Writing 101, Day Twenty: The Things We Treasure

Today’s prompt: Tell us the story of your most-prized possession. Today’s twist:.We extolled the virtues of brevity back on day five, but now , let’s jump to the other side of the spectrum and turn to long-form writing. Let’s celebrate the drawn- out, slowly cooked , wide_ shot narrative.

At fifteen I crossed the hurdle of high school and landed on safe grounds. The only option opened for me was college and that too a co-ed college. There was no such thing as a college for girls in my hometown in those days.

I happily registered myself in first year Arts faculty, Arts you might think how boring! But for a fifteen year old lacking the blessings of a father, it was a pretty good deal. I’d rather not bore you with all the subjects I had to take, there was one important enough to mention which was responsible for my decision to change my school or college I mean. The subject was Urdu, you might think ,”Aren’t you a Bengali?” “Why would you study Urdu?” Believe it or not I didn’t have a choice, I studied Bengali in the lower grades it was not enough to enable me to take Bengali as a vernacular, which brings the question how much Urdu did I know and where did I study it.

My father worked in Rawalpindi where Urdu was spoken and in a school where the medium of instruction was English, we had to take a different language and  Urdu was the only other language taught.I started right from the alphabets and slowly was able to read and write. I spoke it before I knew how to read or write it. This was my background in Urdu. Unfortunately I was the sole female student in the class the rest were boys. The boys day in and day out would tease me about everything when I spoke and when I  didn’t.

It was unbearable for me I complained to my mother, how difficult it was for me to be in that class. Mom promised me she’d make arrangements for me to pursue my studies in the big city, where they had a reputable girls college.

After two years I left the college in my town and registered in Holy Cross College in Dhaka city. Nuns were our teachers, I was used to the nuns. I studied in a convent in Rawalpindi. Things were going great, I settled into my routine, I was residing in a hostel with thirty-two other girls who were kind and friendly. I was doing well in school, but I frequently missed home, my siblings and my mother. Whenever we had a few days holidays I’d pack up and go home.

It was in one of these journeys I got very scared ,I was traveling by train suddenly the window of the train was opened by  a man from outside,  he   looked in, I was afraid he’d come inside the compartment, there were other passengers in there  who were   unconcerned, I was petrified when I saw his face, it was one of those I had never seen, it seemed his nose and his mouth was barely visible.

Today from reading books, talking to physicians I know it’s a birth defect,back then I had no idea. I came home told my mother how it frightened me to see that man. She taught me some verses from the Qur’an which she wanted me to repeat in times of danger. On the day of my departure to Dhaka she gave me a small square shining silver case where there was the Holy Qur’an to carry  on my person to keep me safe when I traveled. She said, “Ranu you have nothing to worry you’ll be safe wherever you go.”

Once I was on a plane flying from Comilla to Dhaka city, it seemed the pilot was experiencing problems, I think he told the crew about it, two of the flight attendants were running back and forth. I sensed there was some problem with the plane, why else would the plane circle  over Dhaka city for more than an hour. It only takes twenty-five minutes to reach Dhaka by plane. I breathed a sigh of relief when the plane  finally landed, the landing was not normal, the pilot had to use up the fuel to avoid fire, because he had to make a belly landing. It was weird the plane suddenly landed straight down.

It was  the  first time I had this experience. After the plane landed I overheard one of the flight attendants, saying, “Thank God they are safe.” I was absolutely sure we were alive because of  my precious souvenir .

Another time my husband and I were traveling from Chicago to Montreal, right before the landing the pilot announced that there was something wrong with the brakes and the landing would be rough,he told us not to worry, I was afraid, amazingly enough the pilot made a smooth landing.

The memento from my mom has traveled long distances, before leaving my house I make sure it is in my handbag.It gives me complete joy when I look at it, the memory of my mother comes alive, it feels as if she is saying you have the most precious thing with you, take care of it, do not misplace it. You cannot attach a value, it is invaluable, it is rare , it cannot be replaced.

I have taken it with me to examination halls, it never failed me. I took it with me to the interview for a scholarship to study teaching English as a Foreign language in London, England,I got the scholarship, never in my wildest imagination did I think I’d be successful. My dreams became a reality, the credit goes to my priceless keepsake given to me by my mom!!

Thank you Michelle and Dr. Miller. I thoroughly enjoyed Writing 101. I’m ready for the next one. I could not make it a thousand but am close. My writing 101, day twenty is ready to publish. ……………………………………