Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 3, Issue 46, Tuesday July 04, 2006




Modern day kids

The kids of today are different. Different than you and I were. They are more into songs, movies, cable TV, computer games and fashion.

A little boy of class two went up to his grandma and declared that he was in love. Stunned his granny asked him a few questions. The young man had all the answers. His so called love was pretty with a heart shaped face, a year younger to him, lived in Dhanmondi and he even had her phone number. How did he know so much? Apparently the gentleman had jotted down everything from his beloved's school diary. Wow!! A Romeo in the making!!

Guess what a 7 year old girl demanded from her uncle going to Calcutta? She did not ask for a doll or a toy. She wanted a ghagra choli (An Indian dress which consists of a long skirt and blouse). “Mama, Kareenar moto pet kintu dekha jetei hobe” said the little lady. (My tummy should be seen like Kareena, the Indian actress.) A fashion diva has already been born!!

These things may make us smile now because of the age group of these children. But little do they change through time. We chatted with a lot of children studying in English medium schools. Almost all of them knew when and what Valentine's Day is. Most of them had a girl friend or boy friend and the majority were into the latest styles and trends. When asked which subject they found the hardest, a very large number said it was Bengali. These children were not only from the junior classes but teenagers giving their O and A levels as well.

How a language one has been hearing from the womb can become the hardest I cannot fathom. It seems Bengali is the language these kids find difficult to read, write and even speak. Unfortunately though, it was not all Shakespeares that we were talking to. I mean their English needed much improvement as well.

What shocked us most was when we found out the General Knowledge of these children. They had no idea about the history of our country. They knew almost nothing on how our country was born. How much people had to suffer, how much sweat and blood the nation gave. How many mothers lost their sons or how many children will never see their parents again. I repeat, most of them knew almost nothing and there was no thirst or eagerness to learn either. The so called future generation knew not when or what Independence Day is or what Victory Day means to the nation. They were not familiar with “Ekushey February” or “Bhasha Andolon”. The thoughts they held in their minds were vague and some of the answers we received were unclear.

These children will go abroad or into private universities. Some of them will become doctors, get their MBAs, or will specialise in Computer Science and so on. They will get good jobs in NGOs and MNCs. But they will not know about the History of our country and will not learn to love their nation.

I often ponder about which school I shall send my child to. Will she grow up and not learn her Bangla or not know her English? Will she turn into a young woman with no knowledge about the country's history and no respect or love for her motherland.? I certainly hope not. As a parent it is my duty to teach her and she will go in a school that will tutor her about the past of her country. She will know and love her mother language and respect and worship her motherland.

By Syeda Shamin Mortada

My memorable years spent in Africa

Early in the morning I packed medicine and extra outfits for my little ones and we set out to see the famous Table Mountain in Cape Town.

Cape Town, South Africa's second largest and mother city is awfully beautiful with its aggressive facade of concrete high rise buildings and serpentine curves of pillarborne freeways. Here huge business blocks occupy the gently sloping shore of the sea. The first man who climbed the Table Mountain was called Saldanha and his eroded sandstone grandeur still dominates the city. The huge plantations of pines and eucalyptus beside the seashore are simply charming. On our way we passed the Liesbeek River the habitat of the hippopotamus. I was amazed by the beautifully decorated seafront lawns and the seawater pools crowded with young visitors. I heard Cape Town becomes a Mecca for myriad holidaymakers in summer.

As we passed through the city, I noticed that Cape Town is basically a port city of South Africa. We rode on the aerial cableway, which took us to the Table Mountain within five minutes. Table Mountain was crowded with people from different nationalities and there was an unusual but beautiful restaurant inside a rocky cave on the top of the mountain. The view of the bay from the top was just superb and exotic. On its Atlantic side the rocky spine of the Cape Peninsula plunges steeply into the sea. There were wild flowers here and there. We spent two hours on top of the mountain and then went to see the nearby Hout Bay beach. This Hout Bay beach is known for its colder water and here the sun sets a bit late than other places so people prefer this beach for a suntan rather than swimming.

The next day we decided to stay in the hotel to swim in the morning hours. It was a three-in-one swimming pool; one small pool for the toddlers, another deep large one for the adults and a Jacuzzi for relaxation. While I was in Harare, I used to swim in a particular swimming pool for a special reason. I always went there wearing slacks and a t-shirt as my swimming costume instead of the proper swimsuit. And to obtain such a facility everywhere was unthinkable. In Cape Town, I thought I should try to persuade the pool manager earnestly.

At around 10:30am we all went to the 20th floor where the swimming pool was and my children along with their father went into the pool in proper swimsuits. I went to see the pool manager and told him that I was dying to swim; he told me, ”Yes sure Ma'am, please go and enjoy your time.” I told him, “ I came to you for a special favour. As Muslims we are not aloud to wear swimming costumes, if you can accommodate my religious rules and allow me to go into the water with my slacks and T-shirt, only then can I enjoy. And please don't say no because I know you can make it.” He said he would need five minutes to talk to his boss. To my surprise he came back with a happy face and told me that they had no objections but it might be difficult for me to endure the embarrassing stares and comments that other swimmers would pass. I replied that I was confident about my lawful behaviour and nothing on earth could make me feel like a wrongdoer in this particular field. So, without wasting a moment further I thanked him and dived straight into the water with a big splash! No one passed any comments but they did look at me with amused expressions and when I looked up I saw that from almost all the floors of the hotel, visitors were looking down to the swimming pool with surprised expressions. It made me feel stronger than before and gave me complete satisfaction because I did not have to follow each and every rule set by the western people. After 15 minutes I went to the Jacuzzi to enjoy the warm water and stayed there for almost half an hour.

On the 5th day of our stay in Cape Town, we planned to go to Sun City for a day and then leave for Botswana. On our way to Sun City we saw the Cape of Good Hope and that place is where the waters of the Atlantic and Indian oceans flow side by side but do not merge. The colour of water was different on each side of a perfect line that separates them.

Sun City is a multi-million rand luxury oasis and pleasure dome surrounded by a semi-desert and the scrub-covered hills of Bophuthattswana. Here the pleasure hungry tourists especially the Europeans come to enjoy its magnetic web with sparkling blue water, and Palm-shaded Island. The evenings in Sun City become alive with clicking roulette wheels and croupier's cries. I liked Sun City's extraordinarily beautiful architectural landscape and paradise island. At night when I was inside the casino playing Jackpot or roulette, I forgot momentarily that after sometime I would have to return to my normal working life leaving all these ecstatic moments behind. All I can remember now is that the South African people have created an artificial heaven here on Earth.

Beside Sun City, the “ Lost City” was being built in 1992 and it was incomplete so we could not see it then. When I went back to Gaborone after such a wonderful holiday, I felt holidays are the best way to give an individual renewed strength and vigour. In 1993 we came back home for good as my mother-in-law fell seriously ill. We had no other choice but to leave our jobs and return. My children found it very difficult to leave behind their friends and neighbours. I end my memoir of Africa saying that it was very difficult for us to return as we had made ourselves perfectly comfortable there, forgetting that it was not our real 'home'.

By Suraiya Zafar



home | Issues | The Daily Star Home

2006 The Daily Star