We went to our top favorite green places our last trip back to our ‘village -home’. I just wish we could have stayed for five hours instead of two.
As a foreigner living in Bangladesh, sometimes it can feel like you are always small-talking. Everyone wants to know the answer to those thirty questions. Where are you from? Is your husband Bengali? Where do your kid go to school? Do you like it here? Can you cook Bengali food? Right now in this new neighborhood, I’m just getting through the 30 questions with most everyone.
That’s why it was surprising when a new Auntie friend of mine, who I will call Polly, cut the small talk after three minutes and said, “Today is my father’s death anniversary.” I began to ask questions and the whole story poured out.
Her father was a leading citizen of the country back in the 60’s. He was involved in local politics and had been reelected for 30 years straight. He had a large family and Polly was the youngest baby in ’71 when the Pakistanis started killing and the War of Independence started. She says her father was one of the first ten men killed in the whole country. She knows which Bengali individual did the killing (as it was more like a civil war than just Pakistanis against Bengalis). After the war, those Bengalis who had joined the Pakistanis in fighting threatened Poly’s family. Poly’s oldest brother had to go into hiding. But now, the present government is putting those individuals who had joined the Pakistanis on trial for their war crimes. For the first time, Poly can talk about all of this. She can dig up the past dirt and she doesn’t need to fear retribution.
Many say that the trials are corrupted and politically motivated. The two sides of the country are bitterly divided about the trials. Just last week I heard a lady saying that one of the men hung for his war crimes was so righteous and pure that God had sent an angel (in the form of a cat) during his last hours on earth. Hmm. I was so surprised at that conversation that I was dumbstruck. Usually people don’t have such a high view of cats!
This conversation with Poly was a first for me — it was the first personal take on the trial. I saw the little tears in the corners of her eyes. This wasn’t just some brain-washed response that was taught — it was some body’s Papa.
This wonderful family lives about ten minutes away. They have eight year old twins. It took my kids maybe five minutes to hit it off with them! We have done the ‘formal’ visits with large meals back and forth. Now it’s time to relax and just be friends without all the kaowa-doawa (all the dinner party stuff).
101 cookbook’s pumpkin chickpea salad and grilled cheese. Yum. So thankful for local mozzarella cheese. Below — a normal Bengali dish — poi shak (a rubbery creeper), with red lentils, onions, garlic, tumeric, salt, and chili. You mix it up with a table spoon of oil, add about a cup of water, and cook it for about twenty minutes. My kids won’t eat much of it, but I like it.
Maia making coconut cookies. We are still trying to copy Melissa’s ones — they were the best!
Our kitten, Willow, thinks that her litter box is the best place to play. Or that our card game is the the place to wrestle. My toddler is the same. Dirt is for eating (do you see him with his finger up high, saying no no to himself as he heads to the veranda for another bite?) It’s hard to get school work done when two babies are climbing and biting and think that wagging pencils are an invitation for some fun.
One happy surprise in all of this has been that my two babies play with each other for hours. I’ll find them both in the kitchen, playing with a spoon. The toddler hits, the kitten jumps. Or they eat each other’s crumbs. Or bite each other’s toes. Our guests are sometimes afraid for the baby (won’t he get scratched?) or for the kitten (won’t she get hurt?) but so far, okay. Of course I have to intervene regularly!
Friday the 8th of Sept. Today was the day that we welcomed Lola for a visit all the way from Virginia. And today was the day that Willow joined our household. We opted for a more expensive (and thus healthy, vaccinated, potty trained) kitten. So much fun. Now this house has a loud welcomer. And now we are making memories with grandparents here too.