The queer and the bizarre and the dark
THESE are ticklish times. You laugh even if you do not want to. But, then again, politics is often a set of conditions where some of the most queer and some of the most bizarre of things happen. Think of this: the ameer of the Jamaat-e-Islami claims in his nomination papers to be a writer. Now that is pretty interesting, especially when you know, or think you know, that you have not had much cause or opportunity to come across the words of wisdom he claims to be earning a living by.
Move on. The chairperson of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party has informed the country, again through her nomination papers for the parliamentary elections come December, that she is a self-educated individual. No harm being that, self-educated. Abraham Lincoln did not have much of an education and yet went on to assume immortality. That precedent is cause enough for us to accept Begum Zia's claims of self-education. But what we remain mystified by is what has till now been given out about her education by her acolytes. And there is the small matter of her birthday.
We do not expect politicians to be perfect, but we do believe they ought to be consistent, especially about facts that relate to them. The principle is the thing. Remember how only a few weeks ago an Iranian minister was forced from office because he thought he had a degree from Oxford. And Oxford University, much to our consternation, had nothing in its records about this remarkable man!
Move on, a little more. You really do not know if Hussein Muhammad Ershad will get to live in Bangabhaban again someday soon. That depends on a whole lot of things, the most basic being the question of the grand alliance his party is part of and whether the alliance does make it to power at the elections. But do you spot the intriguing here? Ershad has been informing us of late that the Awami League promised him the presidency after the elections -- and this was before this emergency bit and its ramifications came into the picture. That was fine, but shouldn't he have kept it to himself? Or was his revelation a matter of strategy, to force the Awami League's hand? Maybe the approach has worked; maybe the former dictator will ride back to high office in democratic manner. Who knows? Miracles never cease.
But there are more things on heaven and earth than miracles. Think of all the mysterious goings-on around us, right when we believe we are going back to government by the consent of the governed. A newspaper editor tells us, without batting an eyelid, why the chief of staff of the army ought to quit. You put the question, to no one in particular: why is he doing that? And then you find that there are other questions cropping up before you.
Have you noticed how some people, unhappy with their present conditions, are getting so indignant about things that they are even questioning the results of the 1970 general elections, the very elections that paved the way for the liberation of this country? And then there are the men who, deeply upset that the January 22, 2007 elections did not come to pass, try to peddle the idea that a conspiracy is underway to bring back Baksal into Bangladesh's politics. That, we guess, is what they say when they speak of selling the soul to the devil. In our politics, more often than not, Faustus has diligently been at work. You simply cannot shoo him away.
And one good instance of how the Faustian remains a part of our collective life comes through the depression and the anger some men deprived of party nominations have been going through. Many of them cannot conceive of life without a seat in the Jatiyo Sangsad and so they defiantly march to the local election office and proffer themselves as independent candidates. Kamal Ibne Yusuf, for example. Well, you really can't stop them. But how is it that they do not remember that there are such things as values in life, that you do not kick your party just because it has chosen someone else and not you this time round?
Speaking of values, there are all these so-called faithful going about with pickaxes and knives and stones and bagfuls of anger. Their nefarious purpose? To strike down aesthetics and to destroy beauty wherever they can spot it. These characters tore down the baul sculpture in front of the airport. And now they have tried damaging the balaka structure in Motijheel. And they do all these things in the deep nocturnal hours. Are we surprised? Not really. Men like these men, if you recall, murdered Bangabandhu in the dark. The Mujibnagar leaders were assassinated in the dark. All our coups have occurred in the dark.
And you speak of hope? Of elections? My dear sir, we are yet in the dark -- about what is to be, or what might yet be. The Lord have mercy on us! Amen!