WHAT IS HAPPENING TO BANGLADESH?
Scenario 1: “Hartal! Hartal! — burn down everything, tear down everything!” It might sound like a regular scene where a group of people is protesting against tyranny or what they perceive as injustice, while calling upon others to join them in a new form of injustice!
The irony is, if the above was your assumption, it has been entirely wrong. The protests were not made by adults trying to fill a void, but by children playing a harmless game, an impromptu invention by a group of five and six-year-olds within the confinement of their apartment building.
These children had nothing better to do except imitate their elders from the television channels. It might seem like an unusual game for children, but the paradox is that, if anyone looked at the situation deeply, they would realise that the children were as frustrated as their elders.
Why wouldn’t they be? Their regular lives have been disrupted, hampered, severed. They can no longer visit community parks, children’s zones, or even go to school because no one will take their responsibility of safety and security!
The above is not the story of all the children of Bangladesh, there are some urban children who are thoroughly enjoying hartals because they get to watch non-stop, mind-altering, hollow, Hindi-dubbed cartoons, and play online games while being cooped-up inside their tiny, unventilated apartments.
You have heard only the children’s side of the story, the women are not suffering any less. The lower middle-class to middle-class, traveling by bus, the cheapest means of transport, have to pray every day to reach their destinations safe and sound.
Scenario 2: Mariam remembered someone saying to her once that she was considered a jewel of the nation because she was a part of the garments industry, bringing millions in foreign currency to Bangladesh. She felt proud of herself and her job which gave her an identity and sense of ownership. After years of being rebuked by her husband and beaten down for every attempt at sensible conversation, she gave way to this path of rescue. Now this path didn’t seem safe anymore. Mariam was scared to death — she feared for her own safety daily as she traveled to her workplace.
She kept the bus windows closed in case any miscreant hurled a petrol bomb at her. She really wondered hard whether it was better to live in such fear or go back to her husband who beat her daily. At least with her husband, she did not have to suffer every day from the insane fear of being burnt alive.
Scenario 3: Maksud wanted to live a decent life operating a tea stall. It took him almost a year to gather enough money to set up his shop, most of it was borrowed money with an exorbitant interest rate from the local loan sharks. Profit would eventually come, after which he had planned to move to a slightly better place with his mother and discontinue her from working outside since he was able to finally take charge of everything financially.
He felt good with these thoughts before the petrol bombs were hurled at his shop. As bad luck would have it, Maksud lost his leg in the incident and his entire tea stall was burned down to ashes.
The gist: How long will we have to live in a bubble to realise that beautiful Bangladesh is burning? Brothers are hurting each other. There seems to be no unity, no camaraderie, and nobody seems to care about Bangladesh, our home that gave us shelter and identity. This is the same country our forefathers fought for, the same country they dreamt of building for their children, who are today fighting amongst themselves.
The solution is not mindless acceptance. People need to find constructive solutions, dialogue amongst brothers need to continue, decisions need to be reached based on meaningful conversation. No more fighting, no more living in fear. Let’s start discussing democracy and save Bangladesh.
*Characters described are fictitious, to give an idea of what is going on.
MARCH 23, 2015