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Neak Chowdhurey Oral History Interview

Oral history interview with Neak Chowdhury on July 17th, 2022, conducted by Subat Matin. Neak Chowdhury was born in Dhaka, Bangladesh and immigrated to the United States in 1981. When she first moved to Brooklyn there were not many Bangladeshi people living here at that the time. She felt lonely because in Bangladesh she grew up in a big family and enjoyed the social life, but after coming to New York she didn’t have any of that option for many years. Neak talks about missing her country, family and siblings. Neak immediately began working to fill the void of feeling lonely. She worked to financially support her family and also did household chores after work. Neak wanted her son to appreciate Bangladeshi culture so she taught him how to speak Bangla and learn about the culture. She currently resides in Brooklyn, New York with her son and husband.

Date: July 17, 2022
Type: Oral History
Creator: Subat Matin
Location: Brooklyn, NY

Date: July 17th, 2022

Interviewee: Neak Chowdhurey

Interviewer: Subat Matin

Location: Brooklyn, New York

MATIN: Today is July 17th, 2022. Tell me your life story.

NEAK: I am Bangladeshi. My childhood took place in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

MATIN: What is your name?

NEAK: …Dhaka. My childhood was good, I enjoyed it. I used to play and sing. Singing was my favorite. I would also perform on TV. I did well, it was good. My mom and dad loved us and took care of us. My siblings and I got along well. We would have a lot of fun with singing and playing instruments like guitar, harmonium, drums, we were occupied with these. My childhood was very nice. After that I graduated from Eden College and passed my BAC and after that I got married and later, I came to America. In 1981- When I came to America there were not a lot of Bengali people. I used to feel bored and missed my country and my siblings. Slowly everything happened. Afterwards I bought a house, slowly I found more Bengalis, everything went fine. I even have a son, a husband, and now I live on Ocean Parkway. I am well. I like the social life a lot. I go to everyone’s houses and hang out, people also invite me. That’s how my life is going.

MATIN: What is your name and where were you born?

NEAK: My name is Neak Chowdhurey. I was born in Sandwip at my grandfather’s home. From there when my father got a job, my parents and I moved to Chittagong, then from there Dhaka, and from there Khulna, then again to Dhaka, that’s how it was going.

MATIN: You mentioned earlier that you used to sing a lot during your childhood, tell me a little bit about your experience.

NEAK: I mean you know college or school functions there’s music and singing, I was a part of those. My teacher was…Bulbul…Academy is where I would sing twice a week. From there they would take us on TV. I would perform in a group or by myself, this was a long time ago. He actually passed away. After that the engineering institute, fresh club, ladies club, I would sing at these places. I really enjoyed it. I could’ve done it here as well now but they don’t have these things here. It’s not enjoyable alone. Let’s say if there’s a family gathering, then there is some singing there. They don’t have these practices here. I am regretful of this. If I still lived in Bangladesh, I would’ve had this. Music was my favorite.

MATIN: How many siblings do you have?

NEAK: We are 6 brothers and 6 sisters. I’m the oldest. After me are 3 brothers, then a sister, brother, sister, brother. Everyone is here. My parents are no longer here. It’s been 30 years since they passed away. In Bangladesh there are…2 brothers and 1 sister but they visit back and forth, they don’t live here. I do have some relatives there. But I still go back to visit Bangladesh, I like it.

MATIN: What was school like when you lived in Bangladesh?

NEAK: It was very good. I was always first. I was never second. From class one all the way to the metric. I was good at biology, I was good at math, chemistry, physics, I was good at all of these. I always received 5 marks for my writing. My writing was beautiful or at least that’s what teacher’s used to say, what else can I say? Now I don’t write as often, I don’t write at all really so it became really bad. Before there even used to be writing challenges in Bangla. It was impossible to write because it wasn’t handwritten. After that they would look at our music books, the books where we write songs, it was all typed. Now, I don’t really write here. Also, my father’s handwriting was really beautiful and I received that trait.

