It’s a beautiful Florida morning; 70s with a mild eastern Atlantic breeze. A slightly lazy sun peers through the inter-coastal waterways to bask on the dancing palm and banana trees; doesn’t poke at us – but touches our soul with its gentle winter glow. I sit outside on the patio with a hot cup of Cha (milky deshi style sweet tea) with a favorite shortbread cookie. This type of a tea, along with this type of a cookie, is what I enjoyed the most on a weekend, as I was growing up in Bangladesh. Old Robindro Shongeet, the type of music my parents used to listen to (and I swore I would never listen to), echoes throughout the patio.
On this amazing morning, my past and my present comes together beautifully.
My five-year old princess brings an old pizza box and wants us me to make a key chain with it! “You’re my best friend, Daddy” she says. We talk about making a book – with glue and paper and alphabets. Or making a box of checkers, and playing all afternoon.
Next week, around this time, I will be thousands of miles away, in the city where I was born – with my seventy-three year old mother – sipping hot tea – at her dinette table, with Horlicks biscuits – the same short bread cookies from my past. Maybe we will play a game of Scrabble, argue about why two letter words like “ae” are not really words (even if they are allowed in Scrabble Dictionary). We will talk about our days in Chittagong, or the War of Independence, the traffic in Dhaka or some other hugely significant issue, that none of us can solve.
My role as a father and a son, all at the same time, in a span of hours – mesmerizes me. Both of these beautiful people, connected at two ends – with the same last name as mine, remind me of what life is all about. A bit of laughter, the glistening smile in their eyes, lots of love – filled with no material expectations, but just the pleasure of this time.
We connect our past, with our future with time – like a bridge. I sit here and wonder if I am the bridge or am I building the bridge.
I miss my father; the quiet man who smiles in my dream. He never says a word. I emulate him in all my days. I went to the same high school as he did – the same University – and studied for the same Industrial Engineering degree he pursued. All my life, I just wanted to be like him. On the same token, I swear every day, I will take better care of myself than he did. God willing, I want to be there, on the day that my smiling princess decides to share her life with someone else, so I can cry and hold her hand, as she walks down the aisle.
On a beautiful morning like this, I look at every living being around me – and think about the roles we play in continuing life on this planet. We try to hold on to everything around us – as if things don’t have to change. But they do change. War ravages us – weather strengthens us – water soothes us and the blue sky makes us understand the continuing change in color that accompanies life.
Whether we are a bridge or building a bridge, is inconsequential. What’s much more important are the people we connect – with our smiles, and our heart and our generosity.
It’s time for brunch now; eggs benedict, waffles, freshly squeezed orange juice; next week, it will be a crispy luchi, tangy aloor dom and another hot cup of sweet, milky tea.
My bridge, surrounded with the taste, aroma, laughter and the love of life.