Bangladesh Attack: Remembering Abinta Kabir And Faraaz Hossain

Bangladesh Attack: Remembering Abinta Kabir And Faraaz Hossain

We should all aim to live our lives the way they lived theirs.
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On July 1, the Oxford, and entire Emory community lost two of it’s brightest stars due to a terrorist attack in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The two students, Abinta Kabir and Faraaz Hossain, were more than just pictures on the six o’clock news, or names in a paper. They were truly integral parts of what the Oxford community is. I’ve come to know them as friends, starting with my and their own involvement in Student Activities Committee (SAC), an event planning Committee at Oxford College. I aim to have them remembered for the wonderful people they were.

When Faraaz walked into a room, you know exactly who he'd be. His entire aura just screamed success. He worked hard, took pride in his appearance, and nearly half of SAC, and probably the school, had some sort of crush on him. And how could you not? He was truly a good person, inside and out. He was prime example of what it meant to a good person, student, and friend.

One of Faraaz’s most prominent traits was how unbelievably humble he was. He’d orchestrated events down to the most obscure details, and then later genuinely thanked the entirety of SAC, stating that he "couldn’t have pulled it off without us" -- despite the fact his hard work was most of the reason the event was such a success. He valued us, and refused to see himself as better than others. He saw everyone as equals, everyone as individuals with something to give to not only SAC, but the world. His dedication to the things he was involved in was obvious through the way his eyebrows raised in response to his concern over making sure an event he planned would go according to plan -- and it always did, thanks to his attention to detail, and genuine care for the work he put out for the world to see.

Faraaz was also an undeniable great friend. To everyone in his Programming Committee, he’d become a source of calmness, almost similar to the way a big brother would calm down his hyper siblings. He became more than just their committee head, but someone to look up to, someone they could come to for advice. As serious as he could be in the work-centered environment Oxford cultivates, he wasn’t afraid to let go once and while and have fun with his friends. Notably, I specifically remember a time when he allowed one of his close friends to climb on his back while he stuck his tongue out, to pose for a promotional picture for one of SAC’s event. After the photo, he’d laughed and joked around with everyone there. His energy was contagious. It was hard not to smile when Faraaz's smile changed the energy of the room so much.

Abinta was a kind person. Personally, I’d come to know her very well over the last year. She was always calm while I was an anxiety-ridden hot mess. With us both living in the same hall, I’d go to visit her and her roommate often -- also a member of SAC -- to complain, steal snacks from them, or just talk about how excited we were for the next SAC event.

Abinta was arguably just as hard working as Faraaz. Constantly, Abinta could be seen studying in our dorm’s study lounge, wearing her favorite pair of plaid pajama pants and eating mac n’cheese, since she was ‘too lazy’ to go to our dining hall. But Abinta, of course, was anything but lazy. She pushed through Economics, Statistics, and all the other horrible boring classes Pre-Business students are required to take with ease. She had taken on the position of Programming Chair for SAC, a position Faraaz had held before her.

In the first event she was responsible for, Abinta was on crutches, her leg injured. Despite this, Abinta still carried supplies for the event from a car and into the place the event was taking place. This, of course, resulted in the entirety of SAC yelling at her to sit down so we could take care of it ourselves, and she could rest her leg. Still, Abinta would get up when no one was looking to adjust the set-up for the event. That’s just who she was -- she was always willing to give a hundred percent to anything she did, despite how her day or life might be going at that current moment.

Abinta, like Faraaz, was extremely supportive of everyone she meet. Personally, when I would doubt what direction my future would lead me in, Abinta would take upon herself to be my personal cheerleader. Often, she would say to me, “I see the future for you, Raquel. You have a future in marketing, there’s no doubt.” It touched me every time she said it -- to know someone believed in me so much was heartwarming.

This wasn’t just something she did for me, but something she did for everyone, in form or another. Her encouragement for others to follow the talents they possessed extended beyond her own circle of friends. She was sure to encourage everyone she met, whether it meant providing them assurance they’d pass their calculus test, or providing the motivation for someone to not give up on their dream career. With her work ethic and positive energy, you knew she was someone who would achieve her goals.

Abinta and Faraaz were good people. They were kind people. They were loyal people. They were hard workers. It’s important to not allow what happened them to stop us from living our lives to our fullest. This tragedy, especially to those who knew them, will shake us as a community. Do not let it break us. Instead, aim to emulate, as well as you can, the best qualities of the two of them. Have the humility of Faraaz. Have the positivity of Abinta. Have the kindness and genuineness they both possessed.

It's come out, recently, that Faraaz was allowed to leave the cafe, but stayed with his two friends. Strength is what he possessed, and it's his strength we must draw upon to live in order to make the world better than we found it. Both Abinta and Faraaz were full of love and joy -- it’s only fitting that we honor their memory with being as loving and joyful as we can in our own lives. It's easy to let hate and cruelty consume us. It's a harder route to leave the world a better place than we found it.

To my community, to my friends, and to my family: I urge you to take the harder route. Live your life with the notion you can make the world better with your own actions, your own perspectives. Despite what you believe, or may not believe, the lessons of love, friendship, and kindness are something to value. Remember Faraaz and Abinta for the people they were, and the values they had dear. The Oxford, Emory, and SAC family are strong. Let us continue to be strong, even in the wake of injustice and tragedy.

