• Monday, March 02, 2015


Misplaced Empathies

Photo: Star File
Photo: Star File

Only last week a man in Dhaka found himself in the midst of some Brazilian (football) fanatic fans, and he (perhaps because he was not one of them) said out of jest, “Brazil Bhua (false)”, an expression not taken seriously in our society. The Bangla-speaking Bangladeshi ID card holders, having no blood relations in Brazil, and none of their kin married to anyone even remotely related to Neymar or Cesar or 'incredible' Hulk or any common Brazilian, or any Latin American, mercilessly beat up their fellow Bangladeshi to pulp, and managed to break five of his teeth. The condition of the chap is obviously critical. No Brazilian would do that to a fellow countryman. Sadly, no Brazilian will ever know about the bravado or feat of these 'sick' Bangladeshis. But a Bangladeshi will remain maimed for life.
These same 'Brazilian' deshis will perhaps not take genuinely serious matters this seriously, if you can call the passing comment of a fellow human being that. They will, for instance, not collectively admonish a man openly smoking during Ramadan. They will not ask a man to remove a tattered national flag flying atop his building. They will walk past a group of young men they know who stand at the street corner to tease passing girls. They are that much macho.
We have heard of pet cats being flown to hospitals in Thailand. We have seen imported food being made available for pet dogs. I have been told the tale of a grownup crying inconsolably at the demise of his pet goat. All very plausible, but cannot we show such love and passion for our men, women, and children? Many of them too are without treatment, without food and dying.
We are good at blowing our emotions out of proportion. We will erect three dozen gates. No! That does not sound impacting enough, 36 does. We will erect 36 gates for a leader who will be passing through our Upazilla in a motorcade at the speed of a hurricane. In all probability neta would then be napping in his air-conditioned, dark glass-wala car or talking with his companions on more engrossing matters, such as his son's bank directorship by paying 10 percent of what other sponsor directors are footing in, or his son-in-law's cricket team(Sorry! I borrowed that from Srinivasan) for the forthcoming BPL. The source of power, the waving people including uniformed schoolchildren, 7-8 year-olds also ,who are lined up on the two sides of the road, will never find out whether their 'leader' could read even one haraf of the writings on the highly decorated arcades. The children are happy that it is all over. The pati-netas will spend the next six months discussing how one assistant to the assistant to the passing-by leader told them over mobile that the leader appreciated all the 36 gates. And on that note all those present at the party office that evening will have a cup of tea. No sugar for some of them. The children did not get even a toast biscuit.
The most out-of-tune of singers, that is what they call themselves, and players of musical instruments (different from musicians) are paid to create noise on rooftops under a flowery shamiana, starting from usually 11pm on the occasion of someone's wedding, or gayeholud, or mehendi night, or engagement, or i-burobhaat, or evening of songs, or jackfruit party… (the last one I made up to avenge some of the other innovations). The reason for such inconsideration at the dead of night, often running into several nights, is because the patrons of the audio-suicide do not have any sick or elderly person or children with exams the following morning, or babies in their cradle, or common sense.
The same noise lovers would be very upset with such discordant cacophony even if several blocks away if they themselves had a submission forthcoming, or the daughter was preparing for her public exams, or the mother was sick, or the son had a school cricket match as the umpire.
Our garment workers get very agitated, which is perfectly logical, when some of their co-workers are sacked because they feel threatened. Especially of the persons shown the door are union leaders then the agitation is easier to organise. But then all hell is let loose. The workers of the victimised factory will entice colleagues from other factories, and thus they each become 'outsider' to the others. To protect the right of say five workers they will then go all out and break five factories, set a few of them on fire, and vandalise the premises of a few more. Did the sacked workers get back to the work floor after all that destruction? We usually do not find out because the media loses interest no sooner the fire is doused and the workers have gone home. Drained or victorious! The query remains unanswered.

One of the reasons I never want to become a VVIP, that is, a minister (full, half, or quarter) or a highly-placed government officer (servant), is because no one is offering me that sort of a status. But, in truth, I cannot see myself at pre-Iftar time sitting in a flagged or marked vehicle, travelling under police escort on the wrong side of the road when thousands of rozadars are caught in traffic jams in our major junctions across the city yearning as much as I to reach their near and loved ones in time for the Maghrib Adhan.
At public meeting speeches and television appearances, these wrong-side-walas will spit out their compassion for the people, some of who are now sat in the cars and buses, CNGs and rickshaws, looking forlornly at the vehicles speeding by on the other side of the road. There is inherent power manifest in such law-breaking because the police on duty will never stop a son of a tiger (read baagherbachcha). More likely, they will give the person supposedly inside the car a tall salute. We have seen police stopping cars that drive on the right (that is left) side of a road, but never the ones that brave the heat and the congestion to honk their way through the free side. That is it, the free side, the wrong side is free. Only our law-abiding bewakoof public do not understand.
By definition, every profession has a duty towards the public. Each profession is required in a society. That is why it is embarrassing when the armed forces personnel are labelled as deshoppremik, as if the rest in the country are traitors. It is derisory when any student is prefixed as medhabi, as if the already graduates are idiots. Most laughable is shawfol rajneetik being generally append to any politician because only 330 of them can find a seat in the parliament if they care to go there regularly. Such demeanour evolves from our national character of giving pump to a full blown ball.
Speaking of professions, we have witnessed one at loggerheads with the other. For instance, the doctors will stop treating journalists and the rest of the innocent population because they were misbehaved with. The media guys will start a damaging hate campaign against the medical people. Neither will die, and the only fatal victims are some citizens of this country. To protect the prestige (and we have a lot of that) of our profession, we will not hesitate to hold hostage the entire nation.
We are good at this, burning our house to kill the rat.

Published: 12:00 am Friday, July 11, 2014

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