners and etiquette. Bidhu kaka, I see you worried and concerned. Yet, I see you so contented and happy with your children and your life seems so much effortless than all of ours -- with our big belts, heavy wallets and shiny shoes. Bidhu kaka, lastly, it saddens me that you will never know of this letter. You will never read or comprehend these words because your father could never afford to send you to school.
I just hope and pray that your daughters don't have to be in your shoes. I hope your daughters are able to read these words some day and I hope they get to live the life you wish for them.

Published: 12:00 am Thursday, January 09, 2014

Last modified: 9:41 pm Thursday, January 09, 2014

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