It was the month of November but there still was no sign of snow in the vicinity of DetroitInternationalAirport, or its surrounding for that matter.  I was supposed to fly to Houghton, home of Michigan Tech., a small University town, located 550 miles north west of Detroit.  The plane took off and I could see the fly over crisscrossing each other, and as we approached Marquette, the white flakes of snow, in between the denuded trees, on the ground became visible.  “Well come to the Upper Peninsula”, I exclaimed, to myself, and pondered about what one of my Professor’s had meant when he had described to be me about the Northern part of Michigan. Soon, the plane landed at Marquette airport and most of the passengers got of. Since it was the holiday season, the thanks giving, as the plane took off again with the remaining few passengers, no one joined us for the final leg of the journey.

Upon my arrival at the Hancock airport, I was received by shuttle service personnel who informed that Michigan Tech., had a colorful student body, and termed it as the “United Nations”.  I soon reached the International Students’ Office and was cordially met by Karen; she was the assistant to the Director of the International Students’ Advisor.  Upon inquiry she informed that there was another Bangladeshi student and his name was Anwar Ahmed.

 

I collected the address of Anwar from the International Students’ Office and was on my way to search for him.  Anwar had a checkered history one that could be matched only with his personality.  His father was a CSP (Civil Services of Pakistan), a Bengali who had married a Punjabi lady from West Punjab.  His mother was an Alumni of Texas women’s college, unlike now a days very few women were allowed to study in the States on their own.  Anwar often would tell me things about his family especially his Grand father (Nana);

he was aged but a stout man.  We would talk about the major events that took place in the world.  His favorites were the War of Independence and the Iranian Revolution.  Unlike the one I knew his perspective on the war of Independence was one experienced by a Bangladeshi on the Western front.  His father was given the option to choose and he opted to go to the concentration camp rather than be free, as he opted for Bangladesh.  Anwar and his brother, who were kids, remained free along with their mother.  He would describe the dogfights in the skies over Lahore, when the Indian Air force Planes came to attack positions in the city.  The volunteers would urge the civilians not to watch the encounters, as there could be stray accidents from such fights.  This is the first time I saw the other meaning of the word Razaaquar, he explained that they were volunteers who helped the people in cases of crisis such as war.  I told him that the word was synonymous with the word traitor in Bangladesh, which he already knew.  I felt sorrow for the hardships their family had to undergo during the transient state of birth of Bangladesh.  His parents were separated and his Nana took care of them, as his father slowly made progress in establishing himself in the war ravaged country and soon the family joined the father in Dhaka.  The Nana had married a woman, his second wife from a tribal community who had European like features, blue eyes, fair complexion; it is thought that these people are the descendents of the army which came to conquer the Indian subcontinent under Alexander the great.

His father was posted in the Bangladesh embassy in Tehran during the Iranian revolution.

He would vividly describe the frenzy on the streets the protest the burning of flags.

The day Shah was deposed from his throne the people celebrated by offering sweets and chocolates to the passers by and each other.  He remembered how he was given a box full of Swiss Chocolates.

At the end of each weekday, I would call him and talk about the things that took place during the day.  He would often complain about the problems he had faced with the professors.  I used to stay in the Words Worth hall, and he was in a fraternity-sort-of-house, sharing the place with some other students.  If Jeff would be the first to answer the phone, he would loudly yell ” AAN-WAAR, there is a call for you” drawling on the vowels in atypical mid-western accent.

Meanwhile, the great deluge of 1988 was wreaking havoc in Bangladesh.  There was even a picture of a Toyota Publica in our campus paper, the weekly Tech. Nugget captioned with the following: “An innovative way of saving the car from the flood water in Dhaka.”  This is how Bangladesh is portrayed in the world press a place of famine and floods, I sighed!

Anwar, decided to take a break from studies.  He said he would be going to Chicago and later to Lahore to meet his Nana.  I too decided to visit my parents in Bangladesh who had finally returned to Dhaka from their long stay in the Middle East.

We boarded the same bus, which was operated, by the Grey Hound bus services, in Houghton.  He was supposed to get off in Chicago and I would continue my journey to Buffalo, New York. The bus traveled to Milwaukee in Wisconsin and then to Green Bay and finally reached Chicago in Illinois.  My heart became heavy as it neared the Grey hound bus terminal in the Centerville.  That was the last time I saw him.

One of the reasons that I am writing this article in Reader’s Digest magazine is that may be some one who know the above person please, ( he had a younger brother studying in Kansas State University, in Kansas at the same time, i.e. 1987-88) would be able to tell me his whereabouts.  Readers, please, if you have any information regarding this person or any of his family members; please contact.