go Countless times I traversed the deep grooves of its bark with my small fingers and scaled its rung-like branches as far as I dared. The large backyard was a wonderland, overgrown in places, lending a true sense of mystery to the space. It served as a de facto neighborhood playground, and many adventures were concocted and acted out there under its seemingly inexhaustible inspiration.
For the first eight years of my life, that house and its immediate environs were virtually my world; and, it was a charming place indeed. Of course, being a small boy, it never mattered to me that my family and I lived in a rented apartment. It mattered to my parents though, especially my mother, who had long dreamed of owning her own home. In fact, there was really no yard at all, only a narrow driveway and a boring one-car garage. Embarrassed at having been noticed, I let the curtain slip from my fingers and turned my attention away from the window and the children playing outside.
I did make good friends and forged life-long memories in the new neighborhood. In fact, if my first eight years are characterized by memories of things and places, the next few years are filled with names Paul, Phil, Evans, Justin, Jackie, Jimmy… and endearing faces. Those were, in fact, the happiest days of my childhood. My friends and I typically matched our activities to the season. In summer, we seemed to play baseball morning, afternoon, and night. In the fall, our street became a touch-football field with telephone poles marking the end zones.
And, in winter, we played street hockey both after school and on weekends, as long as daylight accommodated.
Often, boys from nearby neighborhoods would join us for our games. Even as a child, I was very careful with my words, never wanting to offend God or others. While my closest friends always respected who I was and how I tried to conduct myself, kids from other neighborhoods were not always so understanding. Convincing myself, however, was only half the battle. When I summoned the courage to raise the issue with her, my mother looked less than pleased. She remained silent for some time, and I could feel my face flush under her persistent gaze.
When she finally answered, she did so with obvious hesitation. Does that sound fair? We then rather delicately discussed my possible choices — an interesting exercise between a mother and her young son.
Soon thereafter, my friends and I gathered to play touch football. As the game progressed, so did our use of salty language. Feeling a newfound freedom and connection with my peers, I made liberal and creative use of my new vocabulary word.
I was playing my role to the hilt until a porch door suddenly swung open, and a large, angry man stepped out. He came down from his steps to confront us at closer range. My heart was racing but my feet were anchored in place. He glared at me and thrust his finger forward once for each pronounced word of my sentence. I felt crushed. As I was walking home, the scene played over and over again in my mind. He had singled me out as the worst offender without really knowing me. The realization, when it came, was sudden yet gentle, like a soft voice in the soul. Even being a child, I could understand.
Sh t happens! My real sin was falsity and compromise. And, the angry man was my wake-up call — a true friend. So, I will be at the vigil Mass again next Saturday evening.
I will remember. And, I will lift up a prayer of thanks. Today, one of my Facebook friends posted a short video that has been widely circulated. A portion of the heartrending recording shows two young Syrian boys grieving the loss of their brother, who was killed by a barrel bomb during an airstrike in Aleppo. Walking is one of my preferred forms of exercise. On a recent walk, I recognized the face of someone approaching from the opposite direction. He was not a friend. In fact, I knew only his face and not his name; but, it was a beautiful day, one that naturally lent itself to cordiality.
So, as we drew near to one another, I nodded and offered a greeting. He returned my greeting, and we stopped to exchange pleasantries. During our conversation, we discovered that we had a mutual acquaintance — a person who, in my experience, has always shown himself to be consistently thoughtful and kind. I mentioned that this mutual acquaintance was a really wonderful man.
When he uttered these words, I felt my heart drop in my chest. I asked no follow-up questions and quickly changed the subject. Our conversation soon ended, and we parted company. The New Testament Letter of James offers a stern warning about the power of the tongue.
In a passage that always makes me squirm, James writes:. The tongue is also a fire. It exists among our members as a world of malice, defiling the whole body and setting the entire course of our lives on fire, itself set on fire by Gehenna. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by the human species, but no human being can tame the tongue.
