For #JoinTogether: Sharing my Migrant Story

The only migrant that I know is I.

I was born in Dhaka, Bangladesh in a privileged minority family. While at school, my family decided to migrate to Canada for a better life and for our better future. We were three siblings all at school and dreamt of a happy life. At that age, knowing that you get a break from studying because you are moving to a different country meant unlimited holiday. But, one does not realise the personal loss, the loss of identity and the loss of self while leaving behind everything that one worked towards or believed and moving to a completely alien place.

Life in Canada was not a culture shock for my family, at least, not for me. I adjusted well in school and got quickly integrated. Thanks to globalisation and my family’s previous foreign tours that enabled me to envision what life could be like. It was much later in life when I started university and even after that when it came to applying for jobs that terms like “Canadian experience”, “FOB” which means “Fresh off the Boat”, immigrants started to make noise in my ears. I was suddenly placed in this foreign land and space where I have been asked to make a choice: the choice between one’s identity based on birth and one’s own-presumed identity based on naturalisation. But, just like Salman Rushdie, I resonate, “I refuse to choose!” My inclusiveness should not be based upon accepting or rejecting any part of my identity. The only identity I have is everything that I know, everything that I experienced and everything that I stand for. Despite this being the truth, I did not realise it till I left Canada again to study in the UK. I do not know whether not having a permanent home or whether it was age and experience that led me to realise that I am me and I can be whoever I want to be. There are very few places left in this world where one can be genuinely discriminated on the grounds of their migration status and especially not in Canada.

My family eventually settled in Canada but I believe they are still battling their immigrant-battle. Some groups of people who happen to travel to the same land before we did for some rationale have started to believe that they more to say and claim about the migration issue. I disagree with them. I do however; feel proud that given the dynamic global politics and seeing that the biggest bully can rule the world’s superpower due to negligence in voting, I am proud to be Canadian. I feel more proud when people come up to me and say, “Are you from Canada?”, “You have the best Prime Minister in the world!” What it does to me is reassure that I have not lost and I have not taken the wrong decision.

If I look at myself and look beyond my flesh, at some point in my life, I will find myself segregating a newer immigrant from me for the same sense of superiority that I have been initially segregated from. But, what I am actually doing is establishing my insecurity and that cannot be right. Today when I think of raising a family, I think of raising my children in Canada. I see myself sending my children to a school where they have classmates from all over the world and they all share their stories and enrich a child’s experience. I want my children to make friends: friends from Iraq, friends from Syria, friends from Afghanistan, friends from Jerusalem, friends from India, friends from Nova Scotia, friends from Europe, Africa and friends from the remotest place on earth and share their lives so that they learn about themselves. They learn from an early age that humans enrich humans and there is no greater wealth than acknowledging this kinship.imageedit_2_7849598817

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2017

I have not really ever materialised my resolutions but this year, I have decided to pursue something that I consider to be a difficult challenge for me. I have decided to let go of my past and forgive. I don’t know if I will be able to do so but I will definitely try. In realising this resolution, I have asked my friends to help me in letting go and become a better human being.

The thoughts of everything that happened to humanity in 2016 disturb me and I find myself waking up in the middle of the night in fear, resentment and disbelief. But, no matter what happens to us, one cannot stop living just because life is so beautiful and we always can rise and bring a positive change.

At a personal level, I have been facing my own demons. I have been struggling with my inner self and been facing continuous conflicts which have kept me very restless. I need to let go of this toxic feelings that I have piled up inside me over the years and move forward. I want to focus on love! I want to spend time travelling, reading books, taking pleasure in the little joys of life… Above all, I want to participate in raising awareness and voicing concerns for those who can’t stand up for themselves not because they are weak but because they have been made vulnerable…

I can’t change the world but I can definitely do my bit. I want to be able to say to the next gen. that I have tried to retain faith in humanity. I want to believe that laughter, children’s play, their playgrounds and melting ice-creams matter, no matter how many Wall Streets we set up for ourselves or how many times we defeat human spirits in casting out votes or how much we segregate each other and find our differences. Even now, when I look out, I find we are the same and every loss traces its roots back to me!

Love conquers all!

