Lily & Chandler
Mar 21, 2021 | 6823
Almost 12 years ago, on 26 March 2009, I met Shuvo (widely known as Sakib Bin Rashid or SBR) at St. Joseph’s School, Dhaka. He was convening a young crowd to organise a concert for students who have just finished secondary school. I happened to be there representing my institute along with some friends. My first impression of SBR was disappointing. I found him obnoxious, narcissistic and a bit of a show-off. While working with him to arrange a sponsor for the concert, I also perceived him to be not-so-punctual and entitled. Therefore, when the program was over, I tried not to relinquish a friend in him and moved on with my life. The plan worked quite well and I did not cross his path for at least a year. Until…
Almost 11 years ago, sometimes in March 2010, I met Shorna (also identifies herself as Mehzabeen Ahmed) while competing against her team in a leadership program. She was representing VNC while I was from Notre Dame (two rival institutions based in Dhaka). As a result, it became a holy duty for me to hate Shorna and her team. It was not an easy task, to be honest. Though we were full-of-ourselves, the girls on the opposite team were nice to us. Moreover, they were better than us beating the shit out of ourselves at every round. Our lack of talent amalgamated with teenage hormones ushered an immature hated in me (and my teammates) for Shorna (and her team). Due to years of upbringing in toxic misogyny, my teenage brain failed to cope with the miserable defeats against her team and decided to reach the conjecture that their victory was mostly due to their looks! While Shorna and her team snatched away the trophy in the competition, I suddenly noticed Shuvo clapping for her right at the back of the auditorium. I could neither fathom why he was present there nor did I want to. I ignored the whole incident and moved on with my life. The plan worked quite well and did not cross Shorna or Shuvo’s path for at least a year. Until…
Almost 10 years ago, sometimes in June 2011, I again met both Shuvo & Shorna at Mentor’s, a coaching centre for students preparing for the entrance exam of Dhaka University. All of us were in the same class solving quantitative and verbal reasoning questions for business school. If you know me, you might be dumbfounded by the previous sentence. I am a man of science. Yet I was preparing for business school! To be honest, I had no intention of going for a business degree. But the atmosphere of that class was something that I found fascinating. For instance, the exam questions were so easy that I could solve three papers in the time for one. It was partly boosting my confidence, mostly my ego. Moreover, due to the presence of Shuvo and Shorna in the cohort, there was always a bantering mode. To my utter surprise, Shuvo was exhibiting a great sense of humour in the class, mostly to impress our beautiful female instructor. Occasionally, I made a few attempts to counter his ready-wit and often found myself on the losing side. In one episode, I punched Shorna on her arm for some reason I am yet to discover. The whole scenario was mayhem.
Let’s pause for a second. So, I met two individuals on separate occasions resulting in distasteful experiences. Then I met both of them again resulting in more distasteful experiences.
Why on earth I am writing about them 10 years later?
Well, Shuvo and Shorna are getting married as you are reading this article and I can boastfully claim both the “Best Man” and the “Maid of Honour” title of this wedding. And this blog is my walk down an amnesia lane reminiscing the chain of events (from my point of view only) that have led to this point.
While we were studying at Mentor’s back in 2011, Shuvo coerced me to talk with him after the class on the top floor of a sleazy shopping mall. I tried my best to come up with a reason behind this unprecedented friendly approach. I could not find one. While I walked up the stairs with him on a lazy Tuesday afternoon, he was narrating his little love escapade pursuing Shorna for the past one year since I have seen him at that auditorium. This did not strike as unusual to me. I have noticed Shuvo’s apparent interest in her over the past few months. He would go out of his way to help her with the study materials. As someone who has dealt with Shuvo 2 years ago, I knew being helpful was not his biggest virtue. So, there has got to be some extra intention. In my mind, I always thought Shorna is way out of his league and all these attempts will be none but futile. To my utter surprise, that narcissistic-obnoxious teenager told me that finally, his attempts have seen the light of day and Shorna has agreed to go out with him. But, the whole thing is supposed to be a secret (as we all were teenagers!). They have picked a few names from their friends to share this private news and somehow I have made the cut. I got two surprises on the same afternoon. First, how did Shuvo score the girl way out of his league? Second, why on earth they would take me for their confidant?
I have known them for 10 years since then. I am yet to find an answer to those questions.
Our friendship began with our life at Dhaka University. Life does happen at Dhaka University. The freshman year was little to do with study and a lot to do with “hanging out” together. After the end of class, we used to meet at TSC where Shuvo would teach us how to play different card games, a passion of SBR. It was Shuvo, Shorna, Rafa (aka Bondhu Rafa Bondhu) and myself sitting in a circle playing 29 in every lazy afternoon. When our stomach starts to make an undesirable audio effect, we would board on a rickshaw and go to Shawarma House on Hatirpool. Shorna, in general, can not decide what to order. We would order some baked pasta, a pizza and some cold drinks to wrap up the day. Shuvo would walk us all to Poribag-bridge only to ditch us for the number 10 bus. We three will march on to Baily Road often to have one last cold coffee or roadside spicy snacks until Shorna’s sunset law kicks in. She had to be home before the sunsets. I still don’t know how moonlight affects her wellbeing.
