He is a Muslim man.
He came to America from Dhaka, and I came from Calcutta. He is one of my best friends here in New York.
He is also like my elder brother. I touch his feet after Durga Puja. He comes to our house and eats breakfast with us. I go to his house and have tea and snacks with him. I call him “dada” and his wife “boudi” our Hindu Bengali way.
We both believe that the British and then their hand-picked, corrupt successors have partitioned us — a very prosperous nation — and destroyed us beyond recognition. He talks about places in West Bengal he has not seen: the temples of Bankura and Birbhum. I talk about places I have not seen in East Bengal: poet Michael Madhusudan’s birthplace in Sagardari and Rabindranath Tagore’s retreat in Silaidaha.
We both remember our cherished Bengali treasure trove of culture: poetry, literature, art and music. The incredible Bengali cuisine. Tagore. Nazrul Islam. Shamsur Rahman. Jibanananda Das. Sunil Ganguly.
And treasured, revolutionary politics and international business entrepreneurship Bengalis have been known for so long. We laugh and we lament looking at the miserable turn of events in today’s Bengal: on both sides.
He has taught me how to be humble, honest and generous. Well, at least he tried. He is one of the best human beings I’ve ever seen in my life.
Salute to our Salam’da. Sarwar Salam.
Brooklyn, New York