Wake up and Grow Up Mr Bush and Mr. Blair
The author died on March 6, 2005, this article was written when she was undergoing treatment
Suffering from a fatal, aggressive disease which affects only 5-10 per cent of women worldwide (as my doctors informed me) and unable to do almost nothing about it, I have no choice but to watch TV for quite some time everyday. It is also the root cause of this article that I am writing with weak, trembling hands in the hope that, at least I, lying in my hospital bed, won't be mistaken for or targeted as a terrorist by Mr Ariel Sharon, the Bush Adminis-tration or Mr. Tony Blair. Whatever may have been the dictionary definition of the word "terrorist" in the past, now whoever disagrees with or opposes this trio is a terrorist. So, don't worry, many born or naturalised patriotic Americans and British citizens, even war veterans, may fall in this category. That also gives me the courage and the strength to write this article.
I want to start with a folk story of my country. In the good old days, the Rajah-Maharajahs of undivided India had many idiosyncracies; one of them was to keep some exceptionally idle, lazy people as their pets for their amusement -- somewhat similar to the fools in Shakespeare's plays. One such pair was "Peepu-Feeshu." Of course, those were their pet names which they got through an unusual incident. One day, while they were sleeping, the Rajah ordered his men to set fire to their room to see what they would do. Courtiers and people were watching with a lot of curiosity because now it was a question of life and death. The fire spread quickly and one of the men's back was burning from the sizzling heat and he with closed eyes, told his partner in a barely audible voice, "Peepu" (meaning in Bangla, "Pith Poore Jachche" or in English, "My back is burning"). The other man in similar fashion replied in the same code, "Feeshu" (meaning in Bangla, "Feere Sho" or in English, "Sleep on the other side"). At this point, the Rajah ordered his men to put off the fire, because he and his men could not be guilty of homicide in front of so many witnesses simply for the sake of fun.
I don't know why, but the present Iraq situation and Mr. Sharon's and Mr. Blair's attitude towards the matter reminds me of that old folklore. It also reminds me of some literary and movie characters I have seen and enjoyed in my life .... like the character of the French King "Dauphin" in Bernard Shaw's Saint Joan, the character of the Roman emperor Caesar in Mel Brook's History of the World of Adolph Hitler in a recently shown movie on Cine max and finally of the Three Stooges I loved to watch as a kid. Pardon me for comparing men of your stature, dignity and power with them but you see, as a student and teacher of literature, I am more concerned with the human, universal traits of characters, their psychological motivations, preconceived and received notions, caprices, inner and outer conflicts than the protocol or formulas of politics or international diplomacy. I hope, considering my profession and passion, you will leniently forgive me for this antic obsession.
Time is running out. Believe me, by reversing your roles and changing some traits of your characters, you may still do some damage control and change the course of the shameful history that has already started to take shape after your armies killed and maimed innocent children, women and civilians of Iraq in the name of uprooting the dictator Saddam Hussein (who in reality, was the leader of an independent, sovereign country), in the name of recovering WMDs (which according to impartial reports, only existed in your minds.... a sure sign of schizophrenia), in the name of teaching Muslim terrorists of the world a lesson and destroying them by destroying the Holy religious relics of a glorious past of the Iraqi people (about which writer Arundhuti Roy has written elaborately. And last but the worst, some of your over-zealous soldiers (maybe inspired by your fiery speeches and encouragement) tortured, dehumanized, sodomized and did such evil, cruel acts on POWs (prisoners of war) that any journalist's hands will tremble to describe them in words.
I do not understand why highly enlightened people like Mr. Bush, Mr. Blair and Mr. Sharon do not learn from history and why the proverb "History repeats itself" does not become obsolete.
Dear Mr Bush and Mr Blair, it is high time that you decide to give up your double standards. You have a history of occupying other people's (initially you called them Red Indians, now you have upgraded them to Native Americans) land and distorting the course of human history by claiming that America has been discovered by civilised White people in 1497. No wonder that the Native Americans still refuse to accept American passport! I do not want to lengthen this article by writing the glorious (!) history of your discrimination, racial segregation and lynching of the Africans whom you kidnapped from Africa and brought to America to work in your plantation in the South. It is indeed ironic that today just because you have all the world's military might, we have to hear speeches of rule of law, human rights and democracy from you and Mr. Blair.
(R) thedailystar.net 2006