MATIN: And what kinds of food did you guys eat in Bangladesh?

NEAK: Regular things, whatever my mom would cook. Food from Bangladesh is good. I cook the same way here even though it’s a little different here. I like Bangladeshi food.

MATIN: While living in Bangladesh, did you know anything about American culture?

NEAK: No, I didn’t know much.

MATIN: Would they teach you anything about it at school?

NEAK: No. Back then there wasn’t much information about America. It was all within Bangladesh. It didn’t go that far. Back then I would, I had this thing where I would, if anyone said anything to me, I would threaten and say I’m going to go abroad. I wouldn’t say London, I would say abroad. Every time, if anyone said anything to me, I’d say I’m going abroad. So, when I was set to come to America and everything was ready my eyes began to water. Since I used to always say this, maybe that’s why God is sending me to America now. I’m going to go abroad, I’m going to go abroad.

MATIN: How did you hear about America?

NEAK: Back then, they would bring doctors and engineers. My husband is an engineer. Like here what do they call it? They would bring DB1, OP1. Back then the American government would bring doctors and engineers. He applied there and he got it, we came within a month that way.

MATIN: How did you leave Bangladesh?

NEAK: What?

MATIN: Why did you leave Bangladesh?

NEAK: Me? I came as a wife.

MATIN: And why did you want to immigrate specifically to New York?

NEAK: Their office was here. They told him to join here. I lived on Ocean Parkway, 466 Ocean Parkway. Afterward I moved to 415 and from there I bought a house and now I live here, I’m still here pretty much.

MATIN: What kind of experiences did you have coming to New York?

NEAK: I like it. I like everything but I still for some reason, I miss my country. I think of my relatives. It’s not that I’m forgetting or will forget. There’s just an affection for your own country. Now I’m here, I have to live here, I like it. I don’t think it’s bad.

MATIN: What year did you come to America?

NEAK: 1990…81’.

MATIN: And when you first came to America, what surprised you about American culture?

NEAK: Back then, there actually weren’t many Bangladeshis here. I used to cry. I felt lonely. I was completely alone. There were one or two Indians that I saw. No one was there. It was very quiet. I didn’t like it. I have a lot of siblings, I missed them a lot. Back then phones didn’t exist so I couldn’t even talk to them. In the beginning I felt bad but slowly it got better. I turned out fine. Then my siblings started to come, I fixed up my house, I started to buy things. Slowly my mind was at ease. Slowly I reached this point, now I like it. I really like to go out. If there are any parties, I attend them and everyone invites me. My relatives, my siblings, everyone, no one would have a party without me.

MATIN: When you lived in Bangladesh, did you ever hear about other Bangladeshis that would come to America?

NEAK: A little bit, very little. Slowly after living here, I found one or two Bengalis and I would hang out with them but that was pretty much it but there was very little. Everyone tells me I’m the first woman here but there were other people they just weren’t close by, that’s why I didn’t like it.

MATIN: How did you find them?

NEAK: Some were from my husband’s side. My…let’s say I went to someone’s house from my husband’s side, they would then say come over on this date and we will go to another person’s house. This is how it slowly happened or else it was a very bad situation, there were not many people here.

MATIN: Did you face any discrimination after coming to America?

NEAK: No, I didn’t. I used to think people were polite. If everyone saw me, they would say hi or hello, I really liked it.

MATIN: And how did you adjust to the American lifestyle after coming here?

NEAK: I actually stayed the way I usually am. I lived the way I wanted to as a Bengali. In our country we wouldn’t wear pants and shirts so slowly I wore them but I maintained my modesty as a Bangladeshi so that no one could speak badly of me. That’s how I was living and no one has spoken badly of me even now.

MATIN: What do you like the most about living in New York?

