In memory of Khondokar Khan Jahan, student of BUET
Omar Rashid Chowdhury
I apologise. I apologise to you my departed friend. I apologise with my head bowed down in shame, my heart burning with grief, my eyes brimming with tears and my voice muted with sorrow. You dreamt of a life glowing with the glory of serving the nation, your parents, to be proud of your success. But now death marches triumphantly over the corpse of dreams. Now all that remains are suppressed sobs and painful sighs.
A fresher in BUET, you were filled with new hopes and joy. Waiting for the bus you were thoughtful about the drawing assignment that you have to submit next week. And then, in a split of a second all hopes lay scattered on the asphalt, bloody and broken. The beastly bus bothered not to look back at the disarray. Azimpur stood as a silent spectator amidst this grim toll-taking of Dhaka, the damned city of death. Khondokar Khan Jahan, batch 2009, Department of Mechanical Engineering, BUET, remained only as another name in the list of lives lost in the Luciferic lust of a lumpen city.
The only son of a retired government official, Khondokar finished his higher secondary studies from Khulna. As a student gifted with an analytical and innovative abilities he got admitted in BUET, competing with more than 6000 other students. The long days and nights of toil and tension came to a glorious end as the test results were published.
In this cursed city of death, doom, destitution, destruction and darkness, all hopes that bloom out to the sun are killed, all dreams that take shape are crushed and all lives that lead the nation are lost thanks to the inhuman arrangement in this cruel city. And may be it is easier for us to face the rogue side of Dhaka than the tear-stricken face of a mother. Yet Khondokar is only a repetition of past events that left us horror- struck and grieved. Lives have been lost in similar accidents. Shahbag, Kakrail, Mirpur, all give testimony to those ill-fated events. Aniket, Nirmal Sen, now near-forgotten-columnist, appealed for the guarantee of a natural death decades ago. Today, that guarantee is as forgotten as him.
Who is to be blamed for these accidents, the callous speeding frenzy of the drivers, the virtually non-existent traffic management system, the absence of the last iota of human conscience or a system indifferent to human lives? It is a shame to the nation that after about four decades of independence, we have failed to create a disciplined traffic management system in the capital city.
These untimely deaths are not only losses to the family but a great loss to the nation as well. Safe drinking water, safe food, all appear to be fictitious. Now the safety on roads is at stake too. Is it really impossible to enforce a certain speed limit for the vehicles while wealth is being wasted on shopping malls, decorations, fashion shows and concerts? While an actor struggles to aware the nation of the safety on roads the lords sit idle. Or, is it only the outcome of the overwhelming, all-encompassing inconsideration to human life?
There can be no compensation or condolence for a mother who has lost her son. There can be no measure that can relieve the nation of this loss and shame. The only thing left for us is to ensure that no more innocent, precious human life is lost on the roads; no more dreams should be crushed in vain.
Classes will start at eight in BUET on Saturday. The university will be filled with the enthusiastic hum of the new comers. Yet one seat, the place beside one roll number in the attendance sheet will forever remain vacant. It will remind us of a face, not bright with joy anymore, but with sad, questioning eyes demanding justice and fairness. Do we have the moral standing to face those eyes? My friend, we apologise. But we will try, not to face a grief-struck mother, but a ruthless, inconsiderate arrangement.
(The author is a student of the Department of Civil Engineering, Batch 2008, BUET )