Not too long ago, Anin called me up to tell me he was in the process of applying to grad schools in America for software engineering.
He had been working at a software firm in Dhaka as an engineer, and felt that maybe it was time to take the next step and look to newer horizons.
“They’re asking me to explain my interest in the program. I need your help.”
“I’m not your guy,” I said wearily. “I don’t know anything about computers.”
“Well, it’s for the application essay,” he said. “They want it to be 500 words but I started writing and it turned into 2,000 words and I’m still not finished, and I don’t know what to do.”
“Why would you write 2,000 words when the application asks for 500?”
“I just don’t know how to answer the question in that limit …”
“OK, fine, I’m your guy,” I sighed. “Send it over and we will see if we can edit the thing down for you.”
I could hear him grinning on the other end of the line.
“I have a good feeling about this,” he said.
When I opened up the email attachment, I saw why he had overshot the word limit so badly. Instead of directly addressing the question “why are you interested in this program?” he had gone back to his childhood, and started explaining every little interest, and every life experience that had brought him to this juncture.
I picked up my phone and messaged him: “Dude, they asked a simple question, they didn’t ask for your whole autobiography.” He sent back an upside-down smiley.
I cracked my knuckles and got to work, spending the next few hours cutting, rephrasing, and re-writing his application essay until I got it down to just under the word limit.
“Only for you, Anin,” I muttered as I clicked send. He called me back, thanked me profusely, and told me again that he had a good feeling about this.
He had big hopes and plans for the future.
* * *
Thinking back on Anin’s brief but utterly wondrous and unique life, I realise that if ever there was a person who needed to tell his whole life story to explain his present, it was Anin.
Born with an extremely rare case of hyperlepidemia, he was, from earliest childhood, restricted from the normal fat-filled diets the rest of us take for granted.
He was fully aware of the price of his occasional indulgences -- at weddings or while on holiday -- but in spite of a few instances of recklessness, and his flair for fatalistic philosophy, I don’t for a second believe Anin had a death wish.
Anin’s legacy, I hope, will be one of life, because not even his condition held him back from drinking life to the last drop
He wanted to live -- for his wife Titash and his son Mukto. For his sister, his brother, his nieces, his nephew, and his innumerable cousins and friends, whose lives he lit up every single day.
He gave it his all, and fought till the end, but his vital organs just couldn’t take it any longer. On December 29, 2017, his heart finally stopped, ending his pain.
But for the rest of us, those of us who grew up with him, knew each other as children, as teens, and finally as adults, the pain has only begun.
Maruf Muqtadir, known as Anin to his family -- husband, father, software engineer, photographer, traveller, fish and reptile connoisseur, nature lover, patriot, activist -- gone forever at age 36.
* * *
Anin’s legacy, I hope, will be one of life, because not even his condition held him back from drinking life to the last drop.
He travelled as much as he could, became a photographer of considerable skill, and made friends in every corner of the country.
I cannot recall Anin ever complaining about anything -- he took life as it came, and never wanted anyone to feel sorry for him.
And because of his warmth towards everyone, and his completely judgment-free attitude, whenever someone wanted to throw a family invite, Anin would always be the one to get the first call.
He loved everyone without condition, and was loved in return.
I will never see Anin again, and that hurts so much. But I believe the best way to honour his memory is to take whatever cards life has dealt us, and to live fully, without regret.
Abak Hussain is Editor, Editorial and Op-Ed, Dhaka Tribune.