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A passionate dreamer aspiring to make a difference
Born and raised in Bangladesh, I consider writing to be an integral part of my life that helps me perceive human emotions unlike any other thing. You may often find me reading books or online blogs in my free times. As an ardent believer of human synergy, I dream of a world where everyone of us will possess a sense of greater purpose and solidarity.
I looked at it again. The little chit in my hand clearly read “My Father.” It was seventh grade and I was representing my house in the junior group of Inter-House English Extempore Speech Competition. “My father is the best person I have ever met,” I started my speech… with a lie. Silence. Nothing. Not even a faint syllable came out of my mouth. I stood at the podium wordlessly for an entire minute — an entire minute of rage, humiliation, and frustration. Then, I quickly got down. My father had left us two years earlier. I remember him leaving home on a Friday morning and never coming back. In six months, we shifted to a gloomy two-room apartment and I switched to a small government primary school from the semi-posh private school I used to attend. Still, my mother bore an assuring countenance and repeatedly reminded me and my younger sister, “everything is alright!” I wish they were. Financial hardship was just one part of our story, but being stereotyped and constantly judged by the society was a far worse part. Although my eleven-year-old self grew strong enough to accept our outright insolvency, it barely survived through the scathing South Asian culture of stigmatizing marital separation and divorce. I was routinely failing to not get hurt by the frowns and questions I received for not having my father with us. About one and a half year went by like this. On a chilly evening in January 2011, I discovered for the first time that my mother could actually cry. I was helping my sister with her homework and suddenly got stupefied by the muffled sobs coming from the other room. We three cried altogether that night. Next morning, I was told by my mother that she did not want me to ruin my life with them there. Few weeks later, I found myself appearing the cadet college admission test. My new life started 230 kilometers away from home. My first days at Faujdarhat Cadet College were really harsh. Being shorter and bulkier than most of my classmates, I had tougher times in adapting to this para-military high school. I had an unfathomable guilt for my crippling family and never found anyone whom I could relate to. I was terribly homesick. Still, I tried. Just when I seemed to have pulled myself together, I again drowned in the abyss of inferiority complex and self-loathing after my humiliating performance in that extempore speech competition. I started dismissing all my worth and ability as a son, friend, and human being. That year passed by too. In eighth grade, we were asked to write a personal narrative essay for Bengali courseworks. Being stuck in my own suffocating shame spiral, I started writing it. But as I proceeded, I felt honest and free from whatever confines and insecurities I had within me. I wrote about all my family struggles, my insidious depressions, and my vulnerabilities. I poured my full heart out there and sought solace. When our copies were returned, the teacher called me to his room. He appreciated my work and asked if I wanted to share it with my classmates. I cannot explain what exactly crossed my mind then: I nodded. Reading out that essay to the whole class that day became a massive turnaround for me. I was surprised to find how everyone loved my story and praised my courage. I was even more surprised to find how that courage became right away contagious among them. I discovered many of my classmates opening up about their own stories soon and eventually realized that I was not the only one in my boat. None of us were. Everyone had, has, and will have their own stories of struggles and inspirations. This realization filled me with an unparalleled strength and helped me regain my self-esteem. Fast forward to a few more years. I started a peer counseling group in my school. I started preaching the “power of sharing” in a broader and more structured way among the students of other classes. Over the years, my belief in its sheer importance on mental health grew stronger and its tremendous impact on a particular community became clearer. I know how people are hesitant to reach out to others with their problems and what costs they suffer due to this. So, I carry on my battle to help everyone have a voice and use my writings to wipe out all these stigmas. Whenever I go through bad times now, I remind myself that as I could gather such immense courage and make a difference, then I can definitely take pronounced steps towards the life I desire. We all can . . .