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Gone with the
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 Most of the sentries have been withdrawn.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
'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
'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.
'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.'