I have never seen a dead body before.
In all my, frankly, fairly boring, and privileged, life of 20 years, I haven’t experienced death around me too much. That is surprising considering my grandfather, from my father’s side, died a few years back. Still, we weren’t that close and everything happened quite outside of my radar. I had my exams ahead and my parents did well to shield me, even if inadvertently.
There was another distant relative who died when I was a kid, and I heard my mother cry in the morning, at bed, for probably straight 30 minutes. I stayed awake, acting like I was asleep, not knowing what else to do. My father had a flight that day- he ditched it from inside the plane and attended her funeral.
Again, not really that close of a relative of mine, never interacted with her too much. I honestly hated going to her home because well, I was a kid and had no one else around my age there.
I did have my friend, or more like an acquaintance/classmate, die when I was in Grade 8. I attended his funeral and was present when he was buried. Yet, I tried my absolute best, consciously or unconsciously, to not see his body. Not see his face. To remember him by the zestful memories of him. I succeeded.
Sure, you see dead bodies in movies, but those aren’t really real. Or perhaps see them in televisions or news. Still, they are somewhat in the distant. Not really close to you.
Until, well, one day, you indeed see a লাশ. I, well, tried to shield myself and stop from seeing his face for as long as I could. After, well, 7 seconds, something in me gave up.
I honestly didn’t know what to expect. A smiling face? A sad face? A crying face? I didn’t really have any expectation, so I was quite sad to see his dying face such that it looked like he was in immense pain.
I didn’t shed a tear still. I still didn’t, as of 18 July 5:34 pm.
My grandfather, Nanabhai, died around 12:30 pm, July 17th. Again, I actually never experienced death around me, and I genuinely sometimes wondered what I’d do in that situation. Cry like a baby? Stay strong for my family? I always imagined myself staying cheerful to diffuse my jolly mood to others- maybe crack jokes here and there. Share genuine memories.
Reality is often disappointing- I didn’t speak a word to almost anyone the whole day yesterday. I don’t think I smiled even once too. I did pull myself back together today, and I think almost everybody did. My father’s transformation is probably the most eerie. Apparently he got to know the news when he was driving, and he started to cry so crazily that he was forced to stop the car. When I met him at the hospital though, he was the nonchalant dad I know- managing everything with ease, with zero emotions.
I wish I could emulate him.
Throughout most of my teenage life, I tried not to be like my dad. That’s a story for a different day, but my wish didn’t really pan out. People around me pinpointed behaviors I inherited from my father; when I grew up, I started to notice a few habits I copy pasta-ed from him too. We inadvertently pick behaviors from our peers, and we really have no hand in it.
Okay, what behaviors did I inherit from my Nanabhai then?
Liza Khalamoni noted that “The youngest guy from the family just passed away.” I almost gave her a look, but she is correct. I don’t think anyone else was happier with the most mundane things. Visiting us. Giving us Salami. Watching Bangladesh play cricket. Seeing the cow for Qurbani.
I can’t imagine this, but perhaps I did emulate his childlishness inside me too? Perhaps this is why I try to act like a 10 year old 24/7 and actually stay happy? Perhaps this is why I make stupid pranks, make stupid jokes, insert lame puns and just stay crazy half of the time?
I don’t know.
I am a private man who keeps most of his emotions, or his visions, motivations, or thoughts to himself. A secret only to be accessed by me.
One of those secrets is while university admissions- every time I was pulled down due to, idk, fatigue, laziness, procrastination, or any other reason, a few thoughts and visions got me back up.
One of them was providing the best possible care to my grandparents.
Don’t get me wrong, my family is pretty privileged, Alhamdulillah. This is all thanks to my nanabhai himself- he brought up three fierce tigresses and two wonderful men. He wasn’t a man of much privilege himself, but he educated himself, migrated to Dhaka, and provided the best path possible to his children.
He succeeded. 100%. Absolutely no doubt about that. Even in terms of money, all five of them are in fairly great standing. His ICU bills added up to almost 70k BDT taka daily, but there was (almost) no question of unaffordability.
Yet, we aren’t the most successful family, or the most fluid in terms of money. Paths suddenly spring up when you do have the money available. I had the strangest wish, or vision, to provide my grandparents, and parents + relatives in the future too if possible, the best possible healthcare. Provide them with the best possible service. Have them lead the most peaceful and chill life.
Hell, my CommonApp essay was literally this.
Now, I don’t run around money that much anymore, i.e. that isn’t, sadly or happily, my strongest motivation anymore. Yet, I’ll probably live with a regret- not being able to do anything to help my Nanabhai. I genuinely couldn’t.
Whether it is someone I hate, someone I had a fall out with, someone who abruptly disappeared from my life, someone who saw me disappear abruptly from their life, someone who I fell in love with, someone who did me wrong….I choose to remember them by their best memories. The way they made me feel. The way I made them feel. Anything else doesn’t matter.
Yet, I can’t think of any negative memories with Nanabhai, legit none. But I remember his dying face. I just hope that I’ll remember him not by his last moments on Earth, but by how I want him to remembered. How he would want himself to be remembered. The youngest guy of the family. The kid who happened to be the oldest guy in the room.
Nanabhai, I am sure you’re in a better place. If there is anything to be sure about, I think this is it. Ever since Maruf and Tamanna Ma’am died, I sometimes imagine them looking down at me and just shaking their heads, disappointed and also smiling, seeing me half-crazy and half-dumb.
I hope I can make you, and them, proud though. Prouder than you ever imagined. Just like how you defeated the odds and raised five absolutely glorious human beings, I hope I’ll be able to follow your footsteps, and stay the 10-year old kid even when I am a 70 year old adult.
Until next time,
The Grandson who’ll make you proud. Promise.