That was the usual. But, we have special occasions too. On that list, Pahela Baishak (the Bangla New Year) was the most exciting one. On 14 April of each year, I would wake up and get dressed in traditional attires. I would reach Shorna’s place by 9:30 am (as agreed by both of us) only to wait 30-45 minutes (average 37 min, n = 5 years) so that her highness could put on the Sharee (drape) properly and enlighten my life with her presence. We both would then go to Poribag-bridge where Shuvo had been waiting for us. “The three” would then walk their path to Charukola (Department of Fine Arts) where the Mongol Shova Jatra (The New Year Procession) has already started. In the mid-summer, under the scorching sun, we would battle against ten thousand people to be at the centre of the new year celebration. To do what?
We will just go to Charukola only to realise most of our friends are now at BUET (the engineering school). Once again, we three will walk for half an hour to find a shady corner near the architecture building at BUET where all our friends would finally meet. We would take colourful photos which still circulate around social media. At midday, the whole gang (the-three plus Rafa, Sushmita, Maisha, Fabliha and X, X= the person I was dating) will decide to go to Star Kabab for lunch and order a whole goat worth of meat. We will pour our hearts out on the conversation table, make bantering comments and eat the leg roast with Porota (flatbread). By 2 pm, we all would be tired and leave to celebrate the rest of the day with our families. This would happen every year. Exactly as I described here.
The Eid after Ramadan would be our second best celebration. On a regular Eid day, we all would spend the morning with our families. But, by 4 pm, everyone would start to appear at my place. As usual, Shorna would come only to stay for an hour so that she could reach home before sunset. Shuvo, Shams, Zihan, Ramim, Ayman (the 10MS gang) will then take over the rest of the night debating over moral and philosophical issues until SBR starts his post-2am raunchy stories. We would then wake up late the next morning and have a delicious breakfast served by my mom while watching cheesy Hindi movies (e.g. Yeh Jawani Hain Diwani, Life in a Metro). This would happen every year. Exactly as I described here.
By 2017, 10 Minute School became a big part of our lives. When I first joined 10MS, I invited Shuvo to make videos on debating and general knowledge. The first day, Ayman and I were waiting for him in our Kolabagan studio. As usual, Shuvo was late. Finally, he arrived with a bare toothbrush in his hand. Entering the room, putting the toothbrush aside, he started making videos and became one of the top (also respected) content creators of Bangladesh. Later, Shorna also joined 10MS as an economics instructor and made some resourceful contents. Due to the popularity of the 10 Minute School, the Shuvo-Shorna couple started to become a national sensation. Obviously, I was on top of that fan list.
The first time I left Bangladesh for research was in 2017. Before my flight, Shuvo told us (in secret) that he wanted to propose Shorna. It started a complicated chain of events that would follow for the next couple of weeks. Using his connection, Zihan managed a live-music cafe in Dhanmondi where the grand event will take place. Avipsu and Shams installed a hidden microphone and cameras around the table. I had to stage a fake goodbye just the day before to convince Shorna that I was flying out of the country. To my surprise, I noticed, saying fake goodbye was not easy at all. Now, sitting 6,500 km away from them, I can only vouch for the difficulties of real goodbyes.
On the event day, Shuvo and Shorna arrived at the venue in an Uber ride which was being tracked by all of us. I was sitting in another restaurant keeping an eye on the car. In a Facetime call, I notified Avipsu and Shams who started the cameras and the mics. The couple entered the set. Shuvo quickly went to grab the mic and Zihan suddenly appeared with a Guitar, to Shorna’s utter surprise. “Ami taray taray rotiye debo, tumi amar…” (translation: I will declare in the galaxy that you are mine), Shuvo sings merely as Shorna enjoyed her boyfriend's performance in aww. Then each of their friends entered the scene as a waiter with a rose, a card, and a gift on the tray. Finally, it was my turn. In Shorna’s mind, I was in Oxford. She almost broke into tears seeing me entering the restaurant with something special on the tray.
It was the ring. Yes, I was the ring-bearer.
Shuvo took the ring from the tray, got down to his knees and said those magical words:
“Mehzabeen Ahmed, would you marry me?”
Despite being a girl who had troubles deciding what to order for lunch, Shorna did not have to think long for this one. She reflected on the wonderful times she had spent with Shuvo and simply come up with the most desirable answer of all times:
We all screamed, “She said, yes.”
And that’s the story the world did not know. Because, to the world, the two families would meet each other in 2020 to talk about marriage. They would get engaged in a family environment with Shuvo’s parents putting the ring in Shorna’s hand. The socially acceptable way. But, in my mind, the image that will last is that of Shuvo’s on his knees while Shorna was trembling in excitement.
It had been an exciting ride since 2011. Two persons that I did not like became the two most important people in my life. And I am thankful that it turned this way. Shuvo always taunts me saying, “Shamir lives in a sit-com narrative.” So, just to amuse him, I think Shuvo is Chandler (from F.R.I.E.N.D.S.). He is funny and can be a bit disorganised. But, he can joke his way out of an adverse situation. If Shuvo is Chandler, Shorna has to be Monica. But, I can’t call her that. Shorna is not obsessive with cleaning/organising. She resembles more with Lily (from How I met your mother). So, instead of going for Monica-Chandler or Lily-Marshal, I would call them “Lily & Chandler”. They are affectionate to each other, supportive of each other and love each other unconditionally. I can vouch for all of these as a first-hand witness. I can not think of two other persons who are more prepared for this journey than Shuvo and Shorna. And I wish you two a lifetime full of happiness.
I love you. <3
PS: Hope this counts as the best man speech.