NEAK: In New York? I like to go out, I like going on long drives, visiting relatives' houses, and going to picnics are also nice. The moral of the story is I enjoy everything. I like shopping. I go to Jackson Heights and shop. Even if I don’t shop as much as I used to, if someone tells me to go shopping, I will go. I like it. I do have affection towards my country as well so I go to visit but there’s not many people there. But even then, I still enjoy it.

MATIN: Did you face any kind of problems after coming here?

NEAK: No, I didn’t face any kind of problems.

MATIN: Did your family face any kind of problem?

NEAK: No. I brought everyone here to this country. So, pretty much we are all well. We have get together, we come and go. Sometimes arguments with your siblings happen like hey why did you say this, I heard this happened but later we are fine meaning we resolve it. We are good.

MATIN: After coming to America did you have to learn English or did you not learn it?

NEAK: No it just happened. I used to work. Slowly after doing it, whatever I could say it was enough to get by. I didn’t go to college or university here so how can I do very well? The amount that is necessary to know has been enough for me so far, I don’t have any problems.

MATIN: When you came here how did it feel having to leave your family behind in Bangladesh?

NEAK: That’s what I said earlier. I used to feel bored and I would cry. I would say I won’t stay here, I want to leave. I didn’t like it at all. I was alone so…and then I wouldn’t see any Bengalis so when I found one or two and I would hang out with them, then I would feel a little better. Slowly it was all fine eventually.

MATIN: After coming to America, how would you guys find Halal or Bengali food?

NEAK: Back then these were not here. I used to live on Ocean Parkway, 466 and from there I would walk to McDonald where there was one Arabian store that was halal. We used to tell people we eat halal and they said there is a halal store there. So, then I’d walk there, it was pretty far. It was between Ditmas and Cortelyou. My brother was here and he and I would walk and buy meat from there. If we needed to buy fish or vegetables, we would have to go to the China market. None of these things were here. That time trying to find these things felt very like where will I find them? Those were some problems.

MATIN: And after coming here how many times would you visit Bangladesh to see your family?

NEAK: I think…14 times.

MATIN: And how would you speak to your family in Bangladesh and keep in contact with them?

NEAK: On the phone. I had a phone so I would speak to them on the phone.

MATIN: Do you think Bangladesh or America is your home now?

NEAK: Actually, I think home is here. Now I don’t think I’d be able to go to Bangladesh to settle there, just for visit because everyone lives here. My son, my husband. I can’t go there and do that now. Just for visit.

MATIN: You said earlier that you worked here.

NEAK: Yes.

MATIN: Tell me a little bit about those experiences and what you did for work here.

NEAK: I used to work at gyro restaurant and I loved working there. It was at Grand Central, Gyros bread basket. I worked there for about 5 years. They really liked me. If my schedule was over, they would tell me to stay longer and I would work for an extra 2 hours. From there I went to…I did a lot of work. I also did…it was, they made me the head cashier there. They knew me very well. As soon as I stepped in everyone would yell hey, she’s here. I really enjoyed it. Wherever I go, my name is there. It went really well.

MATIN: Since you were working did you also have to come home and take care of your home and family?

NEAK: Yes. I had to come home from work and do all the work as well. I can’t eat if I don’t cook. No matter how late it was at night I had to come and work. I used to take evening shifts because I wasn’t a morning person. Let’s say from 3pm to 10pm. I would come home and cook, then eat and sleep, and talk on the phone. I didn’t mind doing those things. I like to cook too.

MATIN: Did you know of any other Bangladeshi women that would not work and were housewives?
NEAK: Yes. Maybe they didn’t work then but they work now. My cousin, Shahida, wouldn’t work. She and I have a good friendship. But she works now.

MATIN: What kind of opportunities did you have while working in America that you didn’t have in Bangladesh?

NEAK: Who wasn’t in Bangladesh?

MATIN: When you worked in America, what kind of opportunities did you have here that you didn’t have in Bangladesh?