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Finding the Sufi within me in Istanbul…

Finding the Sufi within me in Istanbul….

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Finding the Sufi within me in Istanbul…

WP_20150609_024Whenever I go somewhere where time has left its traces, they speak to me. Amidst all my commitments this year, I felt suffocated and I felt I needed to get away. The exhaustion and the angst was purely from an emotional level and nothing to do with physical being tired. I gave Istanbul a thought.

When I stepped into the ancient city, apart from finding centuries old traditions, food, great people and landmarks, I was greeted by the stories that lived in its air. I always said to myself that someday, if I get to see this place, I would see the dervishes dance that my heart longed for. My world is so distant from the echoes of Istanbul that I can barely have a discussion about what one goes through in finding oneself. Or, should I say, we are so engulfed with materialism that perhaps, our inner sufi rarely surpasses from our soul through our body and makes us aware of our surrounding and true self.

My journey was so fulfilling that I felt I found myself and I was so satisfied and fulfilled: a feeling that I have not have had in a very long time or I rarely feel that way these days. When I came to London to reality, my heart kept thinking about Istanbul and I said to myself, “I would visit you again!”

The blueness and the tranquillity of the Blue Mosque, the swirling of the dervish, the flow of the Marmara Sea cannot be expressed in words. I would fail even if I tried to express myself. I can only rejoice its presence.

This was my first trip after my wedding with my love, Sushan and my brother, Deep accompanied me. I think it would be fair to say that we all brought a lot with us when we departed the city. It gave us some light that could be used to fuel our souls. And I am disappointed at the utter failure of expression when I am trying to write about it now…

I think whenever I will think about that place again, I will envision the dance of the sufis and how I lost myself there. Yes, I can say, I found a bit of myself there, brought a bit of the place with me and left a part of me there…

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Hindu Girls in Bangladesh

Sometime around this time last year, I came across an article in a local newspaper called, “The Plight of Hindu Girls in Bangladesh”. I was busy pursuing my Bar but what she wrote was so painful and tragic that I could not forget about it. It stayed somewhere in my memory. I wanted to write about it and bring it up again. As a Hindu girl born with education and privilege, I wanted to raise the issue to a bigger audience. The author, who went through cruel experiences as a married Hindu girl in Bangladesh posed the question to the members of the society about whether the injustices on Hindu girls would ever stop in our country. I consider this my response to her outcry and an address to the countless girls in Bangladesh who happen to belong to the religious and ethnic minorities in Bangladesh.

Firstly, there are some legal loopholes in Hindu law in Bangladesh. Girls according to Hindu law has absolutely no inheritance rights from the father. When a girl is married off to her husband, she not only loses every right to be in her father’s gotra, but belongs to her husbands’. She is not entitled to any inheritance from her husband’s property either. She is only entitled to take care of the husband’s property as long as she is alive and live on it. She is not entitled to inherit or own and take any action that would require her to own or disown her husband’s property. This means, she has absolutely no inheritance right from any of her familial relations which is the primary source of inheritance of property in Bangladesh. I believe that a father has not recognised his child till he has given her property rights. If a son’s importance can be recognised through property, a daughter’s should be the same. However, Hindu practices differ in our Bangladesh. Secondly, there is no legal limit to the number of times a Hindu man can get married. Hindu law does not put any restrictions and as a part of practising polygamy, there is no consideration of the protection of the first wife. There is no mandatory registration, therefore, a man can marry as many times as possible even when he is doing it for fun and there will not be any official record of it. Hence, prosecution of his actions become extremely difficult and reliant on evidence and witnesses. Additionally, after a girl has been married off to her husband, if she gives birth to a daughter, the daughter just like the mother is not entitled to any inheritance. According to the Hindu law practised in Bangladesh, cousins and the family dog has more respect and right in the family in comparison to the daughter and the daughter-in-law. Domestic violence and limited education for girls are extremely common even in educated families where the boy’s education is always given priority. Thirdly, the laws practised by the Hindu community in Bangladesh not only affects the Hindus living in the country but also all the religious minorities taking into account the Christians, the Buddhists and the Tribals.Therefore, I do not need to reiterate the importance of reforming the backdated Hindu laws that are practised in Bangladesh.

