A letter from Nuhash Humayun for his father
Baby Nuhash with Humayun and Gultekin
Sometime after my father’s first surgery this July I wrote him a letter, which I had planned to email to my aunt and uncle who were there with him in New York. I wanted them to read it out to him once he was conscious. He didn’t get to read it, he never fully gained consciousness before his passing, and I feel this stark emptiness inside of me because I never got to share it with him. It’s a very personal letter but I thought maybe, just maybe, I could fill that void a little if I shared it with another soul.
I hope you’re feeling well. I haven’t been feeling great myself. I caught typhoid and the sickness made my stomach extremely sensitive. For an entire week I ate nothing but a disgustingly unappetising form of rice that I believe is called jau in Bangla. Bed ridden and stuck eating jau, I imagined all the delicious things I’d finally get to eat once I was better. At one point, I was really craving lobster and it reminded me of something.
Right after you and Mom got divorced, things were pretty rough for me. For one thing, I always hoped that things might get back to normal and you would move back in with us. But after the divorce I realised that door is permanently closed. In chemistry terms, I witnessed a combustion; a burn. An irreversible process.
What I was most afraid of was that you and I would get distanced and you wouldn’t see me as your son anymore. A few days after the divorce, you called me up. You said you just came back from the bazaar with some gigantic lobsters and you wanted to cook them and have them with me at your place. We both knew that wouldn’t be possible. You can’t have a feast during the Cold War. But that wasn’t the end of it. About half an hour later, the intercom started ringing. The guard told me my father was standing outside the gate holding a live lobster. I went downstairs puzzled, amused and slightly excited. You said, “Son, I really wanted to have this with you, but it just isn’t possible right now. I can assure you, however, that I’ll always be around. And someday, we can sit and have a good meal together again. But for now, I want you to have this.” And then you handed me a live lobster. That horrendous creature, with its beady eyes and slimy long feet, to me, meant hope. Hope that no matter the circumstances, you would always try to be there for me.
I don’t think I’ve been there for you, at least not as much as I should have been. When I did call you, you were usually not in a state to talk. And even when we did, I’ve been too upset to express myself well. I was never the wordsmith you were. Coming to see you was painful when you returned to Dhaka before your surgery. It was painful to be stopped at the gates to your place every time. No son should have to answer to a security guard every time he wants to see his father. But none of that is an excuse; I should have been there for you more. I want all that to change. I want to let you know that I really miss you. I want you to know it still burns me that I can’t have you around as much as I’d like. This letter is my lobster to you.
Your son, Nuhash