Evening, 15th March 2008. We, the Daily star awardees for outstanding results in the O and A'level exams, were basking in the glory of our success. Little did we know that for some of us, life was going to change quite permanently.
And it did. Another star dropped from the sky and burned out after exuding dazzling light for too short a time, for Adnan Gazi passed away, leaving so many well-wishers behind him that he would have been shocked had he known.
Adnan Gazi, a student of Class XI of BIT, was an old classmate of mine, beloved friend to many, and easily one of the nicest guys around. He was soft-spoken yet hilariously funny, and somehow the bizarre combination suited him. He was also extremely talented. Adnan was charismatic, a good student and a terrific basketball player. I remember him receiving prizes for BIT's annual poetry recitation competitions almost every year. He was also a wonderful artist- he took away prizes for the best charts, leaving the rest of us tearing our hair and thinking how we could possibly match up to his artistic skill. He was photogenic and popular, yet he left us midway through, trying to wrestle with the unbelievable truth.
I can still hear his voice echoing across the classroom, I can still visualize his infectious smile, but I can't accept the fact that I'm talking about him in the past tense. He was my classmate and I wasn't as close to him as his other friends were, but I regret a lot of things. I regret seeing him on the day of the Daily star awards (which was ultimately to be his death day) but not being able to talk to him and congratulate him. I regret not getting to know him better. My plan was to tell all my classmates, present and ex, that they were special to me, that I will cherish their memories, that I might have been a bit strict with them in my years as a prefect only to maintain class discipline, and to humbly ask for forgiveness for my mistakes, at the end of my school years when I would graduate and when it would be time for farewell. Little did I know that I would never get that opportunity with Adnan. I realize that I feel almost like I've lost a brother, but it's too late. I have never felt so depressed for days at a stretch; I can just imagine what his friends must be feeling.
Adnan, did you see how many people turned up for your Qulkhani? Did you see how many of them were praying that they reach there despite the horrendous traffic jam in the road and how many of them were running through a blur of tears just so they could somehow, anyhow, catch the munazat?
Those of you who are reading this, please don't wait or don't feel embarrassed to tell people they're special, because frankly speaking the guilt isn't worth it. Also, never lose your battle with life- continue to fight against the odds and someday you'll win, but just don't lose hope about anything. Lastly, I would like to convey my heartfelt condolences to Adnan's family- may Allah grant them the strength to cope with their irreplaceable loss; and Adnan, don't think you're going to escape us, okay? We'll see you beyond the horizon. Till then, sleep tight, and goodbye.
(On behalf of everyone who's been in BIT at some point of time, and who has had the fortune of knowing Adnan)
By Nuzhat Binte Arif
I clasped the little grey stone in my fist and, with all the strength I could muster, threw it straight ahead. It plunged into the water with a strangely satisfying plop. I squeezed my eyes shut to block the view and with a little sigh, realized it was useless. Never in my entire life, all of the seven years of it, had I seen such a strange sight. There was water everywhere I looked. Only the tin roofs of the once humble (and dry) residences of my village peeked from the depths of flood water.
It had been raining and raining, day and night all month. A week ago, I woke up with a jerk and realised that my parents were screaming for us to get out of the house. Before I knew it, Amma had picked up my 3 year old brother and Bazan had placed me on his shoulders. I realised with horror that our little house was flooded with shoulder (my seven year old shoulders) deep water. When we got out side Bazan had to struggle to keep me safe on his shoulders and yet manage to swim his way towards safety.
Ever since then we have been living in another little boat, with hardly any shelter. The water level has increased so much that I could drown and never be found in the water! (A thought that I do not like thinking about.) Our belongings are mostly gone, and I can hardly recognize our house now. Sometimes I catch my mother deviously hiding her portion of the food beneath a rag and later she would give it to me or my brother saying that it is food left from lunch or that these were extra rations for little kids. I didn't believe it because they hardly gave us all enough to eat and it made me feel horrible. I refuse to eat every time I catch her doing this, but sometimes I get so hungry that it gets hard to control!
Amma says that when I was two years old, in 2001, there was another flood like this, but it was much worse, so now we should feel luckier and thank God. I had nightmares after this. It made me feel like maybe we would have to live like this forever, because if a flood worse than this had come in the past, it might come again. Bazan later assured me that things, like before, would be alright again.
At nights when the rain gets too heavy, we all huddle together and try to sleep, but sometimes it gets hard to do so since all our stomachs seem to grumble out of hunger at one point of the night or another. Food is scarce; and every night, I pray that by some magic luck, somebody would give us so much food we would never have to sleep hungry like this again.
In the beginning, we tried to find out some fun out of this new situation by playing imagined tell-tale games where my brother and I get stuck in a sea with no food or water. I realised later that we really were stuck in a situation like that, and that this was no tell-tale game. Next we tried other normal games, but those got boring. I really miss the dry field where my friends and could play football again.
Today we were going to the east side of the village to collect our rations, and as I picked up another grey little stone from the swaying boat to throw into the water and glare at the monotonous view, I prayed and hoped, that at least today, please make them give us something that lasts more than 3 days, so that we don't have to go the rest of the week hungry. I found myself desperately hoping yet again that by the time we come back home, something miraculous would happen and our home would be dry again, and there would be no water. I closed my eyes again and wished, with all my might, please stop raining; please let me not drown, please help.
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