Question of Time
glorious past travelling through a promising present toward
a formidable future.
is not a sentence originally composed by me. It is, shall
we say, an adaptation of a similar sentence written by Jawaharlal
Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India, on the river Ganges.
He had imagined Ganges to have done the job, bringing the
past to the present and able to carry it across to the future.
Nehru was a great believer in the past. I remember having
been overwhelmed by his narration of the world chronicle
in his "History of the World Civilisation" at
the impressionable age of fourteen. The way he took pride
in being an Indian--the India that had one of world's oldest
universities--the great university of Nalanda. Incidentally,
this university was also graced by a Bangali scholar from
Bajrajogini in Bikrampur. A gentleman by the name of Sriggan
Atish Dipankar. I remember having seen an almost innocuous
road in remote Kamalapur named after him. A road that leads
you to the Buddhist monastery there. As if Atish Dipankar
was only a monk. As if naming of an inconsequential road
was an adequate honour for him.
Atish Dipankar is perceived in such a limited connotation,
is in itself a logical indication that we in Bangladesh
would, probably have very little, if not at all, to do with
history. Good, that! For, if we did, we would probably not
be very pleased. Because there are possibilities of our
being plagued by questions we do not wish to address. It
transpired the other day when some politician had said in
an international convention of the historians that we should
bury the past and start from the present. This alone, the
politician said, can assure us of a bright future. Ignorance
is bliss! More ignorance is more bliss!! Therefore, tearing
away from the past may seem expedient to some people notwithstanding
nation wants, to the best of their abilities, to own their
past because every nation, generally speaking, has some
past of significance. I remember when Greece had presented
its case to be considered as a host to the World Olympic
its main selling point was that it is Greece where the Olympic
was born. And after being awarded the opportunity to host
the games, their slogan was “Olympic comes back home”.
we were within Pakistan and were constantly reminded by
the Pakistanis that we Bangalis were all Hindus and idolaters
because our food, our culture, our social customs, our day-to-day
behaviour and, above all, our heritage smacked off idolatry,
the power that be in Pakistan were busy marketing their
historic sites of Mohenjodaro and Harappa to the world and
took enormous pride from the fact that they had a glorious
past. Islam wasn't intimidated by this 'claim to fame'.
Communist China never shied away from bragging about the
great wall built during the Ming dynasty.
obvious that a nation enriched with the glories of the past
can hope to have a future worthy of its heritage. Strange
though it may seem, since the gruesome political massacre
of 1975, we have been told of a new beginning of the history
of Bangladesh with the ascending to power by every new ruler.
History of Bangladesh began anew with the drop of a hat
or bat of an eyelid. As a result, though twenty-nine, we
are still a moronic toddler! Someone along the line has
to come to terms with the fact that if a nation remains
perennially infantile it is bound to grow up as a retarded
child in the comity of nations. The signs of that retardation
are seen, all over.