The one person I always have in my mind is dadi, my grandmother. Not that my parents aren’t there. They are there, but dadi is a bit exceptional. She’s my special person. I think the saddest moment of my life was when I was separated from her. I still remember the day baba asked me, “Do you want to go to America?”. And without even thinking, I said yes. I was probably five at the time. What did I know where America was. I didn’t even know how big of a city Dhaka was at the time. I knew nothing of the world.
I was devastated to learn that dadi wouldn’t be coming with us. In that six years of my life, that was when I felt the most pain. I cried a lot at the airport. I didn’t want to go. Ma tried to pacify me but I couldn’t stop crying. I didn’t want to leave her. But I did leave. I left the one person that I could never be without. She was the one with whom I went to sleep with every night. Sometimes baba would get jealous and kidnap me from dadi’s room so I could sleep with him and ma. Of course I cried and screamed and dadi would always come to my rescue and tell him to let me sleep with her. But baba would always say, “She always sleeps with you. Let her sleep with us this time”. I used to hate it at the time, but now that I look back at it I feel grateful that he loves me so much ^_^. Dadi was the one with whom I would get up at dawn with to watch the sunrise. I always wondered how the sun could be so red early in the morning. Sometimes she would get up before me but I always knew where to find her. Dada and dadi are both my special people actually. Dada because I loved him and was practically spoiled by him. He would take me on walks and buy me snacks. What more could a child ask for? And dadi because she was always there for me. In fact, she practically raised me. My brothers weren’t that fortunate to receive the same amount of love that I did. Being the eldest has its perks, I guess. But then again I’m happy that they didn’t have to experience the same pain as I did either. Coming to America was a whole new experience. All of a sudden, my whole life changed around. I was surrounded by people who didn’t speak the same language as me. I felt estranged and lost and wanted to go back home. Every night I would miss dadi’s embrace. And mornings were just mornings. I didn’t know which way the sun came up any more. Not that I could see it anyhow with so many buildings in the way. Little by little, I learned to sleep without her. Little by little, I learned to sleep by myself. But I always remembered her before I went to sleep and recited the one surah she helped me memorize by heart. Surah-Al-Fatiha.
Nothing is the same as it used to be. Dadi passed away and dada soon after. Uncles and aunts got married and suddenly became busy with their own lives. The house isn’t the same anymore. The room that I used to sleep in with dadi is not there anymore either (well actually, it’s still there but the semi-wall that divided the room in half was taken down in order to provide more space. So now it’s just one big room. My uncle used to sleep in the first half near the door and my dadi, aunt, and I slept in the other half by the back balcony.)
Even though nothing has remained the same as before, the memories are still there. So many memories have been preserved in that five story building. Of all the memories I have, I think the ones I cherish the most are of the time when I lived in Bangladesh. It’s not a lot of memories because I only started remembering from when I was like three or so, but they are the ones I hold close to my heart the most. I still wonder what it would be like if we never came to America. Would I still be the same person I am today?