The origin of Hindu marriage law can be traced back to the ancient eras of B.C. and its elements are referred to in the ancient scriptures of Rig Vedas. Hindu rituals or more accurately rituals of the Sanatanahas little or nothing to do with the current practices of Hindu law. The Hindu law is also not a derivative of any religious law like Islam. The communion that is mentioned in the ancient Hindu scriptures refer to a union which speaks of love and a responsible informed decision between two individuals. However, what is practised in Bangladesh is very different from its origin. It is necessary to mention that our neighbouring country and the largest Hindu population in the world, India has reformed the backdated practices of Hindu law because these practices did not really derive from Hinduism but from certain cultural practices and from the very vested interests of the patriarchal society. Furthermore, it can be strongly argued that the phenotypic practices such as the parda have Islamic and Western influences due to the Islamic invasion and the emergence of the Portuguese and the British. Ancient Indian women were almost never recorded to follow this tradition. And therefore, the patriarchal practices such as polygamy has been outlawed by India as well as reformed property rights of girls. Therefore, in India children regardless of whether a boy or a girl will receive equal treatment from the father. It can be said that not every non-Hindu girl has equal property rights in Bangladesh. This means, if a girl is a Muslim, she will not receive equal property rights. However, it is also important to note that a Muslim girl’s property entitlement is engrained in the Islamic Shariahprinciples and much higher compared to the religious minorities in Bangladesh. Not only that, a Muslim girl is entitled to property from her father as well as from her husband. Polygamy has been limited to having four wives where the well-being of the first wife is taken into account religiously and legally while proceeding with additional marriages. I do not intend to dwell on Shariah principles but I have rather used this as a comparative example in order to understand how backward and hostile the climate is for Bangladeshi Hindu girls.

Marriages in Bangladesh still take place where the prospective groom or bride has not provided complete consent. It is a complex area for prosecution because in urban societies, children are seldom forced to marry according to their parents’ choice. Instead, they are emotionally blackmailed to give consent. There are other issues associated with marriages in Bangladesh as well. One for instance, family members encouraging the prosecution against domestic violence. Girls are brought up in our country with the implied mentality that it is usual for men to have extra-marital affairs, be unfaithful and to hit girls. The author in the article spoke about marital rape which is prohibited in Bangladesh but is recurring. Divorce is not encouraged and infact, decisions to live independently and to think independently is highly demoralised. Furthermore, there is no formal procedure for divorce in Hindu law. Interestingly enough, individuals who engage in this kind of behaviour are actually educated and prominent members of the community. Independent girls or girls marrying out of religion or doing anything that are not supported by the community is heavily stigmatized. Polygamy is a common practice among Hindu men in Bangladesh and there are no legal implications for that. Even if Hindu law requires the husband to take care of the well-being of the wife, it is a route that is rarely taken, mostly because there is no way to prove whether care has been taken by the husband or not. It is not mandatory for Hindu marriages to be registered. When the Government tried to enforce the mandatory registration of Hindu marriages, Hiren Biswas, the president of theSamajSangskarParishad group said: “We don’t mind optional registration because Hindu couples sometimes need the marriage certificate when they travel, but we won’t accept mandatory registration, or divorce and inheritance rights to women because our scriptures and customs don’t allow them.” Therefore, the Hindu Marriage Registration Bill 2012 was opposed by the very own members of the Hindu community. However, even in this case, the decision-makers were male. Hindu women were not consulted and neither was there any survey that considered the actual changes that Hindu girls in the country desired to have implemented.

So, my answer to the Hindu girl from the article or any Hindu girl in Bangladesh for that matter is that, we do not need another Ram Mohan Roy or Ishwar Chandra to reform our position. We do not acknowledge or recognise the existence of individuals like Hiren Biswas. People like him, simply do not matter in the grandeur scheme of things. We need to carve our own path. Hindu girls need to lobby for their own rights and ensure that proper legislations are enforced in the country. If a girl has the right and the education to write to a newspaper and publish her story, she is strong enough to take a further step. While deciding on the fate of Hindu girls, the decision of any other is irrelevant. Instead, the girls should decide what should be done and what should not be. It is high time that steps are taken to reform existing Hindu law and protect the rights of countless girls belonging to religious minorities in Bangladesh.

