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The day before it happened, my father and I went to the historic Bangladesh vs. India cricket match at Bangabandhu National Stadium. It was Bangladesh’s 100th international match-thousands of people attended. We were in the stands, intently focused, fervently hoping for an upset. My father was so enthusiastic that he seemed like a fellow teenager. When Bangladesh defeated India for the first time ever, parades and celebrations erupted in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. We went out to dinner with my mother and two brothers to celebrate. That jubilant day turned out to be far more significant in my memory than I had imagined at the time.
The next time I saw my father was when I was rushed to the hospital to see him after school the next day. He had taken ill, I was told. But when I arrived, his body was already draped in a white cloth. My father, the invincible Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh, had died of a sudden heart attack at work. Seeing him dead felt like the end of the world. My family and country were shattered. One day your father, a national figure, is vibrant and involved, and the next day, he is lifeless and carried away. Nothing would ever be the same. “Your father would have wanted you to continue working hard at school,” my mother urged. “And that is how you can honor him.”
The mourning period in Bangladesh is 40 days. Two weeks later, however, were the 10th grade exams, and my mother insisted that I take them. I returned to class just four days after my father’s death. Determined to honor him, I studied with newfound dedication and resolve. Even with all my relatives in the house mourning, I focused on my studies. In the end, I scored second highest in Bangladesh out of almost 10,000 students who took the mathematics exam. My father would have been proud.
However, our family still felt paralyzed. When the Ministry of Foreign Affairs offered my mother a job at the Consulate General’s office in New York, she promptly accepted, even though she had not worked for almost fifteen years. We moved to New York and our world changed dramatically. We went from a big house in Bangladesh to a small New York apartment; from the very public life of a diplomat’s family, to a simpler more anonymous lifestyle; from a small private school, to a large, bustling New York City public high school.
I worked hard to make the transition successful and now know that my father would be proud of my results. I am now a senior, aiming to attend my dream college, MIT. Instead of pursuing government diplomacy, I have applied my leadership skills as captain of the Science Olympiad Team and my High School’s Gold Medal winning Junior Math Team. I have topped the average of our school’s valedictorian, although I will not be ranked because I have attended school here for only a year.
I am not the same person I was the day I went to the cricket game with my father. I have seen how fragile life can be, and have learned how to persevere in spite of great sorrow. I, too, want to serve mankind not as my father did by fostering understanding and communication between nations, but by helping to advance the world’s technology, and thereby improving the human condition.
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