More than 15 years ago, I worked at Akabane in Tokyo. One day, I asked Kumachan, a colleague of mine, "Hey, Let's have some beer after work, uh?" "Sorry, I got a Bangla-Party tonight" "What's the party?" I was interested in the unexpected answer.
Kumachan described for me. He had Bangladesh neighbor, migrant worker,
in his apartments. Once in a month his friends came together to the apartment
and eat Bangladesh cuisine. And Kumachan got being invited.
"How's like the Bangladesh cuisine?" I asked Kumachan "Ahh, mainly curry" I laughed cos his answer was just I had expected. I was so ignorant that I didn't know the difference between India and Bangladesh. I heard the party was held constantly after that.
A few months later, Kumachan said to me. "I feel the number of my
neighbor is increasing" Well, I heard his apartment was a studio.
His Bangladesh neighbor used to live alone in same type studio. His friend
might stay after every party. I heard Bangladesh was the most dense populated
country in the world... I pictured the Kumachan's neighbor's apartment.
However Kumachan himself looked never mind on it, kept attending the monthly
party and make a friendship with Bangladesh friends next door. What a sociability!
Unfortunately, Kumachan quitted the job, left the apartment and returned
to his home town to run a boxing gym. Ah, I forgot for telling you, he
got a Pro-Boxer's licence. Since then, I've forgot about Kumachan and the
Banglaparty for long long time.
A month ago, I was walking on the back street of Rajshahi in Bangladesh. "Excuse me, are you Japanese?" A man asked me in Japanese. His name was Rana, had used to be in Japan, he said. That's why he spoke Japanese very well. But it's not reason he attracted my interest. More over he told me he lived in familiar place in Japan, the facts was interesting to me. "Did you work in Akabane? That's very close to my place" He said. In the local city of Bangladesh, we shared the same subject about north part of Tokyo in '90s. Then he invited me to his office.
I was lead to the office on the 3rd floor in small building. Afternoon
sunlight of Bangladesh was coming through a latticed window. Rana-san describe
his current job as "Newspaper man" in Japanese. I guessed he
belonged to local paper company or Rajshahi branch of nation wide paper.
It's 20 years ago he lived in Japan. But his memory was clear enough. So
he had variety of funny stories to pick up. He talked about complicated
train station in Tokyo, romance, kindness of Japanese, stolen bike, yakuza
guy who helped him, his apartment and food ... Then I remembered the Banglaparty
that Kumachan told me. So I described the story briefly to Rana-san. "If
you had any experience to attend the party at some apartment in Akabane?"
He shook his head with smiling.
We lived in same town, almost same age. We might pass each other without
notice at a train station in Tokyo. Kuma-chan and me got some culture shock
from Bangladesh people and big interest on their life. Meanwhile, Rana-san
got similar feelings to Japanese. Accidentally I knew the fact in Bangladesh
Years later, when Rana-san decided to quit the job and back to his country
for his family. His boss joked him "Damn, back to Bangladesh?, damn"
Then he asked for him in serious "Oh, Rana-san, please stay with us,
please" His Japanese friends also missed him.
After back to Bangladesh, he became the "Newspaper man" His children
have got married. Now he lives for himself. One thing I worried about was
his connection to Japan after that. Unfortunately, not so much. Once he
sent the photo story about famous Bangladesh scene, passengers on the crowded
train's roof, to Japanese news paper. He doesn't heard from his old friends
in Tokyo. Well, pre-internet friendship is always like that I feel it.
" Portrait " Rajshahi, Bangladesh 2015