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<%-- Volume Number --%> Vol 1 Num 128 <%-- End Volume Number --%>

October 31, 2003

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It's Worrying


The female voice on the other side of the telephone was rather straightforward. Queried she: “Are you Chintito?”

Forever bashful about my individuality, to some extent annoyed at the intrusion into my very private left ear, aware of feminine charm being used to dupe Man since Cleopatra, I tried to sound cautious: “About what?” Saying which I shifted the receiver to my right ear, but remembered at that precise moment something about genes deciding which ear you hold your phone to, and so quickly reverted to my masculinity.

She seemed disappointed. “You mean you don't know? Is that also possible?” she managed to stutter; the reason for her being short of words not understood at the time.

“Of course I know. I should. Isn't that obvious! But why do you want to know?” I was bold enough to counter.

“Is it so difficult for you to say whether you are Chintito or not”, she insisted.

“Why should I tell you? I mean I do not even know you”, I try to be on the offensive.

She sounded insulted but was determined to get an answer from me.

“Don't you read newspapers?” she asked.

I sensed a twist in her ploy and was on full guard, which usually means that I was not saying a word.

“Don't you see what is happening all around you?” she raised her voice.

I was aware of the progress made by our better halves, but the authority with which this lady was taking control of our conversation, if you can call it that, I was not enjoying at all.

“I have been talking to dozens of people all day, men and women, some even college students, and they all agreed that they were all Chintito, and you? You?” She now tried to justify the reason for her explosion.

“There are others who are Chintito?” I stammered.

“What do you think? The whole world is Chintito. And you are some maha purush taking half my day trying to figure out whether you will answer a simple query or not”, she was not letting go.

“But to me it's not a simple query”, I managed to say.

“If you find my first question so tough, how will you answer the real tough ones?” she asked, the pitch in her voice considerably lowered.

“You mean there are other questions?” I asked.

“Of course, we also need to know about what aspects are you Chintito?”


“Yeah, whether it is the abduction of businessmen in Chittagong?”

“What else?” I was beginning to relax.

“Whether it is racism on the part of the police to arrest any male who is dark and a bit lanky?”

“Ah hah!?”

“Is that a yes or a no?” she was prompt to ask.

“No, no! I was just trying to convey that I understand. I told you I was on guard. Please carry on.” I said. I was clearly enjoying this.

“Whether it is the price rise of essentials that has seen some food stuff rise one hundred percent in the last one year?”

“They have indeed!?”

“So you agree?” she draws the gun fast.

“You were saying?” I try to sound philosophical in a thick voice, a little like some of our cricket commentators on BTV. How can they for years on appear to be giving a voice test in every Test match is beyond belief? But more about the four-inch thick vocal cords some other time. I heard in some South East Asian region they eat vocal cords.

“Excuse me, Sir! Are you listening?”

“Yes, of course.”

“Whether it is the Dhaka traffic that has gone from worse to more worse, if that were possible in English. You know, that day the Concorde flew for the last time, arrey bhai last Friday. The next day Saturday I took the same time to reach Motijheel from Uttara as it took Joan Collins and David Frost to reach Heathrow from JFK,” she went on.

She was educated, this lady. I told you I was enjoying this chat, mainly because it was now one-sided.

“They crossed the Atlantic and I could not make my way through a city,” her voice was again rising. I said to myself easy boy easy. Loudly I uttered, “Please continue.”

“Our questions get more complicated, politics is. We then ask you whether you are Chintito about the Oppositions continuing boycott of the Sangsad?”

She paused for an answer and then continued. “You know, they can easily have a five hundred-seat parliament, even six hundred. They will never have any seating problem. Half of them will always be absent anyways,” this was a lady opening up.

Not hearing any chuckle from my side, she again went on the attack.

“So you don't get the joke, huh!?”

I avoid her evocation and solemnly continue. “You were saying?”

“We have something on the governance too, whether you are Chintito about the wrangle in the Bar. You do understand which bar we are talking about,” she was getting sarcastic.

Oh! I see! I thought.

“You can think too?” she quipped and hung up as suddenly as her phone call.

As I put back the receiver on its cradle, I said softly under my breath, I am Chintito, I really am.

Poor girl she will never know.


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