Space For Rent
Friday, May 20, 2016, Jaistha 6, 1423 BS, Shaban 12, 1437 Hijri

A resilient run wearing a coronary stent
Tapan Chakrabarty
Published :Friday, 20 May, 2016,  Time : 12:00 AM  View Count : 284
The cramping on the right calf had healed, after I drank more water and sports drink in all the remaining aid stations. After running along the 9 km long winding Seawall around Stanley Park, I entered downtown Vancouver, to the cheering of crowds. The finish gate on the West Pender Street, which I had visualized so many times during training, was in my view. The thought of finally finishing a marathon, wearing a coronary stent, made me overwhelmed with emotions. I noticed my family and friends were cheering and waving at me from the right side.
A volunteer with a finisher medal approached, the way I had visualized so many times. I walked to the recovery area of an adjacent hotel, reserved for 'Platinum Runners'. There, lying on a mat, resting my head on a foam roller, I noticed a toe nail on my right foot that had turned completely black and was causing some pain. The right calf, where the cramps appeared, was also sore. The chest felt fine with no discomfort or congestion. I then wrote a note to several BUET alumni. A young fellow serving in the recovery area took a picture of me lying on the mat. An exercise ball, I intended to use, ran away from me. I did not have any energy to get up and retrieve it. My family and two friends --- Sudhamoy Da (BUET '69) and wife Shubhra --- joined me. Their smiling and sunny presence took my pain and tiredness away. It was time to get up and pose for pictures and enjoy the moment. The moment I thought would never come again, when almost a year ago I was lying on the gurney of an emergency room in the Rocky View Hospital in Calgary, waiting for angioplasty.
Back at the Times Square Suites, Sudhamoy Da and I shared our BUET admission experiences (the dreadful engineering drawing test that favoured students from Dhaka or those who had friends or relatives there); his work experience in Bangladesh as an engineer; and then his marathon-like struggle and determination before finding an engineering job in USA, so his family could join him. Shubhra shared stories of my Sylhet BUET batch mates: Dhrubo (her elder brother, now resting in heaven); Dibyendu (my first year roommate at Ahsanullah Hall, now living in New Delhi). We continued our story-sharing at a nearby family-run Thai restaurant over a pleasant dinner.
At one point during our story-sharing, Shubhra outperformed Patricia, our Victoria condo concierge, in showing respect to an elderly. She got the opportunity when I offered her a sought-after Boston Marathon hat, which I had worn before, to pair with the other (new) I had given her husband as a gift in 2010, when they came to cheer me at Boylston Street in Boston. I told her I had one more at home. She accepted the hat saying: 'I'll wash it and wear it when we (she and her husband) walk together for a charity.' She then justified her acceptance of an old worn-hat by saying, 'It would be an honour to wear a hat you had worn. You are a great man.' That night I slept well. I did not need ear plugs (provided by the hotel) or a sleeping pill.
The morning after, I returned to Stanley Park, walking on the paved road along the Seawall, on which I had run the day before. There, I, a 66-years-old young-at-heart, posed with the sculpture of young Harry Jerome, the black Canadian sprinter, who had won multiple gold medals for Canada, in the sixties. As we were strolling in the park, I read another note from my BUET batch mate, Alamgir, announcing proudly that his hometown team, Leicester City Football Club (FC), had won the English Premier League title in football (soccer), defying all odds.
As we were walking back to our hotel, something from the left of the pavement at above my eye-level was trying to grab my attention. From a distance, the tree with golden-yellow blossoms looked like an abstract painting by Gerhard Richter, the highest earning living artist from Germany, whose one painting sells for tens of millions of dollars. As I got closer, the tree and the flowers looked familiar, but the name escaped me. Two Facebook friends reminded me it was a 'sonalu' (golden shower) tree. At Matlab, the tree goes by the name of 'badar lathi' or monkey stick, because of its stick-shaped fruit (a legume) and perhaps because of the abundance of monkeys in Matlab when I grew up there in the fifties and the sixties. Seeing their mischief first-hand, it is not difficult for me to imagine a monkey walking or fighting with a stick of sonalu.
The day after in the plane to Calgary, I read an article in the sports section of the Globe and Mail, Canada's national newspaper. It was about the incredible finish by Leicester City FC at the top of English Premier League. Its odds of winning were lower than that of seeing Elvis alive, the reporter opined melodramatically. I also thought of the odds of my running a marathon, in the wake of the placement of the stent a year earlier. At that moment, the significance of finishing the Vancouver Marathon sunk in. 'It is no ordinary finish and may never happen again!' I murmured.
I reached for the finisher medal and took a picture of it against the blue background of the BMO (Bank of Montreal, one of the sponsors) Vancouver Marathon bag. It was the most meaningful medal of the 30 I had earned since 2000. I also felt warm that I had dedicated the special marathon to the BUET Alumni, whose members, including my batch mates, had done so much through words of encouragement and best wishes and even fasting and saying prayers. Prayers and fasting are what family members do for one of their own. In that sense, the BUET Alumni proved to be my family. And an endearing one in that! (Concluded)
Tapan Chakrabarty, a BUET chemical engineer with a PhD from the University of Waterloo, a seven-continent marathon finisher, an inventor and innovator, and a columnist, writes from Calgary, Canada

Editor : Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury
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