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Periscop 5

Periscop 5

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Published by Masud Khan Shujon

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Published by: Masud Khan Shujon on Jul 29, 2011
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07/29/2011

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PeriscopeHome in the Global Village“Welcome home.” The immigration official smiled up at me as hehanded my passport back. Just those two words and a smile, noquestions about why I am living in Bangladesh, why I have entrystamps from various countries in the Middle East, Africa and Asia inthe last few years; he did not ask me any of the questions which Ihad prepared answers to in my head during my airplane’s descentinto the O’Hare Airport in Chicago. While grabbing my luggage, Iwas further welcomed by a dozen or so smiles, nods and greetingsof “how ya doing” from strangers (these friendly Americans mustnot have received the memo sent to the denizens of the foreignclubs in Dhaka). Then the cherry on top, the greeting that I havebeen dreaming about since I boarded my plane; with a heartrending (for I have not heard his voice in a while), joyous shout of “Baba, Baba, Daddy, Daddy” from my little man, a whirling dervishof mad cap hair, long eyelashes, missing tooth, hugs, kisses (hemomentarily forgot in his excitement that he was too big to kiss hisdad in public), manic energy pouring forth in a burst of stories, plansfor games that we are going to play, books that we are going toread together, places we are going to go, and food that we aregoing to eat. As I took my wife in my arms and was greeted by thewarmth of my mom-in-law, it hit me—I was home!Since my move to Dhaka, and my wife and son’s continuedtransition to life in Dhaka (with extended and much needed breaksin Wisconsin), I would sometimes trip over statements referring to“my life back home” when talking about my life in the US, or“coming back home” when talking about coming back toBangladesh. During those times, I somehow did not feelcomfortable with referring to or thinking of both places as “home,”especially thinking of Wisconsin/America as home after I left it acouple of years back. I had fallen victim to a particular emotionwhen thinking of America that seems to only affect liberals,especially ones who look at America from outside its borders —asense of disillusionment, a feeling akin to unrequited love (wherethe object of the love not only rejects the love, but also all of thevalues of the lover). Like many progressives, I have beendevastated by the reports in newspapers and friends’ blogs aboutthe rightward shift in American politics since the enthusiasmgenerated on the left by Obama’s election; I have been deeplydisturbed by the Islamophobia that seems to have risen to thesurface at the prodding of the Park 51 controversy in New York; Icontinue to be bemused by the irrationality that pervades everydiscussion as to where the country is heading (and whose fault it isas to why we are here). Every newspaper opinion piece, dinner
 
conversation, online discussion to which I was dragged into while Iwas away, all seemed to focus on all that ails America, making mydetachment from America all that much easier. By the time Iboarded my airplane in Dhaka, I was thinking of America as the“other.”However, all that started changing after hearing the first shout of “Baba” when I walked out of the airport terminal. My change inperception has continued in my last few days in Wisconsin as I havebeen reminded why I love “home”. I now find that I can be happy inmy home in Wisconsin while looking forward to going home toDhaka. Coming home to America, my country which has succoredme my whole adult life, educated me, trained me, helped find myplace in this world and picked me up when I fell, has wiped out allthe doubts, the feelings of disillusionment and of unrequited love,which I have felt while I was away for the last couple of years.Breakfast every morning of oatmeal, brown bread and fruits with myfamily while watching the morning sun stroke the autumn leavesgolden; walks by the river in the cool day while breathing out steam,visit to my son’s school and sitting down at lunch with hisclassmates, driving fast on the highway and singing to old songs onthe radio with my wife and son, breaking bread and laughing withold friends, with the joy and laughter wiping away the years inbetween; the fond memories of living and growing up in a place forover 20 years, has bonded me back to this country. I am againamazed (like I was when I first landed on these shores 22 years ago)at the courtesy and affability of strangers, the diversity and energythat is present everywhere I go and that seems to belie all of thepundits who are ringing the death knell of the great Americanexperiment.Home is where my son and my wife were born; home is a placewhich resonates with “yes” and “can do,” where “impossible”becomes “i.m.possible”; home is where my mom-in-law is my son’sbest friend and greatest teacher; home is where I looked into mywife’s eyes 20 years ago (while being married by our AfricanAmerican theology professor) and vowed to celebrate with herthrough times of illumination and love, and support her duringdarkness and turmoil, and be with her until death; home is wheremy friends are; home is where I will vote on November 3
rd
and hoponto to a plane to fly home that very day. Home is Wisconsin,America.Home is where I was born; home is where my ancestors are buried;home is where my mother relishes the food she feeds me, andbestows on me her blessings by softly blowing on my head after herprayers; home is where my son’s dadumoni is waiting to help himgrow, where his cousins are there to help him feel he is part of something bigger; home is where my friends are; home is where I

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