One Year of Inspiration,
One Year of Crazy
Saad Adnan Khan
My editor thinks I am an idealist. Well, I would not disagree with her completely. She would often look at me, frustrated and ask me to dial down my 'idealism.' "Enough with the idealist, let's be realistic now," she would say like a parent. By that, she merely meant that I should be a much more careful writer.
I have always been an impatient writer. I could not care less about grammar. I always wanted to get down to the story. That turned out to be quite problematic for my editor, and rightfully so. She would then sit with me and point out the drawbacks. We would work on the language, the sentences; we would make the writing more compact. I remember her once telling me that my writing sometimes can be 'Kaat-khotta,' (crude) because I often forget to use connecting words. You see, to run a magazine, one needs to be quite ruthless. It is not a 'soft' job, contrary to popular belief. My colleague and friend, Bushra, will give you a detailed explanation (in another article of this issue) of how my editor, team members and I literally procreate a magazine every week. But it is also true that my editor gave me a lot of freedom-- to explore, to investigate, to ask questions, to think and most importantly, to bear with my own craziness.
It is a risky thing to write features. It involves having opinions and expressing them in a way so that everyone understands. It is scary because as soon as you do so, you put yourself in the public realm. Your private thoughts become public properties, and that is why you have very little privilege of saying something wrong or stupid. You have very little privilege of making mistakes. We not only write features, but reports as well. In the last one year, Star Campus came of age. We wrote on campus violence and politics, and expressed our anger and resistance. The connection between the private and public universities has always fascinated me. I believe a good writer is someone who writes about things that people do not want to think about, or often forget to think about. I also believe that a good writer is someone who writes about things that are on everyone's minds. And by writing, the writer connects everyone together. I wanted to write about things that everyone knew about, but didn't talk about. And also about things that everyone wanted to know about.
An interesting spotlight I worked on was 'Introduction to women, gender and sexuality studies.' I got some very positive responses after I wrote this story. As I made small talk and introduced myself to a woman I did not know from before, at the Hay Festival in British Council, she recognised my name. "Didn't you just write an article on gender and sexuality studies?" I beamed! I found immense pleasure writing about 'dangerous' things. I also wanted to write about young people who were doing some amazing jobs in their own ways. That is why, when I wrote about Sajid Iqbal's 'botol-bati,' I thought, 'Now this should inspire people.'
Inspiration is something that has kept me on my toes to write the stories I did. I have met some amazing human beings in life, who have inspired me. I thought that in these dangerous times, maybe our readers could do with some inspiration too. The non-violent protest at BUET by the students inspired me. These students, with no mob mentality, meaning no harm to anyone, wanted to remove the three students who beat up Eshan, the graduating student of batch 2006. I was inspired as I took part in their protest and spoke with them. Evan Ahamed Katha, the transgender cultural activist is yet another inspiring human being I have come across. Katha, with her non-violence and creativity, wants to remove stigma and hatred that the people of this society hold for the transgender community. As I went to her abode in the underbelly of Dhaka, I wanted to extract her story. The non-violent movement of the non-government primary school teachers was another moving story. The teachers were beaten by police as if they were terrorists. They kept protesting non-violently, until their demands were met. My last spotlight was on the education system and students of madrasah. The idea was to dispel myths about madrasahs and write about some of the recent improvements in their education system. It was a hit! These stories, needed to be told. I believe stories like these change the way we think and act. The biggest inspiration-- all these people were ordinary individuals you see every day.
After reading my story on gender and sexuality studies and also after talking to me, one of my friends from BUET came out to his best friend. He said it was the right time. A girl from York University, Canada, read my story on madrasah and emailed me. She said that she wants to work with the madrasah children and get involved with projects to improve the madrasah education system. I got her connected with my teacher who is working on madrasah education projects. As you can tell, for me, inspiration (whichever way it's working) trumps grammar any day.
DID YOU KNOW?
Journalist Benjamin Crowninshield Bradlee was born on August 26, 1921 (today is his 91st birthday!). Bradlee attended Dexter School before finishing at St. Mark's School. Thereafter, he attended Harvard College. He received his naval commission two hours after graduating in 1942, joined the Office of Naval Intelligence and worked as a communications officer in the Pacific Theatre during World War II. His duties included handling classified and coded cables. The main ship on which Bradlee served was a destroyer, the USS Philip. He fought off the shores of Guam and arrived at Guadalcanal with the Second Fleet; his main battles were Vella Lavella, Saipan, Tinian, and Bougainville. He also fought in the biggest naval battle ever fought, the Battle of Leyte Gulf in the Philippines. He made every landing in the Solomon Islands campaign and Philippines campaign. Ben Bradlee Jr is a former deputy managing editor of The Boston Globe.
Information Source: Internet