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My 5 types of Best Friends: Are you the One?

As we grow old, certain things begin to change without us noticing. For instance, as a child, I remember I never wanted to get married. But I spent my entire twenties fascinating how my wedding would be like! So, human nature and human needs are so unpredictable that when we take a close look at life, we ponder do we really known ourselves?

My latest craze has been about having best friends. Who are ‘best friends’? And do I have any? Every girl has friends and so do I. I am personally not the type of person who makes thousands of friends just to say ‘hi’ and then the next morning I do not remember the name of my friend. I have always believed in investment. So, I have limited friends but they are my long-term investments. As a child, I cannot say that I chose to think this way but I think it was proper to think that your best friend is a role model. Now, let me explain what I mean by that! I do not mean that your best friend would be the next Prime Minister of the country or the next big thing happening in the society, but a person who has no flaws, who is excellent in academics and sports, who is very competitive and who protects you and who understands you completely and you never fight and you think face any difficulties communicating and who is always there for you and who is the prettiest girl on the block and who in short has all the good qualities that anyone can ever think of.

At that tender age what we miss is the fact that is it possible to gain what we or who we aspire? I do not know about others but I will speak for myself in this case. Somewhere in my mind I think I was developing this idea of a perfect best friend as a very young girl. Since I had quite a rough childhood in terms of friends and I am, as a matter of fact, an introvert, I did not have the best of experiences in making friends. I rarely met anyone with whom I was compatible with. It is perhaps because I was more mature than my age or I was just different and did not fit in. I do not know. In Vedic time, a princess called, Dhraupadi, who was herself quite strong as a character like me, aspired to have a husband who had all the qualities and who was perfect. Her expectations had been so strong that Lord Shiva failed to put all the qualities in one person, so she was granted 5 husbands, each of whom had different qualities and strengths. My life is analogous to Dhraupadi’s and I too, have 5 types of best friends in life. I will not name them for obvious reasons.

So, the first type of best friend is the Reformer. She is the diva in my life. We grew up as close friends and have been friends since childhood. She gives me the best advices, helped turn me into a proper woman and always shows me the right path. She knows her mind and is a go-getter. She is an achiever and makes less mistakes. She does not nag and always does the right thing or what she is supposed to do, like wish me on my birthdays, be there on special occasions and maintain every sort of social etiquettes possible. We do not talk on a regular basis but I can say I am inspired by her.

The second type of best friend that I have is the Maintainer. She has her own world of problems but despite a world full of issues, she always has time for me and always finds out if I am alright. Whenever I am sad, I complain to her and she is there for me. She listens to my complaints and encourages me through my hard times. She is there for me even if I am not there for her. She is very giving, caring and has great motherly instincts that she cannot help but inflict upon me. We have known each other for many years but I think it was our personal struggles that brought us together.

The third kind of best friend that I have is the Suicider. Now, this is the interesting and scary one. She is there for me and she is suicidal enough to sacrifice her own interest to protect mine and she does not even think about it. Her nature is impulsive in a way that I worry about her. In our relationship, I like to believe that I am the responsible one. She will call me at 3 a.m. and expect me to talk to her and we do talk at odd times. She desire and aspiration for friendship is unconditional and she gives it all as a friend. Sometimes, she gives a bit too much in a scary, suicidal way!

The fourth kind is, what I like to believe, the worst kind, the Lover. This best friend is a friend who is not only a friend to me but much more. Many people believe that boys cannot be best friends. However, I do believe that they can with the right set of mind. This friend is loving, caring and to a level selfish of his own interest because even if I believe that boys can be best friends and stay out of love, it does not mean that the boy can. So, we took out friend to the next level.

