My Grandmother's Flight from Bangladesh to America | Teen Ink

My Grandmother's Flight from Bangladesh to America

April 23, 2009
By Mohammed Hussain GOLD, New York City, New York
Mohammed Hussain GOLD, New York City, New York
10 articles 0 photos 15 comments

My Grandmother’s Flight
from Bangladesh to America

Who is my grandmother? It is a question that can seemingly be answered easily. She is the one the person that keeps my house in tact; she washes my family’s clothes, cleans the house, and cooks for my family. Everyday, she wakes up early to help my siblings, Farzana, Farhana, and Annha, and me get ready for school. First, she takes out our school clothes; she examines them to make sure they are clean. Next, she chooses the socks and shoes that we may wear. Then, she gives us aid if we need help. Finally, she cooks and makes sure we have breakfast before leaving for school. My grandmother continues to work and take care of the household throughout the day. Occasionally, she will sit down and watch a Bangladeshi soap-opera while consuming a cup of hot tea. My grandmother’s daily routine of working to help my family is similar every day; however, there are times in which she goes outside to buy things or does something else which breaks this routine. Still, her life is considered dull, boring, and average to many others’ life. However, this is far from the truth; my grandmother’s life was once different. When she was young, she lived a joyous life (most of the times it was joyous); however, this changed during the Bangladeshi war and her arrival to America.

As a young child, my grandmother had to deal with many good things and some bad. She was born as an orphan; she never saw her parent’s faces and had to live with her uncle and aunts. She was never given the chance to read or write in Bengali (however, she did get the opportunity to learn Arabic and read the Koran). Nevertheless, these disadvantages could not outweigh the good aspects of her life. She played a lot of games as a child and had fun. She ate a lot too; food was plentiful during that time and she enjoyed the apples, oranges, grapes, rice, chicken, and other foods she ate. Also, she traveled a lot; she went to places in Bangladesh such as her father’s friend’s house, and her aunt’s new house, and visited different villages and towns. She also wore beautiful clothing. My grandmother was adorned with luxurious clothing with embroiled designs and fancy fabric; she remembers the beautiful “saris” that ranged from shimmering red to bright yellow. By her beginning teenage years, she married my grandfather and continued to live her good life. However, as the saying goes, all good things must come to an end, and that happened in my grandmother’s life.

Not more than three years after my grandmother’s marriage, disaster struck. Pakistan mobilized. Bangladesh prepared. A war was beginning. Bangladesh is a small country. If you looked at its size and compared it to the size of Pakistan, the country that had control of Bangladesh before the war, you would be surprised that Bangladesh actually became independent. My grandmother’s country wanted freedom; however, it was an underdog similar to the thirteen colonies when they fought Britain for America’s freedom. As the war continued in Bangladesh, daily men were dying, blood was being shed, and families were being split apart from one another. My grandmother had to work hard to keep her children safe along with herself and her husband. Thus, she went into a refugee camp. Food had become extremely limited. According to my grandmother, “One gram of flour cost Bangladeshi one hundred dollars.” My grandmother had to live on eating bread other unappetizing food. Furthermore, she could not eat much because she did not want her family members to starve. My grandmother describes the war as dangerous; men were slaughtered and animals killed. Blood could be seen for miles and miles. After two years of living in fear and danger, the war was over: Bangladesh had overcome the odds and become an independent nation.

A long time after the war, in which peace had been restored to Bangladesh, my grandmother came to America. She first boarded the plane. It was a strange experience to fly on an airplane for my grandmother; she had never seen anything so big up close and had never been so far from the ground. On the airplane, she was served rice, chicken and coffee. When she arrived, she was very nervous: the tall buildings and large, crowded streets were strikingly different from the villages and small, lonely roads in Bangladesh. She felt semi-unconscious and nauseous. Eventually, she settled into the house my father had rented. It was white, clean, spacious and beautiful, but my grandmother did not feel content. She became nostalgic, being away from her home country. Nevertheless, she eventually adapted to the atmosphere of the Bronx. In fact, she started to like America. When she walked down the street, police officers would aid her and call her “mommy” to show respect as she was as elderly person, and occasionally people in stores would say “hi” and “hello.” Ten years passed and my grandmother had become adapted to living her life of taking care of my family and siblings by helping us whenever we needed her.
My grandmother may seem like an “Average Joe”, but she is far from that. She has dealt with harsh times and good times, sad times and happy times, and still, has lived to tell her tales. Before the war, her life was great, but eventually the war between Bangladesh and Pakistan brought forth hard times. No longer had she the beautiful clothing, food, or privileges to explore like in the past. Instead, she was consumed by fear. Eventually, she came to America, where despite having to adjust to a new lifestyle and deal with bad experiences, she is content. My grandmother may seem like any other person, but her life is unique.

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This article has 3 comments.

Kazi550 said...
on Jul. 20 2011 at 11:28 am

Even though i was born in America, I love Bangladesh and all the wonderful experiences it brings.  You really should visit as soon as you can because it becomes tough as you get older with responsibilities, etc. 

"deshe Beshi balo lage"

on Jul. 24 2010 at 11:41 pm
Mohammed Hussain GOLD, New York City, New York
10 articles 0 photos 15 comments

Thank oyu so much for the adulation. I appreciate your comments truly. I do speak Bengali. I have not yet visited ( ever since I came), but I hear from my grandmother and parents that Bangladesh is a truly beautiful country.

Thank you again for the comment.

on Jun. 27 2010 at 6:58 am
TanazMasaba GOLD, Dhaka, Other
16 articles 10 photos 214 comments

Favorite Quote:
"You've gotta dance like there's nobody watching,
Love like you'll never be hurt,
Sing like there's nobody listening,
And live like it's Heaven on Earth."

---William W. Purkey

my father was hardly 4 years old when the war of independance broke out in Bangladesh, yet he remembers every thing that happened. Its such a painful story! There are heroes like your grandma who lives among us; unnoticed. And it really hurt when you said she was not allowed to read or write in Bengali. Did you ever come to Bangladesh? Do you speak Bengali? It feels nice to know that my people are talented writers on teenink. Seriously this article was very creatively done