When the 1971 Liberation War was going on in Bangladesh, thousands of young and hot-headed men walked out of their homes. Rising up to fight for the sake of their motherland and their freedom, they were selfless. Amongst the rabble of those men, stood a person who never chased any glory or personal gain, just freedom — my Uncle.
He is not my uncle by blood. My parents met him in college and the three of them had a heated argument about politics, and they never stopped arguing. They argued until Uncle’s children were born. They argued until I was born. They still argue even when they became old and boring, but they never got bored of each other. In the midst of all this arguing, my parents found a brother and I found my Uncle.
Life gives us reasons to keep living in the form of many blessings. Uncle was one such blessing. He adored me more than words could contain and took me out for the most exhilarating bike rides, despite my mother’s strong disapproval. He laughed at the lamest of my jokes and gave me piggyback rides. He was beyond the label “Uncle.” He and I developed a bond that was like no others and I could not even think of losing it, ever.
But I did. It got to a point where Uncle and I met once a year. What happened? Well, what always happens. Life. We moved to different cities. My parents made new friends. So did Uncle. But that one time a year that we did meet made me feel like I was a 3-year-old little girl pretending to be an aeroplane as Uncle lifted me up and ran all across the room. Some bonds are timeless and distances are just numbers. No worldly variable can inflict even a scratch on them.
I noticed how over the years Uncle never forgot to wish me and my brother on a single birthday. I noticed how his children grew up to be wonderful human beings, just like their father. But what I did not notice was, as I grew up, Uncle grew old too.
He was way older than my parents when he joined college because of the gap from education he took during the war. So as I turned thirteen, he was not the strong man I remembered anymore, physically. Mentally, he would always, always, always, remain the strongest man that I have ever had the fortune to encounter.
Kidney failure and multiple strokes dared to take the glint away from his eyes, but failed to. Till the end of his time, I do not think anything ever could. I went to the hospital to visit him with my parents one chilly evening. When I saw him, I stood there, he laid there. He could still speak. But we did not need words to speak. We just stared at each other with tear-filled eyes. We were both saying our silent goodbyes and silent please-stay-wells. I was saying silent thank-yous. He knew.
As we were about to leave the hospital, my mother reprimanded me for not talking to Uncle. He said softly, “We did talk. You won’t understand”
That was the last time I ever saw him. For a very long time, his wife could not really accept that he was not there anymore. She still pressed all his clothes, fluffed up his pillow before going to sleep. Uncle’s death shattered everyone. But I did not let death take away what life could not.
Uncle was a blessing to any and every life he touched, especially mine. Death cannot take that away. Death cannot take away all the laughter and memories. Death cannot take away that guardian angel whose presence felt like a sanctuary. Death cannot take away the ones you love. They remain, within you and what you do to keep them smiling and proud as they watch from up above.
Edited by Victoria Lee