The last and the best kind of best friend is the last type. I call this best friend the Raiser. This last type of best friend raises you, nurtures you, shows you the right path in life, yells at you, ages as you grow, believes in you unconditionally, thinks you are the best, punishes you for doing things wrong and you are scared of her, she motivates you and is always there for in any remotely possible way you can think of. And in return, you do nothing for her. Her love is so unconditional that you take her for granted. But then, when you reach a certain age, you begin to form a naïve friendship and you realise there much more to this relationship than what you have always seen. So, with the latest enrichment, you continue life and you maintain the relationship. Then one day, you realise something else, she has grown old keeping intact her childlike heart. At that stage you begin to worry because the best friend who known for so many years start to change into this innocent little child who craves for your attention. Now roles have reversed and you are the raiser. Now, it’s your turn to do everything for her that she did for you. At some corner of your heart, you start to fear the loss of your friendship and the bond that you once shared. As you grow your attachments with your best friend as she grows old, you see the decaying of your friendship and time just in front of your eyes!

I do not know if I have been able to give back anything to my best friends. But, I can say for sure that I cherish them in my life through thick and thin and I do not equate their lives with the simple equations of mathematics. Their friendship and their efforts goes way beyond my understanding and what I can express in words.

P.S. If you have realised you are the one, then you know, you are the one!!!

 a

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2012 and much more!!!

I have grew up with a very old proverb taught by my mother, all is well that ends well. So in light of this scary yet constructive proverb, my end has not been well which is indicative that all is not well. Or is it?

I ended 2011 with a baggage of pain, emotional issues, conflicts, frustration, fatigue and sleep. Needless to say this is now how I usually end my years. But what about the last 27 years that I spent well? Those years were perfectly planned, disciplined served in a platter with the cherry on top: my futile resolutions that hardly were maintained.

So after careful consideration, I decided to end 2011 a bit differently. And I will  justify my dull end. I think it’s good that I am at least making my first article which may seem that I am making progress. Now that’s a tricky term.

I have no fear to say that I spent the last 27 years of my life trying to socially construct my reality and bound by my customs and rituals that I inherited from the region I am from. I confess that enjoy rituals and they give me a sense of belonging. It is almost like routine with meditative powers except anything violent. But as much as these rituals helped me grow as a person, they have also subdued me as a person. I have become very inhibited of which I am shamed of. So when 2011 passed like a utter failure, I said to myself: That’s life!

What is life? I wish I had an accurate answer to that or an Oxford Dictionary with a meaning adhered with it. But there is not! So we blindly take a journey while looking at others and reading about others and putting ourselves in this relative torture thinking any less compared to someone else is not making it or not living life… If Baba was reading this, he would be furious to know that I even think of revolting the intellectual mainstream culture.

Can we deny that as much as our hunger needs food, our mind is no different? These unknown and uncanny ways of life can lead us to an abyss of darkness for some of us? Or to a path of enlightenment or to any investigation of discovery… Can they be made when individuals are so programmed and inhibited like me? I don’t think so. So, I decided to let go. I will let go of those precious that I take pleasure in treasuring and whatever I lost in the past, hoping that some will come back to me in the process of my self discovery.

Right now when I am typing this, I have opened several pages of Rawls’ ideas which I hope will take me somewhere… and this taking me somewhere would not have been that difficult if I could just break free from this social prison and do whatever I want to do and believe whatever I want to believe. Can I fearfully add, without hurting anyone?

Its a Friday night and looking back I am wondering where have 27 years gone? It seems as if they all passed in the blink of an eye and suddenly I am put into the category of the aging population. I was never scared to age but who knew aging could be so painful and meaningless and unproductive. I have spent almost half of my life and almost 3 degrees later, what have I achieved? Or more importantly, what have I given to this world?

So I decided to start 2012 with a bang! Yes, I have let everything go. No discipline, no routine, no resolutions… its a bang for me. My friends would say… very unlike me. I will live life for living, study for my intellectual hunger and do whatever I want to do and believe in doing. Because I feel shamed of being born with privilege and not putting it in for the right use. I believe in a proverb…

With great privilege comes great responsibility!!!

I hope that this responsibility that I have decided to bestow upon myself won’t be as burdensome as living a life as futile as I have lived so far… there will be no rituals or inhibitions but rather a free mind with curiosity…

I will start from year 1 again and relive curiosity till my breath leaves this world…

 

🙂 I will keep posting my visions in my latter posts…

who knows something useful might come out of it!