NEAK: Well, there’s a difference here because I didn’t work in Bangladesh. I worked here and I enjoyed it. I saw everything and learned, I worked at the cash register, I liked it. I didn’t mind cooking, but I had to. The difference is I didn’t work in Bangladesh and now once I came here I had to.

MATIN: You said that you have a son.

NEAK: Yes.

MATIN: What was your role like while working and then coming home…

NEAK: No, he hasn’t gotten married yet.

MATIN: What was your role like? Was your son born here?

NEAK: Yes.

MATIN: So, would you have to come home and also watch him?

NEAK: I used to keep him with a babysitter. There was a Bengali babysitter here. I put my son to a babysitter and I had to work because we were not doing well financially.

MATIN: And what would your husband do?

NEAK: That was a little bit of a problem. My husband used to study and never worked. So I would have to work. I worked, took care of my son and did all the housework. He’s really brainy, he’s an aeronautical engineer. But he just used to study. After studying he would organize all of his books neatly. My husband never worked so everything was up to me to do and I could do everything. You could call me a man or a woman because I had to do all of the work. But now I’m not as physically well and can’t do as much as I used to but I still have to do it. But later my husband did work on his computer but my husband had so much loans he didn’t have enough money to take care of the household things so I took care of everything.

MATIN: After coming here how did you maintain your Bangladeshi culture?

NEAK: That actually happened on its own. I never had it in my mindset that I had to behave like an American so I stayed by myself.

MATIN: And how did you teach these Bangladeshi cultural values to your child?

NEAK: When I would speak Bangla at home. I taught my son how to speak Bangla and learn to appreciate Bangladeshi culture. He speaks Bangla fluently and he has a lot of interest in it. He visited Bangladesh 12 times from the age of 4 and he still wants to go visit. I’ll take him but he’s just like me.

MATIN: How would you like for your son to be raised with Bangladeshi culture?

NEAK: It’s not why it’s just, my thing is that I want my home to stay that way. Since he’s born here there is going to be a little bit of a difference. Those differences can stay too, I don’t have a problem with it.

MATIN: Did you ever face any problems while trying to teach your child about Bangladeshi culture?

NEAK: No, but rather he would question me. Mom what does this mean, what does that mean? He wants to know everything.

MATIN: What do you think makes a person a Bangladeshi? What are some Bangladeshi cultural traits?

NEAK: What?

MATIN: What makes a person Bangladeshi? What kind of qualities do they have that make them Bangladeshi?

NEAK: Meaning their parents? Parents? Some people try but it also doesn’t work out for many people. For me it somehow happened and people are shocked by it. For example, I know my brother has two daughters. The youngest one won’t speak in Bangla at all. They tell her hey Amira, I don’t understand what you’re saying, speak in Bangla. She doesn’t speak it at all. She’s completely mute. The eldest daughter speaks a little bit. There are people like that even within my own family that don’t want to speak in Bangla but they try to. Now, everyone’s not the same and they are at school all day, their friends are that way, they don’t know how to speak, maybe so they become mute.

MATIN: What do you like about Bangladeshi culture?

NEAK: As I said, I love music, playing, having a good time, get togethers, buying new things, going out. I don’t have any set things I like. I love doing everything.

MATIN: What’s your favorite Bangla song? What kind of Bangla songs?

NEAK: Actually, I used to perform Indian songs…Manna Dey was my absolute favorite. Since my childhood whenever the Indian radio was playing or it was on TV, I used to like them a lot. I don’t know many Bangla songs.

MATIN: How was your wedding set with your husband?

NEAK: One of my friends knew him and one of her relatives knew him as well so that’s how it happened and we spoke. His family is good. After that we just talked, it wasn’t a love marriage. It was arranged.

MATIN: Do you think there are any problems with Bangladeshi culture?

NEAK: What do you mean like what?

MATIN: Do you see any problems with Bangladeshi culture?

