| Rubana Huq and Palki Ahmed on Resilience |

We invited Rubana Huq and Palki Ahmad to our Boithok in July to share their stories through which they built and demonstrated resilience in the face of hardship and adversity.

Palki Ahmed, a full time development professional at UNDP and a musician, shared how she was introduced to music through her family and their affinity for Rabindra sangeet. She would borrow her neighbor’s guitar to play it secretly at night. Her efforts were not as clandestine as she imagined, as one day on the way back from school, her father surprised her by taking her to the music store to buy her first guitar. She did not perform in front of an audience until she impulsively signed up for a cultural performance at work. Despite her misgivings and her attempts to back out of that first performance from cold feet, she realized the joy of being able to connect with her audience through music. She ‘felt like a captain of a ship and she could take everyone on a beautiful journey.’

From that first guitar and her first performance, her guitar has become ‘her best friend who has never failed her’. When she faced upheavals in her personal life, and could not always confide in others, singing became a way to channel the grief. At those low points of her life, she started singing and felt like the music listened to her, understood her and strengthened her. She ended her session with a valuable advice, “You have a song inside your soul that needs to be sung. Try to unleash the creative side and that is when you can feel stronger”.

As Palki sang, the famous Rabindra sangeet, “Sokhi Bhalobasa Kare Koy”, we took refuge in her music and felt inspired to express the ease and hardship of rainy days.

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Rubana Huq joined us for the second session; she is a mentor to Palki, a well wisher for Toru, the managing director of Mohammadi Group, an award winning poet, a mother of three and a PhD student.

She began with recollections of the high expectations set by her parents from an early age. She juggled studying in Dhaka University as a wife and mother and as a correspondent for “Jodi Kichu Mone Na Koren’. Her coverage of the student riots of the 80s against Ershad led her to controversy. As a result of that experience, she had to study from home to graduate top of the class. She wanted to join the foreign services, but her then-husband discouraged any role that would require travel. She sped through promotions at her next role at American Express and the difference in professional achievements created discord in her married life. In one of her many instances of courage, she left that situation behind to seek better futures. She soon found her best friend in her husband, Mr. Anisul Huq.

Rubana Huq chose to be vulnerable with us and talk about the grief of losing her young son and then her husband. She reflected on her own choice to return to work shortly after the loss and the different ways she coped with losing her best friend. “Every tragedy gives your life a different meaning. Turn grief into a learning opportunity”.

She humbly expressed how she continues to learn from the younger generation; she deems their characteristic restlessness and impatience as strengths which will be the impetus for good work for the future.

She remains confident that love and care make us resilient. She challenged the young and curious ones at the boithak to “be like Sisyphus and the Phoenix” and face adversity to try again and again.

We wish Palki the best of luck in pursuing her master’s at the National University of Singapore.

We thank Rubana Huq for being a source of inspiration.

Thank you for growing with us.

(All images are under copyright of Toru Institute of Inclusive Innovation.)

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