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'Abinta came to my life like a breath of fresh air'

  • Published at 10:29 pm July 1st, 2019
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Abinta Kabir with her mother Collected

I am privileged to be Abinta Kabir’s khalamoni (maternal aunt), and want to share with all of you my happy memories of my beloved niece

On the third anniversary of the Holey Artisan attack, let us take the time to reflect on how our nation changed forever. 

Did we learn that the most precious thing in our lives are our loved ones? Did we realize that one’s religion, creed, race, nationality, sex should not ignite hate? 

Did we realize that on planet Earth, we are all humans first, and as humans, we are born with some inalienable rights? 

Unfortunately, sensationalizing news has become a part of our tradition, and as such, various dramatized versions of the story surrounds the inconsolable events of that dreadful night. 

We, the public, are bombarded with diverse information via all forms of media, thus forcing us to be participants in this vicious circle of half-truths and reducing our empathy for the victims and their families. 

This year, I urge the public to take a conscious step to be on the side of the loved ones we lost on July 1, 2016. 

I am privileged to be Abinta Kabir’s khalamoni (maternal aunt), and want to share with all of you my happy memories of my beloved niece. 

Abinta came to my life like a breath of fresh air. After my younger brother, Rajan, passed away, we were a broken family. But when Abinta landed in New York, reached out her arms to me at the airport and called me khalamoni, all my anguish disappeared. 

For the first time in many years, I could see a flicker of joy in my mother’s eyes. Abinta was sent to us to be our saviour. She was the child who brought joy with her, and her smile was contagious. 

She created her own language—words she would use to describe her feelings. To this day, when I close my eyes, I can hear her say “khalamoni billak” (meaning khalamoni, that is dirty so stay away). 

Abinta knew how to give and receive love, which sounds simple enough, but as we all know this effortless practice is an art lost to many of us. She was not a complicated child, because her mother taught her to take everything with a grain of salt.

Ruba, Abinta’s mother, never really treated her as a child. At the age of four, Abinta had responsibilities and was taught to be compromising, understanding and most importantly, to have empathy for others.

While Ruba is the daughter that my mother needed, Abinta was the granddaughter that made my mother return to us from her bereavement. 

Words cannot describe the devastation our family endured on July 1, 2016. Abinta Foundation is the phoenix that rose from the ashes of that haunting event. Abinta’s sprit left behind a legacy of kindness for the less fortunate. 

When I look into the eyes of the girls studying at the Abinta Kabir Foundation school, I see hope. In them, I realize Abinta’s love, her conviction for a better world, her loyalty to her country, her devotion to her family, and above all, Abinta’s beautiful smile which lit up the universe. 

I would like to extend our love and affection to each and everyone who lost someone that day, and I pray to God that no one else ever experiences such loss. May we value human life above all.