Sumaira Flower

Sumaira Flower

December 20, 2016

Farewell to You Our Friend

(This passage has been modified from the original piece written for the Bangladesh Society of New Jersey's Victory Day - December 2016 publication)

Contrary to popular belief, growing up in the garden state was one of the best things that could have happened to me. I lived a very colorful childhood which I attribute to the community I was raised in. While being wholeheartedly immersed in Bengali & Muslim cultures, my parents also made conscious efforts to ensure that I embraced being an American. My parents perceived America as the land that would offer the optimal futures for their three daughters and they're forever grateful to this country for doing just that. 

It wasn't until 2016 that being offspring of immigrants was something that I ever gave much thought to. If anything, I was always very proud to say my parents were immigrants. It actually fascinates me now that I'm an adult when I think about our parents' bravery and what they did for the futures of their unborn children. Think about it - in their early 20's, they uprooted their lives form a country where they were surrounded by the familiarity of family, food, language, lifestyle, and traveled across the globe, far away from their families, where everyone was a stranger, weather was drastically different, traditions were completely foreign, and to some, the language was unknown. Yet despite all the challenges and struggles immigrants face, our parents successfully raised 1st generation Bangladeshi-American kids. It's easy to take our parents for granted but as I get older, I become increasingly appreciative of what they did for us; they sacrificed their wants and needs to ensure that their children were equipped with the proper foundation for a prosperous future. I can only hope to be as doting of a parent some day. 

So what is an ideal 1st generation Bengali kid one might ask? Well, they're bright, respectful, talented, culturally-involved, fluent in Bangla, love "bhaath" and their families. The exemplary 1st generation Bengali kid is a chameleon - they are malleable to their environment and can charm their way through anything. This is the perfect segue to my next topic. In October, our community suffered an irreparable and incomprehensible loss, Sadaaf Mehnaz Husain. When I was asked to write this passage in honor of Sadaaf, I guiltily thought to myself, "I don't know if I'm the right person to write this." Sure, I'm her childhood friend but she had so many best friends who could recount many more detailed memories of her. That being said, I'm profoundly honored to be writing about her legacy and will write from the perspective of a great admirer of her beautiful soul. 

From near and afar, I've always adored Sadaaf. Ever since I was a kid, I used to say that she was the ultimate "IT" girl. She was intelligent and eloquent, stunning and beautiful, graceful and confident, incredibly generous and thoughtful, and just an all around cool person. Sadaaf had this aura around her like she was a celebrity; her smile and funny faces were infectious. She was the perfect hybrid of a traditional and modern Bengali woman who was respectful of elders but simultaneously shared an honest relationship with them. Family was everything to her. She was the golden child, a loving daughter, a supportive sister, an ideal daughter-in-law, and the greatest team player in her marriage. 

Sadaaf was a passionate humanitarian, a social media guru, a foodie, and a trendsetter with her unique fashion sense. I speak on behalf of our entire community when I say that we healthily idolized her but she totally deserved all the applause. She was essentially a unicorn; she was that 1st generation Bengali kid we all aspired to be like. Sadaaf is a vivid reflection of her parents, Murad Uncle and Seema Auntie, two amazing human beings who raised their children to be open-minded, respectful, easy going intellects with core Bangladeshi traditions and values ingrained in them. 

Aside from the allergy which ultimately took her life, Sadaaf was a healthy, vivacious woman with so much life ahead of her. Our entire community was excitedly waiting for her to pass her enviable traits and good genes onto her own children and be in complete awe of the stylish outfits she'd dress them in. I don't know that we'll ever be able to fully recover from this nonsensical loss; it is still difficult to digest. I pray to the almighty that her family is given the strength they need to bear their loss. The only thing I can articulate is that we're truly so fortunate to have spend the time that we did with her and the heavens are so lucky to have her as an angel. 

They say it takes a village to raise a child. Like Sadaaf and her brothers, being children of immigrants in a foreign land brought us all together through which we developed the strongest of bonds. In addition to my own parents, I have so many moms and dads from our "village" (including Sadaaf's parents) who have been influential contributors to my upbringing. We're not just a tight-knit society, we're family. Together, we will face challenges and celebrate the joys of life. We are who we are because of each other. Though I've been away for a decade, I am forever grateful to the Bengali community I grew up with. 

Life is full of ebbs and flows; all of our trajectories are unknown. Whether a sudden death or an approaching presidency unfavorable to our community, it's important that our bond remains tighter than it's ever been. We cannot be discouraged or become despondent. We must be proud of who we are, where we come from, what we represent, and stand united. 

We miss you Sadaaf
Rest peacefully & beautifully
(February 19, 1987 - October 20, 2016)

October 07, 2016


Well hello! My oh my, it's been quite a while hasn't it...but it sure feels good to be back! I was dealing with some abnormally stressful situations since I last posted 6 months ago hence my absence from the blogosphere. As I normally would have in my younger years, I have no desire to harp on what happened considering I've happily moved on with my life!  

