The Indomitable Spirit of Dilara Begum
My sister Dilara Begum passed away last month. She was the 8th in line amongst the siblings of late Khan Bahadur Abdul Halim Chowdhury. Her other brothers and sisters include such luminaries like National Professor Kabir Chowdhury, Shaheed Munier Chwodhury, Col(Rtd) Abdul Qayyum, late Professor Nasir Chowdhury, renowned cultural personality Ferdousi Majumder and Professor Nadera Begum, a pioneer in the movement of womens' rights of the 1950s. Dilara Begum was popularly known as Dilu both in family and friend circles.
Dilu Apa as I used to call her was an extraordinary woman the kind rare to come by these days. She was a mother par excellence, her love and affection knew no bounds. She was the very symbol of love and affection for the entire family but also for those who came into contact with her even for a short period of time. Anger and jealousy were unknown to her. She was like the Talisman of the family. Any one in distress for whatever be the reason would run to her for solace and comfort, Being kind and generous came naturally to her. Ever since the passing away of our mother over ten years ago she filled that vacuum as our second mother. She was loved and liked by young and old including children. Dilara Begum was a protector of the poor and an ardent advocate of the downtrodden.
She was moved to the BIRDEM cardiac centre where she died after a lapse of hardly three days and passed away peacefully. Dilara Begum prior to her death had undergone excruciating pain all over her body for as long as two decades, following a surgery. She taught us, how to live a full life even under acute pain and in dire distress, day in and day out. For the past few years she passed her days in a special chair in the confines of her apartment and yet she ventured to go out whenever there was a family gathering on some special occasion. She was the classical example of what we call, mind over body. Despite all the pain and discomfort she carried herself with utmost dignity and grace. She seldom talked about her pain whether in family circles or to outsiders lest others become unduly concerned. She left behind her husband of 50 years who happens to be seriously ill himself. She was the focal point of her family until the hour she was moved to the hospital, deeply involved in directing and running the affairs of her family sitting in a chair, cutting vegetables, directing the maid how to clean the floors and wash clothes, keeping an account of daily expenses, including monitoring family bank accounts, so on and so forth.
There comes a time in the life of even the bravest when one has to bow down to the will of Allah. About a month before her death she told one of our younger sisters that it had now become nearly impossible for her to bear the pain and that she was ready to go to the final resting place.
The loss of Dilara Begum has been a great tragedy for the entire family. Yet I believe this has been a greater loss for the society at large, where selfless love, affection and consideration for others is a rarity. We need Dilara Begums by the hundreds who will serve as the enduring spirit that binds the society together.
Dilara Begum though not academically as accomplished as her other brothers and sisters, had a kind of wisdom that many of us do not have. She seldom indulged in any form of gossip and hated speaking behind others. She was most uncomfortable amongst people who are narrow minded and indulged in fault finding with others. A highly logical and rational mind she was always ready to listen to others' point of view.
She taught us the essence and meaning of courage in fighting the misfortunes of life. With a husband who was seriously ill for years and continue to be so even to this day, a child who died on a sea beach swept away by cruel currents and a son who is now in his late 20s and continues to live with a rare disease that threatens his life every day, Dilara Begum attended to their needs despite her own suffering. She always had a heavenly smile on her face that one could not but notice.
Dear sister our prayers are with you. May you rest in peace.
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