Conversation with Monisha
swimming the other morning in the lake adjacent to the Mirpur
Zoo. Routine stuff for a Tiger (ahem! that's me and you, but
don't tell Australia, South Africa, Canada and the rest of the
pack just yet). As I stroke my way into tranquillity, out of
the morning haze I discover that a lioness is swimming besides
me. Not to worry. I was properly attired.
I greet her between strokes. I thought it was good manners.
Besides in our culture the weaker one always gives salaam
first. Sometimes the stronger don't even care to respond. 'Halooooom',
said she coyly. All girls look pretty when they smile. She was
different. She looked breath taking. Yet she was not as laid
back as one would expect a lioness to be in her own backyard.
come here often?' I try to strike a conversation.
really. This is my first time', she said as she looked over
her broad shoulder.
come? Where do you live? Who else lives with you? Do you like
ice cream? Vanilla? Are you married?' I fire away like any male
does when he finds himself alone with a lady in a pool for the
first time. The second time is different. She may not even turn
up. 'I live in the Zoo over there, but could no longer tolerate
staying behind bars with the situation in the country getting
hotter and hotter day by day. So here I am.' She is so graceful
in the water.
am not the one to let a lone lioness have her way. Not me, Sireee.
So I swim a few lengths apart, as if out of respect for her
ladyship, and ask, 'Exactly what do you mean by the situation
in the country?'
Tigers (giggles) are pathetic; fighting in the House, fighting
out of the House.'
that's us. It's almost like our national identity,' I manage
to but in.
call this democracy? A university professor getting slashed
for some book he wrote? Even animals don't do that.' She is
now visibly upset.
you realise your newspapers are full of accounts of people being
killed everyday for political vendetta and personal vengeance?'
She was incensed even in the cold morning water. And I am not
comfortable with any female who is in that sort of mood.
was relentless. 'You are now bashing up journalists for writing
what they see?'
sometimes they make up...'
a photojournalist? Does a photograph lie? And don't give me
that crap about Adobe Photoshop version 7!'
was beginning to wonder who this woman was.
at your markets; you pay any amount the shopkeeper asks for.
You don't even bite back.' I think she meant fight back.
at your roads. All BBB -- build, break and billed. It takes
longer from Uttara to Gulistan than from here to Bangkok.' There
was steam around her.
a close look at your administration. You can't even pay your
bills without a bribe. Getting one without one is impossible.'
She was fuming.
being abducted...' She was unstoppable.
being collected...' She was like the monorail planned between
Dhaka and Chittagong to provide cheap transport.
being killed for not meeting the demands of extortionists...'
She was exasperated.
now I am swimming underwater, not out of curiosity but out of
disgrace. I could see the bood-boods of my many buts
there was silence.
thought she needed to catch her breath. But on surfacing I discover
the calm was because she was biting her claws apparently to
keep her from roaring.
had her reason to be quiet. 'I don't want to get caught. Not
after saying all this'. She said finally, looking apprehensive
for the first time.
decided to take such a bold step all by yourself'. I try to
sound angry and concerned all at the same time; any male's first
really. My boyfriend Bengal and I decided to elope together
and do something for the country.'
think because he is too fat he got caught in the grille. This
is the problem with shahebs. All talk. They can't even
open a rusted grille.' (DS 02.03.04)
I take some deep breaths on discovering her socio-politico-marital
plans, I wanted to say, 'Why do you have to have a boyfriend
who is fat?' but manage to utter, 'What exactly were your plans?'
don't think Monisha wants to discuss that,' she was brusque
and swam towards the shore. So that was her name. I liked her
style. In this day and time, you should not trust everyone,
especially not someone who is shivering on a warm sunny morning.
I wanted to introduce myself but before I could decide whether
I should begin with my surname or my first, she was gone.
her someone in the adjacent village ran through the wall of
his house, which unfortunately the papers next morning blamed
on Monisha. All she did was get under the shade of a tree and
take a breather.
some rough-looking guys came and shot a tranquillizer dart into
her. Monisha was not hurt that bad. But knowing her the few
minutes before I knew this was only her pretext to get back
to Bengal, until the next time, until the next sunrise towards
suddenly dawned on me: Will they maim anyone who tries to do
something for the country?