The Missing Link
by Shahinur Islam
All the writings of the magazine were on his father whose one piece was also in its first page. The editor himself came to Anik’s home and gave one copy for his collection. Once he got the last abiding memorial of his father, he sat down silently on the chair of balcony, handled it in many ways, and started reflecting all his past events with dad with a mixture of future pain of missing him.
He was facing a sea of ignorance again and again when he tried to read the last writing of his father. The last medium of communication with his father was making an indelible distance. Whenever he felt it, he started sobbing. All living creatures will die some day or other—it is still a truth whereas some die before their birth, too. And all the pains and pangs over death, too, diminish in course of time, but if there is any remorse for the dear one, it goes on burning for life.
Like many others, his parents had, however, tried to some extent to teach him Bangla, so many kids like Anik could, now at least, speak Bangla or understand listening. But without special care and supervision, no kids knew how to read and write.
As immigrants, people had to struggle in all aspects; they had to spend so much time for living and managing their families that they could not afford extra time to teach their kids how to write and read Bangla. Supposing they had time, what was its use in their real life? That the parents did not have time, their kids were reluctant, was an ultimate cause of dampening the solitary corner of Aniks’ mind as deep shadow of remorse for the rest of life. On that corner, they had to rise all alone after they had tripped up on their step, but nobody could see their tripping, still less help to get up. Although his next generation would not suffer this pain or grudge, neither contribute to the root they are now severed from, they were likely to have a historic passive reading of their origin some time in future out of curiosity.
Perhaps for being a son of a writer, he completely realized the irreparable loss. If he was a son of a common immigrant, he did not even feel so as there was no materialistic gain in it.
His realized remorse had a bonus, too. That was his failure to make someone else feel the pain or find out someone sympathetic for the pain. His near ones would console him for mitigating the deep pain of loss of his father, and in course of time, it would be diminished. But nobody would feel the loss he incurred. Perhaps if he made it feel to people, they might misunderstand him ultimately.
He would not find anyone sympathetic here. He was not supposed to find either as he was raised in a different cultural and linguistic atmosphere. When he was only five, he left his motherland with his parents, burying the written Bangla. He even got married with a woman here named Christina who did not know anything about the Bangla culture. This couple also had a pretty and educated daughter who was not much familiar with the Bangla culture either, nor did she have any room to learn. Without direct contact, culture cannot be mastered, so he would not be able to make them understand the inner pain of the loss. Besides, his friend circle belonged to this country. As a whole, nobody could sympathize for his deep inner pain.
His father had named his daughter. When he asked for its meaning, his father said to him, “Rikta means ‘zero’, ‘cipher’.” That time he had not liked the meaning, but now he remembered—Dad was right in naming her. In fact, she was just a rootless person cut off the language, culture, and tradition of her ancestors.
Anik went back to the previous question again. He said to himself, “Well, did Dad think of teaching me Bangla writing before? If he thought, why didn’t he take enough steps?” Again, he himself searched for the answer, “Of course, I saw Dad so busy in my childhood. Mom was too. Maybe, they tried within their means, but couldn’t manage. Well, I wasn’t willing either. That time who knew it would be question now?”
“This evening there is a memorial service for Dad. Don’t you remember?”
As soon as he heard this, he came to his senses and moved a little bit. Raising his head, he could see the sun was about to sink in the west horizon; after a short time, evening would descend. And when he looked back, he could see Christina well-dressed and ready to go. But he could not see their daughter, so he asked Christina,
“Where is Rikta?”
“She’s getting ready. You hurry up, too. Plopping yourself down all the while! If you don’t go to the service before, who’ll organize it? Lots of work to do! Don’t take too much time.”
Hastily he got up from the chair, but still had a resonance of what he had mused over all the while. He was readying himself to attend to the service, and thinking—Service! Ceremonialism! All the time went by for them. Real work isn’t done ever. How can I make up the loss I incurred? What’s use of public show?
While getting ready, he was so possessed with this thought that, unknowingly and a bit loudly, he blurted out the last interrogative sentence. No sooner had Christina heard the sentence than she screamed,
“What nonsense are you talking? What does it mean by the use of public show? So many people are invited! And you say now ‘what’s the use’? If only you had a sense of responsibility!”
“Did I say I wouldn’t go? Wouldn’t carry out the responsibility? I say of its necessity.”
“One of our closest people passed away forever. And we won’t do any memorial service for him?”
Anik knew there was no point in arguing on it. Just a waste of time. Who would feel the pain if she never suffered? There was no good trying to make her feel, no use swimming against the stream. It was better to float with downstream; it would at least prevent him from facing extra troubles.
Annoyed a bit, he consented to her and said,
“Sure. Surely we’ll.”
Rikta appeared at the scene, hearing their clamour. Seeing her, Anik only said,
“Let’s go. I’m ready, too.”