A colorful life,
a brilliant spiral downward.
They fall like kings.
Like leaves off a tree.
We sat side by side
looking straight ahead,
my arm around my father's shoulders,
my other hand in my mother's.
I thought, this is my family,
silent and distant,
wound tightly together by blood and time.
My grandfather was laid to rest across the sea.
The last patriarch.
The village elder.
He sat down and never stood up,
mid-prayer, late eighties.
Lived through three nations on the same land,
died a Bangladeshi man.
He would ask me to speak to him in English,
but I never knew what to say.
I didn't much know what to say in my broken Bangla either.
Language, a generation, an ocean between us.
I wanted to say I love you, Dada
but I knew the words would echo strangely,
Family love is felt, seldom spoken.
For my grandfather,
it was in the way he let me sit by him
as I braided his long beard.