<%-- Page Title--%> Remembrance <%-- End Page Title--%>

<%-- Volume Number --%> Vol 1 Num 148 <%-- End Volume Number --%>

April 2, 2004

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In Memory of a Brother
Mikail Shams

Antara Ahmed Choudhury

During the voyage of life, thousands of faces affect us and, hundreds of hands touch while making the journey towards eternity. But only a few faces leave a mark and very few hands come forward to hold our hands and thus make the travel much more exhilarating and worthwhile. No matter how short their presence can be, they succeed in leaving the everlasting impression on your mind, which later gives you the strength to move on, helps you to smile when you yourself go through the hardest phase and spread the message of love while standing on the edge of life. Very few possess the audacity to embrace death with a smiling face though knowing its too early to leave, at only 35.

Fortunately, I had the privilege to come across such an individual whom I could see from a very close distance. Miku bhaia as I called him had been my Santa Claus ever since my childhood days. As Miku bhaia left for abroad at a very early age, I hardly had much chances of seeing him around. To me, he was like a Santa who used to come and go secretly. His occasional visits were always full of Barbies and chocolates for his little sister. This was what Miku bhaia was to me, whose yearly visits always included souvenirs and warm hugs.

The first time I could see him closely was in 1995 during a family visit to America. I remember how Miku bhaia made that short visit worth recalling. The long drives on the roads, of Washington DC in bhaias Honda Civic where I always had the preference to sit next to him, the scrumptious treats in McDonalds and Baskin Robbins, the endless visits to shopping malls and last but not the least the warmth and hospitality of bhaia was all that made the difference.

In a short span of time form Santa Claus, bhaia became my Mills and Boons heroes, whose exuberance and debonari appearance was enough to attract the women folk. I can still remember how beautifully and artistically he had decorated his house, everything was in a perfect shape, not even a pinch of dust could be found at any corner. A young bachelor's house in such a unique shape was quite a thing to see.

Just after a few months or our visit Miku bhaia came to Dhaka to tie his knot. Miku bhaia's wedding was simply an event to remember. It was in 1996 when the anti-government movement was going on. All the shops were closed and vehicles were on strike for indefinite period. Thus we made our borjatra in rickshaws and an ambulance was hired as borer gari. It was quite an occasion, with the youngsters to be a part of the borjatri in rows of rickshaws and see the bride and bridegroom coming in an ambulance. The wedding was simple but unique in every proportion. Due to professional reasons Miku Bhaia had to cut short his stay and thus we didn't get much time to spend together.

In 1999 I saw him last when he came to attend Nermeen apa's (his only younger sister) wedding. It was a very short trip, of about a week. In spite of all his appointments he managed time to visit us just the day before his flight. Though it was a brief visit, it was indeed a memorable one. He spent the evening with my family, chatting and arguing while going down memory lane and refreshing memoris. Then when the time came to leave, Miku bhaia as usual gave me his warm hug and we bade goodbye to each other not knowing it was the final adieu.

Just a few months later suddenly one day we were informed that Miku bhaia has been hospitalised to undergo a major operation. After diagnosis the doctors concluded this as deadly cancer which was spreading very fast.

Then started his relentless struggle to survive. Everyday he was fighting with death but always with a smiling face. Each day was a new fight where hope was a far cry. A young heart just not ready to give up, not ready to bow down to death knowing he was hoping against hope.

He never wanted others to suffer on his account and thus hid the unbearable pain behind his smile which had the power to win the hearts of millions.

I hardly had any communication with him after his illness I remember him mailing me after my HSC exams asking about my results and future plans in spite of his own grim struggle for survival. This is what he was, always concerned about others. In the last four years he had to go through several operations and therapy. He even had to use a wheelchair as his legs became too weak to move. But all these couldn't lessen his irresistible desire to live.

Finally came the inevitable hour and he breathed his last on 18th November 2003 in Columbus, Ohio. Hundreds of people came to bid farewell from different states regardless of nationality and religion. Even the people of the hospice where he stayed till the end informed they have never seen so many people coming to pay their last homage to any individual. Thus it was his amiable nature that succeeded in winning the hearts of many even in a foreign country.

His last wish was to have lavenders on his grave so that it can diffuse its fragrance throughout the the ambience. Today Miku Bhaia is no more, no more are his warm hugs, but the Santa Claus lives in the core of all who once knew him and goes on spreading the message of love just like the beautiful Lavenders.

Footnote-Mikail Shams, an electrical engineer, died on 18th November 2003 in Columbus (Ohio) USA




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