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The Note by the Door

About a year ago Akram wrote something on a sticky note pad and stuck it by the door, the last thing he looked at before he went out. He was working at a clinic at the time and left every morning.

It was written in Bangla so I had no idea what it said. The way Akram looked at it silently before he left I suspected it might be a prayer, something from the Quran he’d translated or perhaps a few lines by Rabindranath Tagore.

It seemed a reverent moment for him that I didn’t want to disturb by asking what it meant. Akram like me is what you’d call agnostic, but aren’t there moments where words give helpful meaning to existence, a calm centering when needed?

Years ago when I spent a lot of time in the sauna and steam room after exercise at the gym, I’d get myself into the lotus and say the Lord’s Prayer without the flourish at the end that Jesus never said about the power and the glory, and then I’d continue with the Buddhist mantra: I take refuge in the Buddha. I take refuge in the dharma. I take refuge in the sangha.

I have fundamental atheist friends who’d crack the whip and tell me how silly and useless this is, but I suspect in the not so hypothetical future if by chance I’m about to be shot by a mad man or a right wing firing squad, I might say the Lord’s and Buddha’s prayers not meant for some eternal heaven, but a calming moment, a centering calm. Of course I might start to recite the beginning of Keats’ Endymion as well. There are options.

The only thing that bothered me about Akram’s piece of paper was that it wasn’t framed, not my aesthetic, but obviously when you’re in a relationship it’s compromise that makes the difficult two one.

After Dad’s death, we moved a few things from Pennsylvania to the apartment. This called for a great deal of cleaning and organizing. The moment seemed so opportune I asked Akram if we might put into a frame what he’d written and stuck by the door.

“It’s not important,” Akram said taking and crumbling it in his hands, meant not for a picture frame, but the trash.

“What did it say?” I asked kind of aghast.

“Don’t forget your glasses. Don’t forget your keys. Don’t forget your wallet.” The mystery was solved at last.

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One Comment

  1. Cherie Menzel
    Posted 19 Jul ’17 at 12:10 am | Permalink

    Love this!

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