A nation bogged by pitiful pessimists

Illustration: Biplob Chakroborty

You have perhaps heard the tale of these two neighbours.

On learning that the son of the man living next-door got admitted to college, the grouchy sceptic said, "He'll not pass". But, he did. So, the doubter observed, "He'll not get a job". A few months later, the qualified son got a job. Now what? With a three-line frown across his forehead, the cynic observed gravely, "He'll not get his salary". At the end of the month, his pay was duly disbursed. "You guys are fools," said the serial loser, "He was not paid in full".

"But indeed, he was."

-"Some of the notes are surely counterfeit."

"He was paid through a bank account."

-"That bank will go bust."

"It's a nationalised bank with over 50 years of solid reputation."

-"Haven't you heard of Sri Lanka?"

You can almost not beat the pessimists, and there are some pathetic ones around us.

In the context of the last 50 years, they began by questioning the ability of our freedom fighters with "kissu hobe na", and are unabated till now by wondering whether southern Bangladeshis will ever switch from launch to railway when Padma Bridge is completed.

In the meantime, they had derided Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's resolve to go ahead with the 6.5km crossing after the World Bank had withdrawn funding against false (unproven in five years) claims of corruption.

Another case to study in human (mis)behaviour is scoffers being uptight before a flight. "I heard they are always delayed". Once airborne and on time, the worrywart will moan, "There will surely be delays on our return flight". Why so? "Arrey dosto, they do not have enough aeroplanes". That flight too was on time. Now what? "Well, we were plainly lucky this time."

Some of these sad guys will find everything wrong with a would-be groom. His body colour (how awful?) will not match with Pinky. He should have been a shade taller; how will Sitara wear heels? I heard he has a short temper; poor Moutushi!

When it was explained that the bride is perfectly okay with the guy's everything, the grumbler goes on, "I detest his father". On inspection it was revealed that the guy had a fling for someone in that family he abhors. It did not work out. Thank heavens!

The most recent cause for joy among the unhappy Bengalis, fanned by the opposition vote bank, is of course Sri Lanka. Unfortunate though the islanders are, their economy was hugely dependent on the tourism sector, which made a nosedive under Covid.

The enemies within Bangladesh have always grossly underestimated the potentiality, tenacity and determination of Bangladeshis. Throughout the pandemic, even under selective lockdown, our export-oriented garment and knit factories have remained in operation. Earning has been steady, despite which without any rhyme or reason, a selfish lobby is trying to spread panic and fear. Fortunately, not many people have the time to pay heed to their groans of despair, read frustration.

You may have noticed too that, deviating from past party-political partisanship, there are now several top-notch party henchmen and the lesser ones behind bars or undergoing trial. That could not stop the chronic critics, who are largely convinced that these are just showmanship.

When news breaks out of a corruption case and high-level perpetrators are named, they will say, this is nothing but eyewash. Amra ki bujhi na?

After the big-fish politician is arrested, the suspecting critics are sure he will be out on bail. No sooner is a bail denied, they are the source of a rumour that no trial is in the offing. The lengthy trial is again considered (by the know-alls) as only a means to let the powerful political parasite off the hook.

The news of his long sentence is viewed as tamasha because the Appeal Court will surely set him free. But, no! The honourable jurists have signed, sealed and delivered him seven years of imprisonment. Now what? "Oh, surely he will end up in hospital!" grumble the moaners. They are finally right. Most politicians, charged with criminality, first try to take refuge in the plea that they are victims of political harassment. Failing which there is always the comfort of a bed at PG.

From time immemorial, there is an immense amount of negative thinking in our society that has been crippling our nation. What is the way out of this quagmire of unconstructiveness? Easy-peasy, as it may be obvious, but the answer is not "positive thinking".

We need to cultivate tolerance, accept each other despite our political differences, which is prevalent in any country and is a health indicator of modern citizenship. It does not help to oppose for the sake of opposition; childish, you could say. We have to shun jealousy, assuming that praising the good work of an opponent will further the latter's career. So be it, for the sake of the country and the people. Let us educate ourselves to be happy for the success of others at all levels, personal, among groups, and nationally. For the other side shall do likewise, hopefully. If not, let us be the good guys. And, the magic will rub on, hopefully.


Dr Nizamuddin Ahmed is an architect and a professor, a Commonwealth scholar and a fellow, Woodbadger scout leader, Baden-Powell fellow, and a Major Donor Rotarian.


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