A Special Bond

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Exploring the mysterious,
Labyrinthine passageways
Of a restless, seeking mind,
Zoom-lensed snapshots
Reveal a generous heart;
A soul which is kind;
Compassionate, concerned;
The beauty of a son
Is more fully learned.
Inevitably a wish ensues
To relive those swift days
In America and faraway lands,
Which stitched strong threads,
Over a half-century span,
Binding him tightly
To a closely-knit clan.
Wasn't it only yesterday
Those family hours ebbed;
Unfolded, enfolded
Us in a powerful web?
A flexible weave
Of such design
It cannot break
Or succumb to foibles;
A give and take;
That even death cannot destroy
When encircling faith
Rings in victory.

Transcending thoughts flee to the man
And return to the boy.
Nostalgia, even a smidgen
Of sadness tinges the light rays
And shadows of those days.
But insight anew
Trips silently into view:
Why should we pine?
A lesson is learned
As one grows older;
The past may be silver
But the present is golden.
Still the stubborn past
Has a split personality;
It built to the present
But still summons gently,
Like summer flowers
On the furrowed brow
Of a sun-swept meadow;
So real, you want
To inhale deeply
And scoop up an armful.
For eternal safekeeping.

Surveying the landscape
For petals of yesteryear,
Recalls a celebratory meal,
Maybe not much of a deal
You might agree;
But ours was a happy group,
Of partakers three.
And strangely, a kitchen faucet,
Repaired under protest:
"You don't have to do it."
"I know, but we should;
"I can do it, you need one that's new."
And so he could;
And the leak was plugged.
And the plumbing specialist
Was paid off in hugs.

And door locks,
Manipulated daily
Are a constant reminder;
Mounted by sure hands
To obviate any insecurity
After an exchange
For more compact living spaces.
A glance across a room
Meets an electronic eye;
A gigantic freebie
To relay 27-inch news stories,
Tournaments and documentaries,
To inform, delight and entertain
An appreciative couple,
Whiling away
Evenings of wind and rain.

A scarce few feet away
A broad desk lays,
Bucked up against
An upstairs wall
Through an updated team perk.
Once the father did the work
But the years switched hands;
So the elder bought
The complicated plan,
Wood and bolts and glue;
And the sturdy desk grew,
Directed and produced
As the assembler deduced.
Voila: A grainy platform
Complete with drawers
And darkened, spacious bins,
Despite a treacherous back;
Risking pain for kin.
Now in reds and greens
And blues is seen
An advanced and new,
Arresting screen,
Seated and glowing
In various hues.
An ivory tower
Imposes nearby,
Humming its dull,
Monotonous tune.
Those in the loop
Are aware of the scoop;
For it reminds by its buzzin'
Of an older cousin,
Which lifted a veil
On the Web and e-mail;
Novices took to cyberspace
At a macro-mini pace;
Now snappily perform feats:
Miles-away folks are reached
By printing chatter
With the pitter-patter
Of a few finger-flicks
And rapid-fire clicks.
His patience never failed,
In weekend visits and voicemail
And other means to break us in;
He elevated our horizons;
Another magnanimous token
Of his care and deep affection.

Beyond the contemporary past,
Lie incidents of family-craft;
Birthday bashes, candle flames;
Christmas revelations
And exciting games;
Little League sports;
Impressive school reports;
A fracture in soccer
That required a doctor;
Boy Scout forays
And July Fourth parades;
Meals and banter;
Fun-in-the sun laughter
In backyards and parks
Stretching from New York
To West Virginia;
From the Outer Banks
To distant India.
With a gifted, inquisitive mind
And character of high order
He absorbed science and math
For research, but chose a better path;
Oppressive moods
Were met with courage;
And time dispelled the pall;
The pleasant voice,
Back on the line,
Brought relief to all.
At times, faith was in the docket,
To accept or not;
Led to intense reflection
And belief untied the knot.

Singing talent came early,
And stays late;
As proof we hear
"This Old Man" on '50's tape.
Performances in elementary years,
A madrigal group, a high school band.
Concerts for his country
In remote East Pakistan,
A foreign service type clipped
Local press accounts
Providing mirth and lift;
The talent was not in doubt;
But in the end,
The cultural barons were baffled
By strange rock 'n roll trends.

His learning abroad
Ended, he spoke crisply
To the crowd;
We professed humility
At the eloquence he showed,
While bursting deep inside.
I savored a remark
Which strongly
Spiked my pride;
A skeptical American
Pressed me to falsely confess
That I personally had written
The graduation address.

Then a gloomy day defied
A sunny Dacca sky;
Departure for a western campus
Dashed the spirit
Of the family left behind.
A sense of loss pervaded
The vacuum for a while;
We missed his presence,
His music and his smile;
We consciously sought no pity
Over the crushing loss;
A joyous ship-side reunion
In New York City
Eventually covered the cost.

During a sweltering
Southern gathering
Scheduled for near noon.
We chafed because of speeches
That tended to drone on;
Virginia Tech had the crowd seated,
Where athletes usually played;
Some of the jocks were featured,
Boasting adequate grades;
They mingled with the flow
Of blackrobes in the blazing rays,
Stirring in scores of rows;
Grasping paper scrolls
Done up with bright ribbon bands;
While spectators perspired
And vigorously waved their fans.
Momentarily decorous,
The graduates reached out
And shook professorial hands;
Then came a mighty shout,
Thunderous in the grandstands,
Protocol took a dive;
The student hordes came alive,
Hurling a dark shower
Of tasseled mortarboards.
Amid the tumult and crescendo,
Our grinning numero uno son
Had our full attention;
This was a celebration
We had come from afar to see,
For of three family generations,
This was the first degree.

We are fully aware
Of his accomplishments so far;
His talents and progress
Despite the trials and tears
That have lurked and flayed so hard;
For even a gifted man
Who does his best
Can be dealt some losing cards.
But he's absorbed the blows
And continued to grow,
In a pattern of truth and honor;
Moral fiber and capacity.
Yes, his career is successful:
No surprise for he's bright,
But it's other achievements that count;
His loving concern for those without;
The unfortunate sick; minorities;
That's what he's all about.
Those fortunate to touch his life
Acquire benefits profound;
He's stood his ground
With nobility, grace and cheer,
That warms us and abounds