|Home | Issues | The Daily Star Home | Volume 5, Issue 5, Tuesday, February 2, 2010|
Killers on the road
We like to believe in there being a scheme to happenings of this world; a larger picture, a grand plan. Amid the chaos, it is comforting to believe that things happen for a reason. Motaleb Sheikh and Sonia Sheikh must now probably be painfully trying to decipher that very scheme. Their five-year-old and only son Hamim Sheikh was on Wednesday killed, run over by a bus while crossing the road in front of his school with his mother.
How does one respond when faced with such reality? Who to blame? For starters the bus driver. But does it end there? Will persecution and punishment of this one driver solve the problem? The answer, for any resident with eyes and ears is a resounding no. Are we to believe that the fate of the kindergarten student did not befall any other child before last Wednesday, perhaps that of a beggar woman's?
In a land where the criterion for obtaining a driver's license is a flat fee payable to BRTA, the current state of affairs is hardly surprising. Bus drivers, who hold the lives of passengers and pedestrians in their hands, may be no better than the average fifteen-year-old learning to drive. And of course that age-old chestnut known about law enforcement (read lack of) in our beloved country also applies.
It is a perfect storm really; the maddening state of traffic driving scarcely trained drivers wild, lack of proper infrastructure leading to people crossing busy thoroughfares, and lack of enforcement when those structures (overbridges, underpasses) are available. It's a credit to the resilience of the Dhakaite that the streets aren't littered.
It's too late for Hamim. Nothing can comfort his parents now; for them there is no scheme. Hamim though, does not have to have died in vain. Stories such as his should encourage us to push for change, and should frighten those corrupt into mending their ways and implementing a transparent system whereby unqualified and dangerous motorists are not allowed on the streets. That is the least we owe Hamim and the countless unnamed who have suffered a similar fate.
With Valentine's Day just around the corner, the television sets simply smirk at the sheer stupidity of the love busted. Just a rough skim through the channels and you are confronted with the inevitable soap operas, exuberantly embracing the one day dedicated to love and all that baggage that tags along with it.
The severely addicted gift shops adorned in shades of Russian Red and Pop Pink cater to the needs of the soul-drenched-lovers. Heart shaped, chocolate boxes are displayed on the counters wrapped in last year's Christmas sparkles. Companies use this opportunity to even mass-produce not-so-lovable love edition chocolates, Love Season's Specials as they are called.
By Sanjana Rahman
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