NEAK: Of course, there will be problems. No one can be perfectly neat and clean. There are problems, a lot of problems.

MATIN: What kinds of problems do you see?

NEAK: Husbands and wives have problems, mother and son, with their daughters as well. There is always some kind of problem, even a little. I think our biggest problem is that here boys can’t find girls and girls can’t find boys for marriage. If it were in our country, we wouldn’t have this problem. This is because everyone is from the same country, same relatives, at least one person will bring a proposal and marriage happens. But here that’s a problem. It’s a very big problem, I think.

MATIN: Do you now consider yourself to be Bangladeshi or American?

NEAK: I think…I love America a lot. Since I live here, I can’t betray that because my happiness and all good things are coming from here so why am I going to be bad? But in my heart and mind I am Bangladeshi since it is my motherland. My parents came from there and I was raised there. My parents showed me the world and because of them and their prayers I am able to come this far. That’s why it is good here but my motherland is also good. Both of them are good.

MATIN: Do you think there is a difference between a Bangladeshi American and a Bangladeshi?

NEAK: Like what?

MATIN: Do you think inside they have any differences?

NEAK: Yes, I think there is a little difference.

MATIN: What’s the difference?

NEAK: The difference is that let’s say, Americans are a little more straight-forward and Bengalis actually have a lot more patience. They want to accept things, be patient and wait things out and hope that eventually everything will be okay. But Americans don’t have this trait. They’re just hi and bye. Aren’t I right?

MATIN: How does your child identify? Does he think he is American or Bangladeshi? Or Bangladeshi American?

NEAK: He thinks he is both but he also likes being Bengali. But whenever we talk about something he says but mom I’m born here. Of course, they’re going to say that. He doesn’t mean it in a bad way, he says it nicely so yes, I understand. He’s very open-minded. It's very good.

MATIN: How is the Bangladeshi community in Brooklyn?

NEAK: They’re good, it’s not bad.

MATIN: Tell me a little bit about that.

NEAK: I mean the people I know and the people I mingle with…now since I am able to get along with them that’s my side of it. Since we have similarities, we are able to get along. It’s not bad, it’s good. I don’t socialize with everyone. I don’t know everyone. But the ones that I know like my cousin or friend, they’re good. Nothing bad has ever happened, not even an argument. Even now we are good. We talk on the phone, and we visit each other on Eid. Even today we are good. My son even says, mom why do you have so many friends? Why don’t you guys ever argue?

MATIN: Are you involved with any organizations in Brooklyn?

NEAK: At this moment I am not but I was before. I was a part of an Indian…actually I went to a lot of places, cultural and everything. There isn’t one organization I missed. But now not as much. I actually don’t go anywhere now.

MATIN: What was the name of that organization?

NEAK: I don’t remember the name. It was a very long time ago, then I was still new. It was in 40…somewhere here in Brooklyn. It was on 42nd or maybe 40. I used to go to an Indian program when I first came. I learned about their food for the first time and eating it for the first time…I mean I can still picture it. Brother Salam took me there. I do remember that. But now I don’t remember the address. I also went to Manhattan, then Manna Dey would come…other singers. I saw everyone. Then…Indian actors and actresses would come, Shah Rukh Khan, not one person was left. I’m satisfied, I’ve seen everything I’ve had to see.

MATIN: And when you were a part of this organization, what did you like most about it?

NEAK: The music, singing, I also did some acting. There was someone named Jhorna, another named Nargis…in Queens. The president was Sir Zacharia and Dr…also participated. We were like a society. A Bangladesh society, I think. It was a long time ago. It no longer exists.

MATIN: What kind of struggles do you think Bangladeshis in Brooklyn face the most?

NEAK: Bangladeshis do struggle. In construction, they do a lot of hard work. They make money but they also do well. They do a very good job.

MATIN: What do you think Bangladeshis who are living in New York struggle with the most?

NEAK: In Bangladesh?


