I came back to Dhaka four years ago (mainly because I hated writing cover letters) but also because I wanted to do journalism from home, for the people I belong to, from the place I belong to. Dhaka was a different place then. Dhaka was rage on the streets and candle light vigils at Shahbagh, Dhaka was celebrating the dhaak-dhols of puja in the golis, Dhaka was loud and bold.
Dhaka wasn't fear.
And then things began changing. A slow fear began seeping into our system. We didn't even realize how big it had gotten until one morning, exactly a month ago, we woke up to see the monsters sleeping among us.
Leaving Dhaka is nothing new for me. I've done it before and I'll probably do it again. But the last time I left for a new journey, I was a mere teenager, too preoccupied with my dream school to be bothered about the city I was leaving behind. Dhaka then was a mere place, not home.
But then I moved back. I relearned the city. The people. The candle-lit corners of kaacha bajars, the newfound spirit of activism, the awkward growth of its skyline trying to be....something. Anything.
And there's no place else I'll ever call home. Not with the same kind of love at least. Despite everything that happened the past month (or few years), I've seen the people be resilient, I've seen foreigners say fuck-it and take walks on the streets, I've seen the writers continue to wage their wars with their pens. I've seen Dhaka survive.
And that, Dhaka, is the hope I leave you with. That no matter the war, no matter the wreckage, you continue to survive. Everyday.