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February 21, 2004

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'To His Memory Do I Deposit This Wreath’
Sarwar Morshed

February is the cruellest month. The very mention of the month impels me with the spontaneity and force of reflex action to pluck from my memory a rooted sorrow which I am absolutely unable to raze out. In this month our Shafique ended his terrestrial sojourn for keeps and went to the undiscovered country from where no traveller returns. Since then bad dreams 'abuse the curtained sleep' of parents, siblings and peers. How come a boy whose heart always throbbed with enthusiasm can embark on to take such an unacceptable and pre-mature flight from the corporeal cage when he knew that he had 'miles to go before he sleeps and promises to keep'? This is anti-thetical to the personality of the vibrant Shafique who dyed his will in his noble ambition. What cosmic lure allured him to decocoon his soul from it's carnal apparel? What prompted him to take French leave and to encase himself in the subterranean dwelling? The might and magnitude of that lure unfix my hair and make my seated heart knock at my ribs. But it could not intimidate the intrepid Shafique. Why? May be he had a rendezvous with Death and he did not fail it. He was true to his pledged word. Or it may be so that he wanted to erase the written troubles of the brain which weighed heavy upon his heart. He merely cleansed the over-stuffed bosom. A big question mark. 'In the dance of life he could have spoken the parable of highest things but his grandest parable has remained unspoken in his limbs'

As a budding Journalist with sky-kissing potential, may be he discovered that this is the virtual yahooland and no human can live for a long spell here and consequently took the initiative to bid good bye to this planet on the surface of which 'odious little vermins' are swarming. He had a penchant for writing reports based on the problems of the campus that this university was his un-cri-de-la-coeur is manifest in the reports published in different newspapers including the News Today. His verve for journalism is unquestionable. To speak a' la mode T S Eliot, his university life may be measured in the coffee spoons of campus reports. He was endowed with the journalistic gift and commitment of unmasking the flamboyant demagogues, upstart nouveaux riches and perverted politicians-with his eagle eyes he could have seen through the masquerade, stratagems and machinations of the persons who look like the innocent flower but hide the serpent under it. So, why on earth should he leave his dreams untranslated into reality? Why did he carry an evergreen wreath of life to the silent isle, grave island? To be the king of all that he surveys in his celestial abode? Why did he break loose a loving embrace? For a vita nouveau? To be the Keatsian lover painted on the urn on whose face there is a perpetual fountain of vernal beauty? To be beyond temporal and spatial effect? Why become a fugitive in the prime of life? May be he wanted to be the prophet of practising the difficult art of going earlier. Shafique, why did not you resemble the rope maker? Is it because they lengthen out their cord and thereby go backward? I surmise he believed that one must discontinue being feasted upon when one tastes best.

But when sour apples are there that wait until the last day of Autumn, Why did he depart so speedily? Why should he burden us with the hypothetical 'if' with reference to his potential and compel us to have cathartic experience by unloading the cargo of his memories ,which no sweet antidote can delete? Isn't it precocious for him to become the subject of 'In retrospect' without drinking the cup of life to the lees? By every standard it is unhygienic to go the way of all fleshes at 23 in this age of 60+ global life expectancy and total body transplantation when septuagenarians are fuming for the extension of their retirement age and octogenarians writing memoirs and reminiscences by making journey down the memory lane. Certainly he did not desire to become ripe, yellow and shrivelled. May be some poison worm gnawed at his heart. Yes, it is the silent assasin Hepatitis that embittered to him his best honey and the diligence of his best bees. He may be bombarded with questions as he has become an ethereal being and part of the Omnipresent but no answer will come even though we bang our heads against brick wall. But as human beings, not automata, we keep on apostrophising, commanding the ocean waves like king Canute despite knowing that he is no more governed by the laws of biology and physics. Shafique is beyond the Cartesian 'Ergo Cogito Sum' But incorporeally he exists -not by Pythagorean transmigration but by the perfume of his deeds and behaviour, -in the minds of his acquaintances.

He is not unwept, unsung and unhonoured. He is never to be gone with the wind. He has delved so deep into the minds of near and dear ones that he will always be at an antipodal position-diametrically opposite to Lethe. He may transcend the jurisdiction of the Heraclitean flux theory-but he will continue to be in the dynamics of life. He blooms in our memory with many hued virtues. To whom has ever there fallen such rosy apples from the tree as have fallen to him? He is dead only in the Hobbesian sense (Life is nothing but a motion of the limbs-Leviathan) but a boy with Promethean spirit can never die. This is no posthumous cosmetic rhapsody. I am speaking out my heart-Shafique can never die. His frail frame may be cast in soft mould but not his will. Some thing invulnerable, unburiable is with him that would rend rocks asunder-invulnerable is Shafique in his good reputation. He has out-smarted Thanatos, burst the shackles of the tomb. His memories remind us of Nietzche

-'Where there are graves, there are resurrections'
*Lecturer, Department of English, University of Chittagong.



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