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     Volume 11 |Issue 35| September 07, 2012 |


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One Off

Perhaps a Very Naive Concern!

Aly Zaker

Culture or reference thereto naturally confronts me on any discourse of consequence these days and I was having a chat with two most brilliant young Bangladeshis the other day on it in a wider context. We were talking about intellect, books and stuff related to letters. All of us agreed that there was a tremendous absence of book shops in the areas which were most affluent in the city we lived in. This was regrettable. We always thought that buying and reading of books was more possible for the affluent than for those who struggled to make ends meet. We know that there is no dearth of money in the areas like Gulshan, Banani, Dhanmondi or Baridhara. The swanky houses, eateries, shopping centres, cars and lifestyle here almost matched the affluence in any well off society anywhere. Yet, there is a paucity of book shops in these areas. Opinion was expressed, almost as a consensus that money had run in to wrong hands. The moneyed people in today's Bangladesh were not people of letters. And if an uneducated society was full of money it could well be dangerous for the whole community. Armed with money and with very little brains the people might turn predators and go on a rampage, intellectual or otherwise, as would seem natural for irrational animals. In fact the signs were already there. They were unabashed 'show offs' of things that modesty dictates literate people to conceal. We see, therefore, that given a suitable situation they are out to announce the cars of rare breed that they owned, mansions that they proudly lived in, holidays in sought after destinations that they frequented.

They are hardly interested, most of the time, in the society or the country they belong. That there is a vast majority of people living in this country who are beyond the confines of their world is hardly of any consequence to them. Rain or shine, flood or cyclone, loss or achievements of this God forsaken country does not, in anyway, touch their lives. In social get together we held in announcing that they are not bothered what happens around them as long as they can dispatch their children to far away well-off places where they could have a cushy life forever.

When, in our conversation, we had almost given up on the future of our country now full of people like the ones I have ventured to describe above, one of the young ones, a woman, pointed out that may be all was not perhaps as grim as we thought they were. She said that these people were bringing in affluence to our society albeit at the top level of it that trickles down to the bottom, making the country affluent. These wealth-seekers had, by their enterprise, come out of the feudal values of our society and started a journey on the road of industry to a society that thrives on the dynamic business and promises a well-off future. A consensus was reached at the end of the conversation that matters of intellect could always be sorted out later, may be after a couple of generations, once the children and the grandchildren of the nouveau riche of today emerged to the helm of affairs armed with proper education and enlightenment. This may not happen in our lifetime. May not even happen in the lifetime of our children but verily our grandchildren would see a new educated and enlightened class of Bangladeshis emerge to the challenges of the future.

I was convinced by the logic of the young ones. Because with their education and intellect they could, perhaps, see a lot more in to the future of this country. But at the end of the day I was not quite sure if I was still very comfortable with this almost fool proof logic. The thought that kept lingering in my mind was that what happens in the interim? Do two generations of human kind become sacrificial lambs at the altar of financial leap-frogging? And when, ultimately, we arrive will there be someone to receive the goodness of a thoughtful and logical life?


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