Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home   |  Volume 7, Issue 24, Tuesday, June 12, 2012


Ls Editor's Note

The other side of car windows

Fatima and Reba used to sell flowers at Sonargaon crossing. They've been stationed there for almost a decade now. I know this because the two made me their everyday patron on my commute to work at Kawran Bazaar from Kalabagan and back.

Their shabby, dirty appearances couldn't hide their cute demeanour; I took to the vivacious chatter of the girls, hardly a year or two older than my own daughter, and looked forward to their company while waiting at the signal, day in and day out.

I actually bought them clothes and trinkets every Eid. I remember one Eid day I made it a point to treat them to ice cream. I cannot exactly describe the feeling that I had for these two street children but it was certainly love of a different kind. If my daughter was with me in the car they gave her free candies, so you can understand the level of familiarity I had with them. Yet I never for once asked them to leave their vending jobs and live with me, for they once mentioned that they do what they have to do just to fend for their father's ever growing brood.

Anyway, this is a story from eight long years ago, I changed my residence and went to Uttara and my route changed. I never saw them again and for obvious reasons their memories got shelved in some corner of my overly cluttered mind.

By some stroke of luck or maybe a freakish coincidence I met Reba the other day while I was stuck at the Bashundhara signal. She grew a little, was selling lemons and stuffing chewing tobacco in her gums. She came running towards my car and said she missed me and asked me where I had gone. How was my daughter and the rest of my family? While catching up she informed me that Fatima, the relatively fairer among the two, had died in childbirth, that her rogue of a husband remarried and their orphaned child too is peddling lemons; all this within a span of eight years.

I am no stranger to the kind of life these street children live; I know of their ordeals of getting past their adolescence, I know of the exact juncture in their lives when they lose their innocence and have to deal with life at its rudest end. Yet I was shocked to hear of sweet little Fatima's sad demise. The destiny and reality of their lives is hard for me to come to terms with.

Again the snug bubble that I live in was burst; I really can't help any of these children or change their lives. No matter how conscious a citizen I am or how much I abhor the State for not doing anything right for street children; Fatima remains a reality. I wish her peace wherever she is.

These are some unpleasant moments of life when you do want to buy those flowers or candies or lemons for no reason at all and help a Fatima help her father and his brood to live here in a Dhaka slum.

-- Raffat Binte Rashid
Photo: Sazzad Ibne Sayed

Reading Bites

Cars, cars, cars
Engines of Change by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Paul Ingrassia looks at the history of cars by giving epic tales of different personalities. The author looks at how cars have changed over time to reflect people and world events -- energy crises, trials, etc. -- in the U.S. and beyond.

Dealing with a washed up human head
Colin Cotterill's mystery book “Grandad, There's a Head on the Beach” follows former crime reporter Jimm Juree, who in the middle of an island in Thailand must deal with a human head that washed up on the beach. Having just lost her job, while it's sad, this could just be a story that she's been waiting to cover.

$10,000 Burger
This week, the Huffington Post food section features the world's most expensive burgers that will surely burn any wallet. The list includes burgers with ingredients that range from truffle oil, aged sauces, to a portion of Jamón Ibérico de Bellota, a rare Spanish ham from "free-range Iberian pigs, which feed almost exclusively on acorns during the last period of their lives."

Men's Summer Look
Esquire magazine takes a good look at men's fashion in “100 Days of Summer Style”. Watch out for relaxed suits, mother-of-pearl buttons and the summer's most popular colour: non-navy blues and moss for men. Also include tips and reasons why men should get on the style wagon.

Invisible texting?
Engineers in Germany are working on a new motion sensor product, ShoeSense that allows users to control their phone through gestures, even when the phone is stored somewhere else, reports Bloomberg Businessweek (“How Your Shoe Can Secretly Help You Text”). Mounted on your shoes, this will allow you to text, make you free of offending your family at dinner or coworkers at meetings.

The gadget is a motion sensor that, indeed, mounts on a shoe. Facing upward, it allows a user to control his phone through hand gestures performed at midriff level, even when the phone is still stored away in his pocket.

Vatican City and criminals
Much attention has been on the Vatican these days after the arrest of Pope Benedict XVI's butler, Paolo Gabriele, for leaking information to an Italian journalist. Brian Palmer at Slate Magazine discusses the Vatican City's justice system compared to the rest of the Western world, like how there is only one earl jail and no jury trials (“How Does Vatican City Deal With Criminals?”).

Hazards of the airport
Elizabeth Cutler makes a comical documentation of how hard it is to be healthy at airports, of all places (“Hazards of the Airport Include Rows of Snacks”, the New York Times). She gives an example of frequent business trips where normal diets go out the window because somehow, 'it's ok' because we're travelling. It includes suggesting not-so-successful tips, like walking around airports to burn the extra calories (with your heavy carry-ons).

By Olinda Hassan


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