2013 has been a heart wrenching, languishingly bad year; not only on my personal or social fronts but also as a citizen of an independent sovereign nation.
Politics with its ugly, distorted face and the politicians with their wicked games have managed to choke us citizens to near death. The lives each one of us is now living are nothing less than the sheer hellish agony we were warned about in scriptures.
You get out of the house to earn a decent living but come back losing it all; irrespective of your social standing. It doesn’t matter if you are a corporate big fish, a garment factory owner, or garments factory worker or a vendor selling peanuts at the corner of the street. How much you sacrifice or lose is directly affecting each one of us. If we don’t get paid for one month we don’t get to pay our bills or eat the next month. If we don’t work for a day our country’s economy will falter. It is not a difficult math; your savings will not take you far.
Then there are times you are not only sacrificing your material possessions but your precious lives too. Your car, motor bike, cycle, office building or shop gets smashed and gutted, yet somehow you will manage to re-pay your loans or beg insurance to rescue you. If your limbs are blown off or if you are bullet hit in sporadic terror attack, you still manage to find the mental strength to fight the trauma and stand up again. But if you get killed in senseless destruction than literally all is lost. And now it seems that death or dying on the streets of Dhaka is an everyday scenario. We have come down to that. Our lives mean nothing, our sufferings are not heeded.
I must mention that our resilience and our capacity to withstand sufferings need an award. You see everything we hold dear is taken from us and turned into a political circus. And like puppets we let them take control of our lives and our livelihoods.
We demand a closure to our deep wounds of 1971; look how messy it turned out to be. Amid all the political hocus pocus I feel that people who are against our independence are again gaining ground. Our emerging economy which has its foundations in our RMG sector and of which we are proud, is spiraling down and we seem to encourage it.
The need of the hour is to make sure garment factories ensure compliance and safety working standards. Shutting down the factories or tagging them as blood thirsty slave drivers and halting the economy is not what we need. We have to bring the owners to book, pressurise them to comply. We have to actually punish them by fining not by shutting them down.
We need to be with the teeming thousands of women garments workers who earn an honest decent living; we need to ensure their safety and rights, we don’t want them to be without jobs.
I have one say and one say only, I don’t want my Bangladesh’s future to be Hifazat-e-Islam. And I don’t want the young girls who work in the factories to die an untimely death and their murderers to go scot free; neither do I want our economy to stumble.
I am deeply shocked and hurt. Then again who cares if I am shocked or hurt I am nobody, and my government doesn’t care or respect my voting franchise.
Photo: Palash Khan