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<%-- Volume Number --%> Vol 1 Num 108 <%-- End Volume Number --%>

June 6, 2003

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Gone with the Wind


Received this email last week:
'The national flag had been lowered. Like every other morning I stand on the balcony to watch the sentry raise the flag. This is a different morning. Most of the sentries have been withdrawn. It's an eerie feeling for I have never been in this house without a flag.
'I never told this to anyone; but when the sentry did raise the flag I always stood at shun. It also gave me some practice when I happened to be a Chief Guest in similar flag-raising progra-mmes. And there were plenty of them. Today also I stand at attention. But the flag pole is now barren. A feeling of emptiness is creeping into me.
'There is no rush in the mornings. I regret I used to grumble as people flocked into my premises every day of the year and filled all the run-down sofas in my waiting room. There were two; one for the common people and another for the not-so-common. My PA used to start ringing my bedroom phone from seven in the morning. I used to get so annoyed, having slept at three in the morning. They would not give me time to even complete my morning essentials. Omuk has come for this, tomuk has come for that, they want me to be chief guest there, they want me to
'Now I go to bed after watching BTV's Late Night News, in case there is any message for me, or per chance they show an old picture, not an Uttam-Suchitra magnum opus, my picture. And now I have all the time in the world to do my morning essentials. But somehow I do not get the satisfaction.
'People of the neighbourhood give listless glances and funny looks as they pass by my house. They cannot see me looking from behind the bedroom window curtains. I am sure some of them give muchki smiles at the overnight turnaround of my fate. It is unfair! But I do not want to talk about that today. It is too early. In my profession there is nothing known as sesh katha. To be fair to the neighbours, however, I have to get a pair of binoculars to make sure. What dush-shahosh! Such disturbing thoughts make me huff and puff inside my bedroom but for the wrong reasons.
'The telephones have also gone silent. They do not ring on endlessly any more. It's a ghostly feeling. People like us thrive on telephone calls. Yesterday they took away their sets. To tell the truth, I now have only one telephone, my original. Don't misunderstand me. I also spoke the truth on all other telephones. As a matter of fact, I do not remember when I received the last call. The number is known to all and sundry. But no one rings for fear of being dubbed my man. So sad! People can change so fast, in fact almost even before the announcement was made.
'My situation is such that even my driver dares to ask me directly for his leave. Byata! I recall the time his grandmother died in the village. Although he had been driving me around and sometimes there were only the two of us in the car, he made his verbal request for leave to attend her last rites through the APS of the APS to my PS. That was because I made sure there was a system in everything. The process took so long, and these PS and APS people were also overburdened with work, that by the time I granted him leave, the lady was already buried. I told my driver, there will always be a next time. You see, I am not the unkind sort.
'I therefore now have to usually do my own driving. Oh my God! What shambles our roads are? And it takes hours to reach from one place to another. Why cannot they solve a simple problem like this I have no idea! Why yesterday I had to wait in a jam presumably because the police were holding up traffic to let someone pass. Atrocious!
'Consequent to me being driverless, I now also have to do my own bazaar. Ugh! The markets are so dirty, no drainage! The air smells of rotting animal waste, and decomposed vegetables and fruits. You have to tiptoe over the sludge. Despite the terrible environment I go to these bazaars because it gives me the opportunity to keep in touch with the mass; something that I could not do when I was too busy with my office work.
'The items on my dining table are not as varied as before. Previously raw fish and vegetables, cooked meat dishes, desserts, fresh fruits and juice (local and imported) were filing into my house long before breakfast, lunch and dinner. Wherefrom they came I never questioned. That they would come I never doubted.

'Who am I? I am an ex-minister!
'P.S. (No, not my PS, you silly little devil!) I now seriously have to consider applying for my membership in BAPEXMA (Bangladesh All Party Ex Ministers Association), that has already been formed and meets clandestinely, I am told. I am particularly fascinated by two of its objectives, (1) to prevent ex-ministers from being harassed and arrested and (2) that everything done by a minister was done in good faith. Who dares say ex-ministers do not have brains? The association is unable to come out in the open because they cannot decide who will be the first chairman. There is already confusion as to who is the founder of the association. Maybe if I hurry, even I can lay a claim on that.'


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