With the gathering helpless compulsive rage
Of an addict unable to give up
Habits that turn cannibalistic,
I wonder who first invented this ghoulish ritual of reading
Newspapers while eating breakfast,
This potent potpourri of porridge and pain.
I delicately butter my high fibre multi-grain toast
As I gaze at the smashed body of a young child,
His blood and flesh smeared across the field
Like the bright red strawberry jam
I enjoy eating every day—
A single snippet of the daily dose of horror
Passed on as sacred beacons from bright young brains
Selecting the latest sensational scoops,
Carefully processed and prepared to appeal
To consumers of all appetites
And dutifully delivered to my doorsteps
By energetic muscles eager to make a fresh start
To a new day,
But its modern day twin,
Spawned by the wonders of technology
Serves up even more varied fare:
The newsfeed with its endless vampire offerings
Of blood and gore—burning and mutilation and ethnic cleansing
And lovely mouthwatering pictures of cakes and steaks and sushi
And bland tasteless selfies,
All washed down with a nice hot cup of cappuccino.
How skillfully I've learnt the art of escape—
Carefully compartmentalizing the personal from the public;
After such knowledge what forgiveness?
One has to cauterize the neurons that send messages
To the nerve centre of the brain,
Or, be swallowed whole
By the predatory politics of news production,
But a part of mind wryly comments
That mass repetitions of such daily rituals
Are a dark indelible ink stain
On the black and white pages of history.
Batool Sarwar is Associate Professor, Department of English, University of Dhaka.