NEAK: It’s not that it’s a struggle, rather they would be able to do more things if they were here. There are more benefits here. After working hard and earning money then maybe by moving far and buying a bigger house they can relax a bit. It’s much easier here that’s why more people live here. There’s benefits but you have to work really hard.

MATIN: While living in Bangladesh, did you ever learn about British control over the Bengal region in school?

NEAK: I did but I don’t remember everything now. I heard so many stories about British rule. They would tell us and I would listen and read about it. We would read about it in history class. I heard a lot of stories about British rule but I don’t remember all those things now. Oh wow, there are so many stories about the British. Back then they used to say the British reign would never end. I used to know these things but now…

MATIN: And during the war in Bangladesh in 1971, what kind of experiences did you have? What were you and your family doing then?

NEAK: I wouldn’t understand much but my father struggled a lot. His office was nearby, let's say the road was here. At that time, we lived in Khulna. From Jashore to Khulna, the military cars were coming and going. I would hear loud gunshots. One of the bullets came towards my dad and he was shot in the arm. My dad fell immediately. We were all…back then the situation was really bad. Later my siblings and parents and I, we all went on a ship to Sandwip. We were in Sandwip then.

MATIN: Tell me a little bit about that. You said the situation was really bad then.

NEAK: There were a lot of shootings and we left to go to a village. Its name was Maniktala. We went to the village and even there the situation was very bad. The worst thing was that at that time I was a teenager. The military was said to come and take us. My father was very scared. I was scared too. I would hide underneath the bed. I felt like the shootings were happening in my own home. I was so scared I hid under the bed because I was a teenager then. They would say the military is coming and they’re going to take us away. We were living with a lot of fear. I get scared when I remember it. After that we went to Sandwip. In Sandwip I couldn’t tell a thing. It was very relaxing there.

MATIN: What are your opinions on Bangladesh’s war?

NEAK: What am I going to do with my opinions now? Today Bangladesh is doing well. If it was still like that, I don’t know what would’ve happened today. But I think it has improved and developed well. It’s really great. When I visited this time around, I really enjoyed it. I myself don’t know the way around the streets anymore but other than that it’s good. It’s kept nice and clean. People are learning a lot of things. They are throwing away their garbage properly, there’s sweeping, there’s a lot less dust and dirt. It’s good, it’s not bad.

MATIN: Did you know any Bangladeshis that sought refuge in India or fought during the war?

NEAK: Yes, there were. There were a lot of people. Someone that I knew…got ready and went to India. They started saying on the radio what was going on in the war. But there was also fake news. But from what I saw, people went there because they wanted to survive. But in reality, no one actually did anything to them, nothing happened. There were things like that too pretty much.

MATIN: Do you remember what your school taught you about Bangladesh’s history?

NEAK: No. I was a science major so I didn’t study a lot about history.

MATIN: What do you think is the most important thing about Bangladesh’s history?

NEAK: Yes, there are some important things. It’s not that there is nothing important at all. But I don’t really know a lot about history. I focused on sciences like biology, chemistry so I don’t know much about this. Bangla, English, and science were my subjects.

MATIN: And while living in Bangladesh, did they ever teach you guys about United States history?

NEAK: No, back then we didn’t have that.

MATIN: Did you know of any Bangladeshis that would go to the middle east for work?

NEAK: At that time no, there wasn’t much of that back then. It was very little maybe but I don’t remember. Actually, one of my uncles when he was going to London…whoever was coming they would come to our house. My mother was very well known. Oh, you know Khadem? It was Khadem’s uncle. When he went to London, he stopped by our house. I remember that I was still in school. Another person…I mean there weren’t very many. Another person I remember is one of my grandfathers, how I was exactly related to him I don’t remember but he is in America now in Tennessee. I do remember him. His name was Jilou Rahman. At that time, I was very young. He would also stop by our house. I just know he’s in Tennessee now. I just remember that one person and after that Khadem came, we came, then ours was the first. Before that it was very little.