Cover Image Credit: Personal

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I'm The Girl Without A 'Friend Group'

And here's why I'm OK with it

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Little things remind me all the time.

For example, I'll be sitting in the lounge with the people on my floor, just talking about how everyone's days went. Someone will turn to someone else and ask something along the lines of, "When are we going to so-and-so's place tonight?" Sometimes it'll even be, "Are you ready to go to so-and-so's place now? Okay, we'll see you later, Taylor!"

It's little things like that, little things that remind me I don't have a "friend group." And it's been like that forever. I don't have the same people to keep me company 24 hours of the day, the same people to do absolutely everything with, and the same people to cling to like glue. I don't have a whole cast of characters to entertain me and care for me and support me. Sometimes, especially when it feels obvious to me, not having a "friend group" makes me feel like a waste of space. If I don't have more friends than I can count, what's the point in trying to make friends at all?

I can tell you that there is a point. As a matter of fact, just because I don't have a close-knit clique doesn't mean I don't have any friends. The friends I have come from all different walks of life, some are from my town back home and some are from across the country. I've known some of my friends for years, and others I've only known for a few months. It doesn't really matter where they come from, though. What matters is that the friends I have all entertain me, care for me, and support me. Just because I'm not in that "friend group" with all of them together doesn't mean that we can't be friends to each other.

Still, I hate avoiding sticking myself in a box, and I'm not afraid to seek out friendships. I've noticed that a lot of the people I see who consider themselves to be in a "friend group" don't really venture outside the pack very often. I've never had a pack to venture outside of, so I don't mind reaching out to new people whenever.

I'm not going to lie, when I hear people talking about all the fun they're going to have with their "friend group" over the weekend, part of me wishes I could be included in something like that. I do sometimes want to have the personality type that allows me to mesh perfectly into a clique. I couldn't tell you what it is about me, but there is some part of me that just happens to function better one-on-one with people.

I hated it all my life up until very recently, and that's because I've finally learned that not having a "friend group" is never going to be the same as not having friends.

SEE ALSO: To The Girls Who Float Between Friend Groups

Cover Image Credit: wordpress.com

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Abortion Bans Are Only A Small Part Of The Republican War On Women

These bans expose the Republican Party for what it truly is.

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This week, several states passed laws that ban abortion after six to eight weeks of pregnancy, before most women even know that they're pregnant. The most egregious of these is Alabama — the state has banned abortion except for in cases of danger to the mother. Exceptions in the cases of rape and incest were actively voted against by the state legislature. Under the new law, any doctor who is caught giving an abortion would be sentenced to 99 years in prison, and the woman would be charged with murder.

Apart from the fact that this explicitly violates the decision of Roe v. Wade (which is the point), this is only a small part of the slow but steady degradation of women's rights by Republicans in the United States. To anyone who believes that this is simply about people being "pro-life" or "saving the children," then tell them to look at what happens after the fetus is carried to term.

Republicans oppose forcing fathers to be involved in the lives of their children that were forcibly carried to term, desires to cut food stamps and make it more difficult to feed said child, cut funding for affordable housing to make it more difficult for them to find homes, cut spending to public education so these children can't move up the social ladder, and refuse to offer the woman or her child health insurance to keep them both healthy. What about efforts to prevent pregnancy? Republicans also oppose funding birth control and contraception, as well as opposing comprehensive sexual education. To them, the only feasible solution is to simply keep your legs shut. They oppose all of these things because it is, in their eyes, a violation of individual rights to force people to do something. The bill also makes women who get abortions felons, and felons can't vote. I'll let you finish putting those two together.

If you view it from this framework, it would seem like Republicans are being extremely hypocritical by violating the personal freedoms of pregnant women, but if you look at it from the view of restricting social mobility for women, then it makes perfect sense. The Republican dogma of "individual rights" and "personal responsibility" is a socially acceptable facade that they use to cover up their true intentions of protecting the status quo and protect those in power. About any Republican policy, ask yourself: does this disperse power or consolidate it? Whether it be education, healthcare, the environment, or the economy, Republicans love to keep power away from the average citizen and give it to the small number of people that they deem "deserving" of it because of their race, gender, wealth, or power. This is the case with abortion as well; Power is being taken from women, and being given back to men in a reversal of the Feminist Movement of the 1970s.

Republicans don't believe in systemic issues. They believe that everyone has the same opportunity to succeed regardless of what point they started. This is why they love capitalism so much. It acts as some sort of great filter in which only those who deserve power can make it to the top. It's also why they hate social policies; they think that helping people who can't help themselves changes the hierarchy in a negative way by giving people who don't "deserve" power, power. Of course, we know that just because you have money and power doesn't mean you earned it fair and square, and even if Republicans believe it, it wouldn't change anything because it wouldn't change how they want to distribute power.

In short, Republican policies, including abortion, leave the average American with less money, less protection, less education, worse health, less opportunity, fewer rights, and less freedom. This is NOT a side effect. This is the point. Regardless of what Republicans will tell you about "inalienable rights" and how everyone is equal, in reality, they believe that some people and groups are more deserving of rights than others, and the group that deserves rights the most are the ones "that will do the best with them." To Republicans, this group consists of the wealthy, the powerful, and the white — the mega-rich, the CEOs of large companies, gun owners and Christians.

So, who do Republicans think deserve power and give it to? People who look and think like them. This, however, begs the question: Who do they want to take it from?

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