I have turned 55 today. I would have retired if I were to follow the old scheme of retirement age. In some ways, I do feel like retiring given the ever-increasing demands. On the other hand, I felt I need to achieve more in all spheres of life particularly of my own academic career.
The birthday, this time round, seems to be surrounded with gloomy matters. For a few days since last Saturday, I have been receiving news of death of people I know. There was Prof. A.K.M. Azhar who left us on Saturday and just two days ago, it was Prof. Mahiran. While I am not that close to them, I can't help feeling sad about their departure (and reflecting of one's own). But it was my wife's niece who passed away on last Tuesday morning that made the most impact. She was the one who had a brain tumour that I have mentioned here. She had brain surgery sometime in September and was on life-support or critically dependent on medications since then. She never recovered from the surgery and her suffering ended that morning. With sadness we went to JB that early morning for her funeral. She had just turned 16 a few days earlier. May Allah grant forgiveness to her and that her soul be placed among the righteous and pious.
Besides death, I was brooding over a decision of the lab that was not in my favour. About a month ago, I received a nice surprise request for a position in our research group by someone I had known only by name earlier. For this, I tabled the proposal for him to be a research fellow in our lab. Unfortunately, the proposal faced objections from the lab members. The applicant's "sin" was to take up the invitation of an earlier research position by someone well-known in what is deemed a controversial place. While noting that one must take political sensitivities into account, I would have thought that scientific matters will take more priority, but alas the objections grew. Our theoretical physics group was disappointed with the decision. All this while we had been accommodative in accepting guests and appointments that are not in our areas but this person who is very much within our research interest comes along, things get to be hostile. For us, it was very much a lost opportunity and led us to question many matters. We were hoping that with this applicant in our group, he would instill a breath of fresh air in our group, but instead we were left with the stale air that I have been providing all these years. Him being internationally known, we thought that we can bring our group to the next level and even add international visibility to the institute. I have to reveal this matter here for otherwise the voice of the theoretical physics minority will never get to be heard. As usual, we will let time heal the situation. We will continue to build our theoretical physics efforts here in this university irrespective of all the obstacles, no matter what and contribute to others when we feel welcomed.
Let me end this birthday post with something more cheerful. It was nice to have colleagues, students and friends who still remember you that help build our sense of belonging here. First, during the group meeting, my students bought pizza for our group meeting. Today, after the institute's meeting, the staff had me cut a birthday cake (see pics courtesy of Nurul below). Thank you again for all these.
I leave this post with this article on Bohm's "On Dialogue" that I have just found on FB, something worth reflecting on. Yes, I'm back on that social media watching all the dialogues that kept us together and apart.