The sun shone bright in Dhaka on this Friday afternoon. It was a special day to celebrate friendship that flew from India, to Bangladesh and reached United States. It’s been six months since Neha, Arfaaz and Chrissy crossed the seas and oceans to study at Boston University in United States where they met each other in class for the first time and in no time, bonded over theater and dramatics. The three became inseparable friends whose hearts longed and pinned for each other like burst of oxygen that make nerves alive.
Neha hailed from New Delhi and was a huge fan of water sports, cricket, football and drooled over Virat Kohli. Like Neha, Arfaaz loved his home country Bangladesh and would never miss an opportunity to watch his favorite team play cricket. Of the two, Chrissy who came from Switzerland remained objective to the game of cricket and was naturally coaxed into following the game. She was a witness to the friendly squabble but heated at times between Arfaaz and Neha who fought valiantly when India and Bangladesh played each other. The trio breathed pure friendship and longed for each other in a language that only pure hearts can understand. They were one soul intertwined in three bodies, rising above prejudices that humans have.
The adventures and silly jest played by Arfaaz in the middle of the night made the girls yell in the middle of night when Arfaaz would scare them to death, playing a wandering white ghost. In turn, he was blessed with words such as jerk by the girls. The trios were characters that came straight out of movies and were like the flawless lining in the white cloud. Neha, Arfaaz and Chrissy always roamed together at the university and cycling past the green field, wearing same colors like triplets, born from different mothers in uniquely vast lands.
Arfaaz who is a pious Muslim, never missed a day of fasting and as Ramzan was approaching, he packed his bag to join his parents in Bangladesh. The girls were missing their best buddy when they decided to surprise him during the holidays. They book their flight one frosty Thursday at JFK International airport to reach Bangladesh the next day. It was on Friday that they checked in a hotel and the chirpy girls decided to beat Arfaaz at his own game. They messaged him from a local mobile, pretending to be a local Bangla girl smitten by his charm for a date, or else, she will land in front of his house. Poor Arfaaz had no option but to meet the mysterious girl, wore his most expensive tuxedo on a plain white shirt and blue denim to reach the cafe.
He walked inside, scanning the crowd with his eyes and sat on the table where the waiter greeted him with a birthday cake. Arfaaz had a sudden inkling that someone has pulled a fast one on him when his phone beeped, ‘Happy birthday Jaanu.’ He was taken aback and messaged back, ‘How do you know it’s my birthday?’ The reply came in the flick of second, ‘I know everything about you.’ He almost lunged from his chair when two voices chortled behind his back and blasted in his ear, ‘Happy birthday, Jaanu.’ Arfaaz couldn’t believe his eyes when he saw Neha and Chrissy and jumped off his chair where the three hugged like long-lost siblings.
A stirring thud was heard outside the cafe, festooned with artistic scribble, paintings and decorations. Rifles were tossed and the floor buckled under the feet of Arfaaz, Neha and Chrissy who clung to each other, shaking in fear. A cohort of men wearing black fired at their whim and fancy, powder rattled the cafe that exhaled smokes and humans fell like ripe mangoes. Two of the gun men heckled the three friends in a corner as the girls bellowed at such inhuman massacre, their legs tripped on blood soaked bodies lying on the floor. The terrorist asked in a ferocious voice, “Your name?” He shook in fear, “A-r-f-a-a-z.” He urged him to go away while Neha and Chrissy, the infidels, were tightly clutched to each other.
Arfaaz meekly protested, “I am not moving away. We will die together. We belong to different wombs but are one soul. There can be no bigger power than love and humanity. Your hatred can never destroy us. It’s my Eid wish. Allah believes in peace.”
The gun men pushed the three friends and banged their forehead to the wall, “Then, die and languish in hell with the Kafirs.” Three gun shots hit the forehead of Arfaaz, Neha and Chrissy who collapsed on the floor, hands locked and tumbled together. They remained united in life and death.
Friendship is like the flowing river and smeared in blood, thicker than water. The three friends stood for the power of love and undying quest of passionate friendship that defeated fear and terror on the day. Some wars are won in death, something which is beyond the faces of hatred and terror.
Make love not war.
Post script: It’s a fiction and inspired by the lives of three friends Faraaz Ayaaz Hossain who choose death over life by staying with his friends, Tarishi Jain and Abinta Kabir who perished in the terrorist attack in Dhaka. There are some wars that can only be won in death. Power to such friendship and people like Faraaz honors such friendship with sacredness. The story is a tribute to lives lost by forces of hatred in every place in the world.