It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. When I saw the video earlier today, I almost immediately recalled my recent encounter while walking. I intend no disparagement. In fact, if I indict anyone, I indict only myself. How often have I casually uttered unkind words? How often have I sewn corrupted seeds by malicious use of my tongue? How often have I surreptitiously attacked my neighbor while failing to recognize my own violence?
Weapons come in many shapes and sizes. Some cause instantaneous destruction and pain while others simmer and slowly corrupt from within. The memory is vague, almost dream-like. My paternal grandfather, who died in when I was still a toddler, is atop a fight of stairs in the family home and speaking with my father, who is with me at the bottom of the stairs.
While brother-in-law Pauly awkwardly watches and waits, Rocky sits on a folding chair in quiet communion with his departed bride. Then, he collapses his chair and returns it to its storage place in the sturdy branches of a nearby tree. The message is clear. While love is typically the defining characteristic of such bonds, other sentiments can certainly be involved as well. It is not unusual, for example, for someone to come to a gravesite bearing unresolved anger, regrets, a desire for forgiveness and reconciliation, or countless other all-too-human emotions.
Pensive Musings: A Collection of Reflective Poetry [Sanjit Bhattacharjee] on alakovyzir.ga *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. Poetry should, like all. Editorial Reviews. About the Author. Sanjit Bhattacharjee is a Masters in Computer Science and is on the web at alakovyzir.ga Sanjit takes active interest in.
By faith, I believe the person I cared for is no longer there. John J. Was it grief or something else that knotted her tongue? Judging by the sensitive tone her voice assumed whenever she did speak of him, it was clear that her Papa held a special — albeit, a hidden — place in her heart. So, who was this man? What were his treasures? Did he believe in God? Did he make friends easily? What made him smile, laugh, cry?
Did he have a hobby? What burdens did he carry? What were his gifts? His regrets? His foibles? Did he pray? Was he a dreamer? What were his politics? Was he satisfied with his life? Was my grandmother his first love? Did he love her to the end? Was he always faithful? What thoughts filled his mind in quiet moments… and, in his final moments?
What were his fears? His temptations? Who were his heroes? How did he die? And, more importantly, what guided how he lived? My Mom was the last surviving member of her first family. When she passed in March of last year, it meant that all those who had been closest to my grandfather were now gone. So too, I imagined, was any hope I had of finding answers to my myriad questions concerning this stranger whose blood I share. Marianne, ever-gracious and knowing me only too well , gave me a pass on further sorting that day.
Just holding the book stirred my emotions. The textured cover of the book bore the words National Surety Corporation , and the title page read National Surety Diary Just a few years later, in , he would be horribly wounded by a German soldier during ground fighting in Sicily. My Mom wrote faithfully in her diary through May 27th of Then, for whatever reason, her daily entries abruptly ceased. Mostly blank pages followed; however, there were a handful of later entries, including a few dating from and It seemed so nice.
At age 13, she was a bit boy-crazy and seems to have prompted innocent flirtations e. She and her older sister, Edna, were inseparable, but they also had strong arguments, a characteristic they would carry into old age. She felt things deeply. In short, she was a typical teenage girl of her time. In all, there were twelve entries in the diary that mentioned my grandfather. Some were just brief references, but a precious few were more revealing. Rather than recount all of the details, I will instead summarize the still thin portrait of my grandfather that emerged for me from the diary.
Some general aspects of his life, e. The insights I gleaned about his temperament and character, however, were altogether new and satisfying. I was also surprised and saddened by the intensity of the rift between my grandparents. Christopher was an emotional man whose identity was closely tied to his work. For twenty-five years, he was employed by the narrow gauge railroad that operated in his community. After experiencing a serious drop in ridership, the railroad shut down on January 27, Ah diary, it was so sad. That was very heartening to read. My grandfather seems to have had a strong sense of responsibility regarding his family.
