As we draw closer to pulling the curtain on 2019, it is an opportune moment for self-analysing ourselves.
We are mostly a nation of all-knowing, bragging, complaining, doubting, egoistic, fanatical, gossiping, hot-headed, insensitive, jealous, keepta, lying, meddling, nosy, oily, petty, quarrelling, romantic, selfish, turncoat, ungrateful, vainglorious, wasteful, xenophobic, yielding, and zzzz... people.
Thankfully, the alphabet is only that much longer, otherwise there would have been more illustrations of our illustrious character. Don’t try this in Khmer (Cambodian) language. They have 33 consonants, 23 vowels and 12 independent vowels.
Tune in to talk-show TV channels for a week to meet our “all-knowing” intellectuals, whose expertise range from onions to beauty queens. Sometimes appearing in two slots in one evening, they juggle with Angela Merkel’s Brexit and Suu Kyi’s impeachment.
They are also regular “braggers”, sending text messages about coming on television, lest you are deprived of their punditry. I wonder if Donald Trump would stoop so low.
We thrive on “complaining”, for instance, about foul odour in the neighbourhood after dumping last week’s food garbage on the side opposite our front door.
Someone else’s success is incinerating, but more so a “doubtful” attainment, achieved surely by means other than talent, effort and dedication.
We live on this side of “ego land”. I do not talk to cows. I slaughter the biggest cows. I eat only huge cows. I am the biggest...
“Fanaticism” is best portrayed by those changing allegiance, which is okay the first time as an act of rectification, but seasonal swaying to political winds is an aspersion on one’s rectitude.
“Gossip” here travels faster than the ghatak deserting a disastrous union. We are more often interested in breakups. Tiffs among siblings, and loud exchanges between partners are our food for thought, and sleepless nights.
Heated up, we bang the table. “Hotter” still, we leave a party. Totally red, we will become violent. All of that because someone made a derogatory statement about a loved one—a singer perhaps, a foreign actor or the local Ward Commissioner.
Some of our more “insensitive” journalists are laughable for popping up the koti-Taka question in the most awkward of situations, such as to the wife of a badly-injured husband, “What is your onubhuti?”
It is human nature to be “jealous” for a whole range of reasons, but our hypocritical charm allow us to be grudging of even those who we manage to congratulate after their achievements.
Being stingy, read keepta, has nothing to do with poverty, for some of the poorest have hearts as big as the ocean. It is about not sharing even when one owns a bank.
As if we did not have this trait before, but the mobile phone has enabled us to practice the vice of “lying” in 4G. Being in Shahbagh, we claim we are at Mohakhali. “Having dinner at Radisson Blue” maybe another way of saying “we are home alone”.
“Meddling” and “nosy” are two sides of the same coin, causing similar discomfort. However, meddlers actively participate in matters that don’t concern them, whereas the nosy ones live to smell the crap.
Among the “oiliest” Homo sapiens are the hobu Jamai trying to win over the prospective Amma-in-law. From the perspective of being voluntarily greased, our bureaucrats are clear winners. They all have a towel on the back of their chair.
He was invited to the wedding by an SMS or an email, but some of his friends were also called by phone. Promptly, mountains were made out of “petty” hills.
Resistance to illogical demand can lead to conflicts, as can envy. The scope to “quarrel” is endless, enthusiasm boundless.
Our “romantic” commentators can pen a poem to celebrate a lone goal against seven consumed by Bangladesh. Losing by eight wickets has also brought out the bard in us for a batsman just reaching double figures.
Children, even young students, would die before betraying their friends. Yet, “selfishness” breeds exponentially with age. Riding on self-interest, adults do not hesitate to become “turncoats”.
Fanciful migrating children, who should be building their own country after completing their education abroad, and those who dump their parents in briddha asram could be equally branded “ungrateful”.
We are a unique people who can boast even in defeat. A “vainglorious” politician can be heard saying, “I lost because only the people of my high intellectual level voted for me”.
Keeping the tap running, the lights on, piling food that we do not care to finish or cannot, endlessly providing unsolicited advice, are all “wasteful” acts.
While singing songs of equality, tolerance and praise for mankind, the “xenophobia” in us comes to light when we mock a foreigner in Bangla in his presence. And, most embarrassingly, some of them understand the slang, but not our attitude.
A people, as unyielding as in 1971, soon had some from their kind painting the Pakistan flag on their cheek at a cricket stadium. We also “yielded” at the recent BBPL opening with Indian artistes shaming our culture, unless we have collectively embraced, “Sheela ki jawani…”
Zzzz ... Sleeping with our eyes open is a common malady. Any matter remotely uncomfortable, or something that may benefit others at the cost of my time... it’s sleeping time.
Those who are exceptions to the above, please raise your hands. There you are, 160×2 million hands have been raised. Children and babies were assisted by their elders.
Dr Nizamuddin Ahmed is a practising Architect, a Commonwealth Scholar and a Fellow, a Baden-Powell Fellow Scout Leader, and a Major Donor Rotarian.