MATIN: How was the immigration process for you?

NEAK: Which one?

MATIN: Your immigration process? When you came as an immigrant here, how was it for you?

NEAK: It was good. We applied and we found it. That was all. I didn’t really understand much. I didn’t know that many people were applying or coming here, I didn’t understand that much. I came here but after coming here I saw that I wasn’t liking it here. I didn’t like it at all. Oh wow, my situation was really bad. I was scared. There weren’t any grills on the windows, this is such a big house what if a thief breaks in? What's going to happen? I was really scared.

MATIN: After coming here how did it feel to be able to work with different people?

NEAK: No, I didn’t mind it at all. I didn’t feel that very much. I know that this is America, I am seeing all of these different people from different countries and I was like that too. It didn’t feel bad to me.

MATIN: And when you became a citizen of this country how did that feel?

NEAK: It felt really great. I applied, they called me, I had my oath. I then got my citizenship and then I could bring my parents and my siblings. I was really happy. After that I brought them here and now here, we are. I liked it. I used to think that I’m an American citizen. That’s how it felt…

MATIN: Did you know anyone that had a contract marriage?

NEAK: Yes. Back then that happened a lot. What were people supposed to do? That time people really needed a green card. People will even ask me if you find a nice American girl let me know. I would look for them. I even arranged some of them. I myself even partook in it. I would set that up and tell them to see if things work out or else there was no other way. That time getting a green card was really hard. A lot of people, maybe 80%.

MATIN: What do you miss about Bangladesh now?

NEAK: To say miss, there’s actually no one really there. None of my relatives are there. I only have 2 aunts there. My uncles aren’t there and let’s say Khadem, my cousin, he is here but still I go to visit Bangladesh. But no one is there. Before I used to enjoy it, but now when I visited last time around, I didn't enjoy it as much. Firstly because of the virus and there’s not much to buy and if there was what would I buy? I don’t get to wear saris anymore and I don’t like the salwar kameez that much. I had a sister but she goes back and forth. She doesn’t live here. I would go out with her. I might go again next year. After that I won’t be able to do it anymore. I can’t do plane rides anymore. My feet swell up.

MATIN: What’s your favorite memory of your life in Bangladesh?

NEAK: mean before? Before I would sing. I was at the Bulbul Academy on Fridays and Sundays. I enjoyed it very much. Then I also had college. I would have to practice at college too. I mean I was mostly into my studies but I would also sing. I would also go out mostly with my mom or to my friend’s house. I miss those a lot. I still can’t find anyone. I wonder where my friends have gone. My best friend is actually gone. A long time ago she went to Libya with her husband and she had 2 sons. She died in an accident. So, I can’t really find my friends.

MATIN: Would you change anything about your life or immigration journey?


MATIN: Do you have any regrets in life?

NEAK: No. I really love to enjoy life.

MATIN: What are you most proud of?

NEAK: Mostly our food, like fish, curry, rice, meat, these kinds of things.

MATIN: But what is your proudest accomplishment?

NEAK: Which one?

MATIN: Accomplishment. After coming to this country or in your whole life what are you most proud about?

NEAK: In life…to say proud…I mean I am well, my siblings are here. I am still here and if I still lived in Bangladesh and I don’t really know what would’ve happened. But I don’t think I would’ve had a bad life. I would’ve still been well. My family is really big, so everyone is still doing well. I don’t think we would’ve had a bad life that’s why I don’t have any regrets. I am well.

MATIN: Would you like to share anything else or say anything else about your life?

NEAK: No, what more can I say? I really need some energy right now. I really want to live and enjoy my life. I ask God to give me energy. I don’t like complete silence. I really like to enjoy life and now I can’t really do that as much.

Collection: Subat Matin Oral History Interviews
Donor: Subat Matin
Item History: 2023-05-30 (created); 2023-06-01 (modified)

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