As much as the job loss devastated him, he was quick to search out employment and apparently found a new position in less than two months. As mentioned, the relationship between my grandparents was strained, perhaps torturously so. Six of the twelve diary entries that mention my grandfather reference either their fights or their complete lack of communication. No motive for their discord is ever mentioned, but the impact upon my Mom and her siblings appears to have been quite severe.
At one point, my Mom reports that her oldest sisters, Mary and Barbara, had devised a plan to save their money and move out of the house with all three of their younger siblings Johnny, Edna, and my mother due to the fighting. That plan, at least during the period covered by the diary, was never carried out.
Alcohol is mentioned in passing once, but the reference, as I see it, is open to interpretation. He used to all the time. I will likely never know. Finally, despite the stress in his marriage and his devastating work situation, my grandfather appears to have had a strong relationship with his children. As noted, they gathered around to console him after his job loss. Also, when my Mom was laid up for two weeks with a terrible sore throat, she wrote of how kind he was to her during the illness.
And, he apparently tried to involve his children in activities around their home. My Mom reports affectionately, for example, about spending a Saturday morning painting woodwork with her Papa. I consider it one final, loving gift passed from mother to son. Writing is difficult.
One reason I take up the pen or, the keyboard is to provide future generations in my family with an understanding of who I was and what I valued. By the way, I also hope that my experiences might strike a familiar chord within you and somehow prove to be a blessing in your life. Thanks so much for taking the time to read my reflections. Once, for example, I had traveled to the Boston Public Library for a meeting.
An assortment of interesting characters passed by, but my attention was especially drawn to a class of middle-schoolers, who had come for a library tour. The social dynamic among the students was eerily familiar. Some were the cool kids, comfortable being the center of attention, which they commanded by their antics. Others, the clear majority, seemed indifferent to their surroundings. They conversed in small clusters while waiting for the tour to begin. This was before the age of the ubiquitous cell phone. Finally, there were those bringing up the rear.
They generally appeared ill-at-ease and eager just to get beyond this ordeal. I understood. As I watched, I felt compassion for this latter group, whose members quite likely endured taunts and trials for being perceived as different or for failing to measure up to some unjust standard. Then, however, I noticed something important. Yes, the misfits were segregated somewhat from the larger group, perhaps by choice; however, amongst themselves, they genuinely cared for each other. They shared a bond, a communion of souls. On another occasion, my wife Marianne and I were in our stateroom awaiting the launch of a Caribbean cruise.
Since our balcony overlooked the pier, we were able to witness some of the feverish activity below as cruise line personnel scrambled to resolve the unnamed issue. It looked like exhausting work. We finally set sail about three hours late, and I watched the departure from our balcony. The last sound I heard from those men was a hearty, shared laugh.
It seemed to speak directly to my soul about the healing power of friendship. That always makes me smile. I learned the truth about Santa on Christmas Eve when I was only five years old; and, for a few hours, it felt as if all the magic had drained from my world. Lewis might have called a deeper magic. Exactly one year earlier, when I was four, I had a Santa Claus nightlight. It plugged into the outlet, just below pillow level, behind the headboard of my first big-boy bed.
How thoroughly wonderful that, with all of the many children in the world, Santa cared so much for me. My devotion was real, and it reached its peak on that long-ago Christmas Eve. Alongside the foot of my bed, there was a drafty old window, which routinely frosted over during the winter months. By late December, the frost was already thick enough to obscure the night sky.
I was restless and far too excited to sleep; but, it was the promise of presence rather than presents that denied me slumber. Santa Claus would soon be near; and, thinking back, it felt as though hope itself, rather than blood, was coursing through my veins. Eventually, after many adoring glances at my nightlight failed to satisfy, I pulled off my covers and made for the window. My big sister, Christine, who shared the room with me, asked what I was doing.
Through that tiny portal, I expectantly searched the dark sky for a sign. Every twinkle, every shadow passing in front of the moon, quickened my pulse. That moment apparently left a profound impression. Even today, when I go to my prayer room hoping to encounter the un-seeable One, I can almost feel a ribbon of frost melting beneath my thumbnail. Despite a valiant effort, my four-year old self never did see Santa that night. I ultimately returned to bed and fell asleep.
