These days our national discourse — the facebook broadcasts, the print media junks — have made villain out of Shaon, the just widowed wife of deceased writer Humayun Ahmed.
Wife Shaon and publisher Mazhar are the villains in all Bangladeshi tabloids now a days. But these are the two people who were with Humayun during his last lap. Shaon’s struggle to save Humayun was en epic battle. Can anyone imagine how difficult it was for her to move to NY with two very young kids and a sick man who, all his life, is used to have everything done for him, including bringing a glass of water? Shaon had to start a family from scratch. Singlehandedly. Mazhar and some occasional local Bangladeshi vagabonds helped her out once a while.
Yes Humayun did dump his first wife for the life he always lived/ wanted to live. Fun filled child’s play. But when there are three teenage girls raising at the house, the door cannot be kept open all day night for endless stream of visitors for all night adda. When Humayun’s Gultekin became a protective mother of three daughters, Humayun needed some one else. Gultekin wanted Humayun now to be a responsible father. Humayun was not ready to give up his soul. Humayun was ready to prioritize his personal life style over his moral obligation for his wife. His love probably was not there anymore. He however always thought his children will be his and he had no intention to part with them. It’s the daughters who probably did not accept their father’s betrayal with their mother.
Shaon gave Humayun everything he wanted. He will sit beside the pond all night and Shaon will sing for her. He will get wet in rain, Shaon will be there. Humayun will paint pond side, his friends catch fish and Shaon will sing song. Shaon married Humayun out of teenage love. A girl, who is in her late teen age or early twenties, has every right to fall in love with funny, romantic, creative as well as a leader type, larger than life type figure. The intensity of love in this age will mask the anomalies that the person she is falling in love with is a much older man, kind of father figure, a married man with daughters her age. Meher Afroz Shaon, the just widowed wife of author Humayun Ahmed has only one reason to resort to this extreme venture, uninhabitable love. She herself is from a very affluent family, a shining start in country’s cultural scene, a brilliant student — she could easily marry the most suitable living boys around at that time. It needed lots of guts for both her and the author.
This conservative society will keep blindly blaming the girl for the marriage they think anomalous. A man her fathers age, who is equally, if not more, to blame — will remain pretty much untouched. “purush manush to, oder ar ki dish, shob dosh to oi meyetar… you cannot blame the man for this sort of affair, if anyone to blame it is that spoiled girl”.
The three daughters of Humayun had valid reasons to be angry at their dad. He was a great source of embarrassment for them. When Humayun was supposed to be playing with their kids, he had two boys his grand child’s age. But there was no reason to believe that his daughters did not know that Humayun was suffering from incurable disease, a deadly cancer. It was unforgivable that they did not call him or even see him when he was back for a short stay.
It was Shaon who fought for Humayun till the last day. Humayun was her big bet. She had to have a relative long stretch of life to live with Humayun with their sons. She played a big gamble marrying him, now she had to somehow keep him alive. So that her very young kids get to see their dad. Her first miscarriage was big blow for her. She was always under scrutiny. Firs miscarriage was also her failure. That’s why two more boys come to this world that at least gave Shaon some authority, some authenticity as his wife.
Again think of cold winter in Jamaica’s run down neighborhood, a old run down home, a sick Humayun Ahmed and Shaon in charge of having Humayun get treatment, taking care of young kids and living like a family.
This article by a person who was with Humayun Ahmed and family during his last days will shed some light on how Shaon faced the battle.
She fought like a great warrior. She deserved accolade of all the society. Unfortunately, the opposite is happening.
It’s a very unjust society.