 

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When You Are Old…

When You Are Old

By William Butler Yeats

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

 

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

 

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.
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Invincible Death

We are so bound by customs and rituals. Sometimes, I feel that this tradition of following our customs have in many ways enslaved us. At times in the name of culture, at times in the name of religion and at times in the name of life! Some scholars have suggested that religion was created to give a meaning to our existence, to give a meaning to our lives. I now ponder to what extent it has engulfed our views that we have stopped thinking outside the box. Are we really capable of looking at reality objectively anymore? I will not for many reasons, get into the discussion of existence of God. But religion… I will. I still stand by the belief that religion is a superficial ritual and will always be. If it could at any point in history benefit us, that time has elapsed and we have grown out of it. Perhaps to Swami Vivekanand or Aurobindo Ghosh, religion had a different purpose but not to the post-modern, rock-listening junkies like us whose lives are rather dominated by facebook and Starbucks coffee.

We like to believe we are stronger. We like to believe we radiate intelligence when we say we are atheists but the truth is, we don’t know anything. And this ‘not knowing’ has made us into very weird beings… something like David from Spielberg’s AI. And no matter how hard we try to know the absolute truth and back our pursuit with all religions and scientific theories, the absolute truth is unknowable. Our journey has started in one point with assumptions and it will end in one point with assumptions and we won’t know the reality behind it. So, this must be a crisis.

In this critical situation, we have managed to develop thousands of rituals and none that lets me prepare for death! I am literally scared to die and come out of this illusion. I am a believer! I believe in love and I have pet my feelings for way too long to give up now. I have more or less practised every ritual and in times of crisis, I don’t have one that I need. I need to prepare to die and I don’t know how to do it gracefully. Movies have been made, songs have been written, religious lectures have been given but nothing… Nothing gives solace to my heart. Because I am scared. I am torn apart between the world of illusion that I lived for so long and the possibility that there can be a different truth to life. And its funny too because I saw this firm that provides consultation about death and how the funueral ceremony would be, what flowers to use, budgetting so on and so forth. But where is the consultation that I will be no more and I need to take something with me or at least, I need a way to find a refuge!

I know its just not me who’s in this crisis. I have believers and atheists in my group too. We are all in the same boat with the same clock ticking. We are all fearful… of being not around of invincible death.

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    • Kousik Zaman

      if we cant explain anything by science, we try to explain it by religions, thats not right.. science is truth, religions r beliefs.. wait until science steps further to explain it.. one day everything will b explainable.. when u r dead noth…See More
      October 22, 2009 at 7:18pm · Like
    • Lemona Chanda

      good point… but do u know that everything science proposes are assumptions… theories are assumptions on top of assumptions… I didnt want to sound like an atheist or a believer coz in a strict sense, i am none… i am more agnostic but…See More
      October 22, 2009 at 7:26pm · Like
    • Aparna Bhan everyone’s got their set of beliefs to entertain their life’s perspectives! Doesn’t matter who’s playing it —science or religion. That’s why I never forget to dream with my eyes open, because when I die, it would truly be —“rest in peace”

      At the end of the day, I ask myself, what’s there to be afraid of?

      October 22, 2009 at 8:17pm · Like
    • Kousik Zamanassumptions must b done in logical way.. belief lives in heart.. if u r happy with that thats fine.. if u use that to make others happy.. thats not peace, thats the starting of pain.. coz everyone is different

      October 23, 2009 at 7:09pm · Like
    • Kousik Zamani will cut ur head and put it in a jar :p

      October 23, 2009 at 7:09pm · Like
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Home

I want to make a Home with you:
A Home that speaks of us as one
A Home that buries in its bricks the secrets of our oneness,
the struggles of our past, the sighs of our future, the warmth of our present;
I want to make a Home with you:
Where I have anchored my heart and soul
Where lies the nursery of my child, the first cry, the first laugh, the first spoken word…
I want to make a home with you:
I will shine my crystals regularly and still find joy in it
The vermillion will sit there awaiting you to colour me
My chinas will smile, early morning sun will shine and a stack of laundry to be done
I want to make a Home with you:
storing our journey together.. the bitterness of being so close, the feeling of each other’s intense absence
A home where everything is ordinary, humanly, yet so full of life
This abode… this Home of ours will bound us together forever and beyond!

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