The next year, however, would be quite different. They both knew of my sensitivity, and it must have been quite difficult for them to bear such crushing news. Consequently, Christmas was going to be lean that year — just two gifts per child. Today, I marvel at her concern. That night, however, I was too brokenhearted to think.
Grieving is hard work for a little boy, especially on Christmas Eve. I still had my Santa Claus nightlight, but looking at it only magnified my sadness. On Christmas morning, I lingered awake in bed. The birthday girl, my very closest friend, came over to encourage me.
Two gifts awaited me under and beside the tree. And, honestly, of all the presents on all the Christmas mornings of my childhood, they are the only two I can still recall. One was a paint-by-numbers kit with a special kind of glittery paint. The other took my breath away. It was my first and only childhood bicycle, a inch Columbia that I cherished immediately.
Was it my imagination, or did it really glow? I hope one or more of them will bless you. To talk. To listen. To finally understand. The day afterpoet Al Mahmud's death, I reopened one of his poetry books, Pakhir Kachhe, Phooler Kachhe, the only collection of the poet I have ever read and owned. Anthropologist James Clifford says that the term travel can be understood as a form of 'global contacts' in a post-colonial word. I realised that a genuine traveller is reflective, moving across a landscape where things are in place.
The internet has had a complete ball of a year, thanks to millennials turning older and 'CRAY-zier' and fighting the growing costs of living. If you think that this 'I cannot buy a home because I spent all my money on avocadoes and that is why I am sad' is a problem just in the west, just drag your mouse and zoom in on Dhaka on the map especially on the tri-state area. Imagine, dear reader, a youthful village belle. Transport yourself back 50 or 60 years ago. She lives with her husband and her in-laws in a farming homestead in rural East Bengal.
It's been a few years since she arrived in her new home. There is something about biriyani er aloo that makes it a subject of universal adoration. But before I go rambling about my love for potato-cooked-to-perfection, here's some background story. Most of them said they wanted to take a picture with Tilda Swinton.
I was a particularly anxious child, so much so that even as I tried to sleep, I would resort to visualising elaborate scenes in the dark. Nostalgia is not an 'old person' sentiment anymore. It's real and it's hovering above us every minute of the day.
John J. I was truly overwhelmed with love, and some days only remembered to breathe and eat because of my amazing support system. Browsing partly out of curiosity and partly out of a search for something else to do, I came across a series of pages that contained only stark outlines of varying shapes- a wine bottle, a leaf, an apple, etc. It was brilliant. Because, as it turns out, it really is all about the pursuit. This framework is how I endeavor to live my whole life. I hope your work inspires generations of future poets, despite a growing loss of nuance in poetry's ability to critique itself.
Do you ever find yourself going through letters, post cards and old birthday cards received from friends and family members living all over the world? What about catching a movie or a TV show re-run that you grew up. Unbearable sticky sweaty subtropical hotness of August.
It's a bit odd for me as a healthy something-year-old to be writing about death. But having lived through the protracted agony of my mother's death from kidney failure and complications from dialysis, I feel I have some authority on the subject. As we all filed back to work the week after Eid holidays, my mind, unfortunately, was not-so-full of story ideas; rather it was in a post-holiday lull, full of not-taken vacations and the bad TV series that I binge-watched through the break.
We have an education system in which student after student—countless of them—write the same definitions as answers. They probably get the same marks too— four out of five, nine out of ten. I am a Bangladeshi born of a Muslim family. My ancestors were Hindus and, somehow, I have inherited their philosophical instincts.
Although professionally I am an engineer with advanced degrees from the USA, and remain a practicing Muslim, at some point in my life I was drawn to the Indian philosophy and devoted myself to studying Hindu and Buddhist scriptures, seeking to understand the fabric of life. Very recently, I completed a course on acting at a renowned theatre school in Dhaka.