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     Volume 7 Issue 28 | July 11, 2008 |

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A Daughter's Plea

Sumaiya Ahmed
Muzaffar Ahmed a father and husband, is still missing

It's ironic how, being the youngest daughter of my parents, I would secretly pray to God that I would never have to see my parents on their deathbed. My prayers were more frequently repeated when I had to leave them behind in Chittagong and move to Dhaka to pursue higher education. Today I wonder whether my prayers have been answered and whether it is true when they say: Be careful what you wish for.

It was just another day. Just another call from Ma to find out my whereabouts. I wish I could exactly decipher what went through my head when I heard my sister say that Abbu could not be found, that after returning home at 10 from mourning his friend's death, he went to the club, five minutes away from our house.

The infrequent visits to the club were one of the few activities of my retired 70 year-old father, Muzaffar Ahmed, a prominent businessman and well-known socialite of the infamous city of Chittagong, where kidnaps and murders are just another news story.

Due to the frequent downpours that submerge the whole city, especially the roads of Agrabad where we live, he failed to return. When dawn broke, my mother, failing to contact him through the phone, sent our guard to look for him. She was only to find that my father had been with three friends at the club, who could not give his exact time of departure, but surmised that he had left at 3 a.m. when the rain had subsided.

For some reason I felt like I was actually in one of Ekta Kapoor's soap operas. I flew to Chittagong within 4 hours of that call only to find my mother almost fainting on her jainamaz, a place that occupies most of her time. I would not dare question the existence of God, but I would want to know what justice she got.

Whatever had happened is nothing but exactly what would happen in those Hindi soap operas, and just like the viewers would complain about whether this could at all happen, we were doing the same. We waited for the police to find out where this was heading. I sat in my verandah waiting to see him enter through the gate and listened to a thousand calls being made. It's funny how these activities became commonplace for the next three months.

What surprised me most was the activities of the police. I should carefully choose my words because in many circumstances we have apparently hurt their sentiments and they had the audacity to call us up and tell us that. They wasted the first two days, finding out whether the 70 year-old man had "run away" --which is still seen as a possibility by them.

He would run away because he has successfully raised four children, a university professor, a successful NRB engineer, a doctor, and finally me, still a student of IBA. Not to mention that he was a happily married and retired man living in his own house with his wife like any other retired couple.

The police further wasted precious time running to our village to find out whether he had taken shelter there. They even asked us to check every drain of the city, and the one that was the nearest to the club. Imagine our grief, when our friends and relatives were going to every morgue of the city and checking every drain, every nook and corner.

At times we received calls to go and identify the dead bodies. No matter how much I might question God's existence, the only word that came out from my lips at such a time was: "Allah." The excruciating pain of waiting for news started at the break of every dawn till our eyes shut at night due to weariness.

The waiting of the police only gave one of the friends who had been with Abbu that fateful night the time to flee. He remains absconding, leaving behind a well-paying job, even a year later. The police still complain that they have no clues to investigate with.

Of course, upon going through Abbu's file, the police came up with two GDs that were filed by him a year ago, against an individual who threatened him over a piece of land. Yes, like every other businessman, my father had committed the crime of buying a piece of productive land that was eyed by another prominent businessman who had made an advance payment of Tk 15 lakh and tried to occupy the land. This gentleman was taken on remand; but, as expected, nothing was revealed and he received bail for what one would have thought was a non-bailable case.

Since September 9, this is all that we know. We just saw the acrobatics of the police, Rab, and DB. We got the unwanted sympathies from the people. We have been suffering through immense agony. Yet, we got no justice, we got no truth.

We have been knocking every media house's door to publish our apparently "stale" news, some of whom even told us that had my father's body parts been found scattered around, it would be worth occupying their pages.

Even today, my mother believes strongly in the one above who knows everything, and still expects that a miracle would happen like those in Ekta Kapoor's serials. She still runs to receive calls, and still sits in the balcony in the rain hoping to see Abbu appear, a man who was entirely dependent on at least 10 medicines, a diabetic, a patient of open heart surgery, and one who doesn't have two spinal discs.

As for me, I want to know the truth. I want to know which tense to use when I am talking about my father: "He was …" or "He is …"

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