• Thursday, September 18, 2014

CROSS TALK

Instant history is our new constant

Mohammad Badrul Ahsan

THE prime minister has said that the BNP chairperson and her son should be taken on remand to find their involvement in the killing of a late president, who is also the founder of their party besides being the husband of one and the father of  the other. She made that ludicrous comment in her response to another ludicrous comment made by the late president's son who wants the prime minister to be remanded because his father was assassinated 17 days after she had returned to the country in 1981. While taking potshots at the opponent is the favourite pastime of our politicians, in more civilised countries both leaders would have been indicted either for perjury or suppression of facts.
Because they have spoken in the manner as if both sides knew how the late president was killed and who had killed him. If there is any substance to their claims, they should be asked to produce evidence corroborating their mutual vilifications. If it's no more than political balderdash, both sides should restrain from sullying the memories of a war hero, who is also one of our iconic national leaders.
Historians could give us the other solution provided they wrote objective history devoid of their subjective orientations. There have been extensive deliberations from a US journalist pointing his finger at the most noted political chameleon of this century in this country, who may have killed two birds with one stone. It's a shame that an outsider had to find that truth for us while our homegrown scholars remained clueless or succumbed to political silence.
We are now constrained to listen to such versions of history, which are comparable to instant coffee. Instant coffee is commercially prepared by either freeze-drying or spray drying, after which it can be rehydrated. Advantages of instant coffee include speed of preparation, lower shipping weight and long shelf life.
Instant history is popular amongst us for pretty much the same reasons except that it will hurt this nation if it acquires shelf life. If one senior BNP leader has been brewing history from his instant packs in London and Kuala Lumpur, the prime minister and her acolytes are also doing the same thing at home. All of them are playing a hoax on us by injecting their delusions into our minds.
It's because those who know truth are sitting on the sideline. There are still many of those alive, who could tell us what had happened or help us find the grim facts. It seems they don't feel the pressure to make a clean breast of it, determined to take their secrets to their graves having truth concealed in them like coffins ensconced in burial vaults.
At times this concealment has been deemed necessary by nations. During the Second World War the victorious Red Army committed mass rape across Prussia and eastern Germany as they closed in on Berlin. They forced the men to watch the violation of their women before their eyes. Scores of German men and women went to their graves carrying their shame sealed in their hearts. The living Germans never wanted that the humiliation of them, their mothers and grandmothers should be held up to the public eye.


In some cultures people draw the line between confession to the wrongs they have done to others and those others have done to them. It may not make the world a better place, but Arnold Schwarzenegger revealed in his memoir that he had a raunchy relationship with Brigitte Nielsen even when he was courting his future wife Maria Shriver. Hollywood actor Warren Beatty should be a cult figure to the womanisers of the world because he confessed to bedding 12,775 women including big names in music, modeling and movies. Some women might feel vindicated that in one single day Beatty's sister and Hollywood actress Shirley MacLaine consorted with three different men.
Some people, who do not wish to be embarrassed in their lifetime or face the wrath of friends and colleagues, resort to embargos. Indian leader Maulana Azad had written his autobiography but asked the last 30 pages of the book to be disclosed 30 years after his death. Former US presidents have put documents in time capsules that can be opened only so many years after their deaths.
Other nations find the burden of truth hard to bear at the national or individual level, which forces them to confess at some stage of their life. Memoir writing is a cottage industry in the West, because people tend to seek release in their admissions. It's called repressed memory syndrome when that burden reaches the clinical stage.
This nation has reached that clinical stage when the history which it can't recall is affecting it consciously. That explains why politics has lately turned into a mental disorder.

The writer is Editor, First News and an opinion writer for The Daily Star.
Email: badrul151@yahoo.com

Published: 12:00 am Friday, June 20, 2014

TAGS: BNP Sheikh Hasina prime minister Khaeda Zia

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