In light of this blog's 6th birthday [OMG! She's growing up so fast] and "starting over" having come out on top, I'm re-committing to writing, sharing stories/thoughts, and just being present again. :) 

Over the years, this blog has served many purposes. Most recently, it became a form of therapy; a cathartic platform for me to vent during the darkest days of my illness. I will forever be grateful for I believe, writing those passages so vulnerably like that truly helped me discover, heal, and evolve.  

This next chapter is going to be different from the others and I'm pretty sure, the best one yet! I'm in a much better place now in all aspects of my life and can't wait to share personal tales illustrating how beautiful and bright life can be once you've weathered through the storm! Stay tuned... x Flower

April 26, 2016

From Relapse to Renaissance

During my the peak of my illness, this blog became an invaluable gift to me. I never intended for this blog to be about me and most certainly not about my sickness but overtime, it transformed into a cathartic platform where I freely expressed my thoughts and feelings during my lows with hopes of helping others while simultaneously helping myself. Which explains why I've been MIA on here.

In the last 6 months, my health and vision were trending upwards. I've been working relentlessly towards remission and have made significant strides in my recovery which re-opened the doors of excitement, laughter and happiness for me. Everything was beautiful again. I was resurrected. But as they say, all good things must come to an end...

I'm going through yet another relapse. Words cannot possibly articulate the frustration, disappointment and anger I'm experiencing. This was the longest period of dormancy during this insanely long two year episode... so long that I sometimes even forgot that I was sick! 

In addition to being an obedient patient and undergoing IVIG every month, I changed my diet. I stopped drinking coffee. My hair is growing back. I consciously avoid stressful situations. I've become more active, social, and self-aware. All contributors to good health that involve a great deal of effort, energy, and dedication. I've been committed to my internal cause and finally started seeing the positive results of all the hard work!

Gosh, I was so naive. I got spoiled and perhaps too comfortable with feeling good, regaining confidence, and seeing well again. I foolishly believed that bad episodes were far behind me and I was finally free of shackles. I assumed that feeling great again was my right. But unfortunately, life doesn't work that way. Feeling good and being healthy is a luxury that I have to work extra hard to attain. 

Though I've been through significantly worse, this relapse has been a complete shock to my system; it's hit me harder than any of the previous episodes. All the memories I tried so hard to block are suddenly flooding my mind making me feel like I'm drowning. 

But I must re-learn to combat these strong tides as these probably won't be the last to make an appearance in my life. Yes, I'm sad and angry but I stand by the oath made last year about not letting this disease tarnish or control my spirit. Through these trials and tribulations, I'm constantly learning. And today I learned, that I need to stop being in denial and accept that this is my life. There are going to be ups and downs. These are the cards that were handed to me and it's because I can handle and conquer them with grace. 

I will bounce back and be bouncier than ever when I do. I'm not giving up; I never have and I never will. If the period before this was my resurrection then the phase after this bump will be my renaissance. xx Flower 

January 20, 2016

Taking Charge of My Life

Just like everyone else, I decided that 2016 will be my year - a year of self-discovery when I will blossom into the healthiest, happiest and most successful version of me.  

I've reached the peak of tolerance with my health issues; my patience is worn thin. I'm desperate to get better because there's a lot to accomplish that's been put on hold due to my illness. I don't want to take any more pills, endure anymore arduous treatments or feel "sick" anymore. These are my goals for the year. 

It was 11 AM on the Monday before New Year's in New Jersey. Within an hour of waking up, I had a pounding headache and was a raging b&*ch! Then, I drank coffee and both symptoms magically disappeared. Then, it dawned on me. "WHOA! Coffee controls me."

I went cold turkey and stopped drinking coffee three weeks ago. The caffeine withdrawal was BRUTAL but this decision has been a game changer for the better!

Sleep: My sleep took a major hit with the medications I've been on. I took Ambien almost every night for an entire year which means I never achieved REM sleep, never felt rested and was always tired. No good. I'm still on the medications but now, I can fall asleep naturally, through the night, albeit later than desired, without the need of a sleeping agent. (My mom is especially pleased with this!)

Energy & Mood: I have new found energy! I say new found because it's truly very different from anything I've ever felt before - it's authentic and natural; not a stimulant boost. I feel "lighter" in many respects. Not sure if I'm able to accurately convey how good I've been feeling in words but just know - it's fantastic!

Money: This one goes without saying but I've saved a lot of money. Let's say you spend an average of $3/day on coffee - simple math - that's $1,095 a year! BYE FELICIA! 

Whiter Teeth: Coffee stains your teeth. Period. 

There's plenty of evidence suggesting that coffee is in fact good for you and I still believe that it can have favorable effects. I'm not here to begin an anti-caffeine crusade and convince you to never drink it again. I'm simply sharing how cutting out coffee has been beneficial to my situation. 

Caffeine withdrawal is no joke though (it's even considered a mental health disorder!) If you're considering cutting coffee out, I highly recommend staying away from human beings for the first 3-4 days. You will have the worst headaches known to mankind, be absolutely miserable and extremely irritable but it's totally worth it! Next step towards a healthy me: nutrition 180! Stay tuned on my progress :)

P.S. It's SO liberating to not be addicted to anything anymore!