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Dear Dhaka



Dear Dhaka,

As I am writing this letter, I am thinking about you.  It has been years since I last saw you. Are you still the way I left you? You change so fast, a little too fast. I don’t know what to expect from you anymore. Are your sky still a little grey and the buildings too tall? Are your streets still overcrowded? Do you still smell like home?


Dear Dhaka, 

I think about you often. I think about the smell of beef bhuna being cooked in Rashfee’s apartment making its way into my room; the strong smell of cardamom that she put a little too much of. The sound of Priti’s music and her sa re ga mas coming from the 2nd floor. I think about my afternoon walks to the Dhanmondi lake, when the sky is still grey and the air smells like wet grass. I think about my walk down the narrow lanes of road 7 and seeing masala cha, brain bhaji, and fuchhka carts. I think about the tamarind mixed with green chilies coating the lentil doughs, the spices making my eyes tear up, and how I still can’t have enough of it. 


10847588_796568203729533_4250960780644666199_oDear Dhaka,

Do you still have people coming out on the streets chanting Joy Bangla when we defeat India by 3 wickets? Do you still have red and green floating across the crowd and playing the songs from [19]71? Do you still stop the cars on the roads and just let people dance to this victory? I think about those people. I think about cricket. I think about how much this victory means to us. And not just because getting that trophy means the world knows about us, but it means the world sees us. The world sees our trauma and fight. The world sees that this game is not just in the field, but also on the borders. Their cricket bat is not just hitting our ball, but also our 13 yr old girls playing tag near the border, and forgetting for just a brief second that they were not supposed to cross that white line. We do not just run to score, we run from their bullets. This cheer is not only about the tears we shed for our win, but for all the blood of we shed because of them. I think about it a lot. I don’t like thinking about it at all.


Dear Dhaka,

I think about you — about your trees with brown leaves and colorful roses. I think about the potholes38068062_1804233252964091_5759465661201907712_o on the roads and bridges with blue lights. I think about your five-star hotels, and ripped tents by the dumpsters in Mirpur 7. I think about the tall buildings with seven pools on the rooftop, and the Mayor’s son stoning the stray cat. Do you still let young Fatima clean shoes? Do you still let her father come home drunk and beat her mother? Do you still smell like home?




Dear Dhaka,

I think about Tonu. Why did you hate her so much? What did she do to be raped, murdered and be thrown out on the bushes left to rot? You never punished the man who did this to her. Why is he so important to you? Why is he not rotting away? Even after we set fire for her, even after we blocked your streets in her name, and even after all the women in the city cried for justice — did you still not care? Did you hate her that much?

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Dear Dhaka,

I spent 19yrs of my life with you. You gave me a lot to cherish. You gave me a lot to hate. I appreciate your rain, and but I resent your flood. I do not like your grey sky, but the thunders are not scary. I cannot tolerate your jammed packed roads, but I cannot sleep without the noise. I hate your dry air but without it, I cannot breathe.  You are too loud sometimes, but I don’t mind speaking a little louder. I think about  Kalam uncle’s dudh cha beside my school, and all the conversations that unfolded over a cup of tea there. But why did just let his son whistle at me, every time he saw me? Why did you not stop him from staring at my ankles and touching my2 waist?

I think about you. I enjoy the privilege of having a place I can call home. But I am not sorry that I left you. Yet here I am today, 9000 miles away from you, and I still think about you.


Yours truly,


One Response to “Dear Dhaka”

  1. Shifti: Nicely done. I enjoyed reading this and learning about your home and its complicated hold on you. Also, thank you for your comments and questions throughout the term. I appreciated your engagement and enjoyed having you in this class.

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