“My father got a dingy and we all got in, but my father said we couldn’t take my dog, Licia, because he couldn’t fit in the boat,” Khan said. “I was crying for my dog. Then Licia jumped in the water and started to swim after us.”
In exile with Licia for months as the war raged, the family watched as hundreds of thousands of people died. But finally, East Pakistan was liberated and became Bangladesh.
“It was the 16th of December, 1971,” Khan said. “A nation was born right before my eyes.”
His parents remained building the new nation, and when his father died he was the Senior Deputy Secretary of Military Defense in Bangladesh.
But Khan knew the United States was the country he wanted to call his home, emigrating in 1981, a citizen by 1988.
With his wife Nanni, he’s run a successful business here, they started and raised their family here. Their 24-year old daughter, Nusrath, a general accountant at Raytheon, is working on her masters. Son Atik, 18, is a college student at Bryant.
“They’ve both made us so proud,” he said.
And all of it – his youth in Bangladesh, his life here – gives Khan perspective to appreciate what he has more than most.
“When I was in Concord at the State House this week I met the new (Republican) Minority Leader, Gene Chandler,” Khan said. “He said he looked forward to working with me. Where else could this happen. Where else but America.”