give us a
"Something is rotten in the
state of Denmark."
Marcellus in "The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark"
Of all Shakespeare plays, I think, Hamlet is
the most well known. It is better known as a great tragedy.
Perhaps the greatest written by Shakespeare. Many of our readers
must be aware of the story of Hamlet. It centres on the killing
of the king Hamlet (father of the prince) by his own brother
in cahoots with the queen (mother of the prince) and usurpation
of the throne. This gives rise to an eerie and uncanny atmosphere
in the mediaeval kingdom of Denmark. The spirit of the dead
king emerges in the darkness of midnight and reveals the heinous
conspiracy of his brother and the queen and asks his son Prince
Hamlet to avenge his murder. The line from Hamlet quoted above
is spoken by Marcellus when Hamlet is beckoned by the dead spirit
of his father while the Prince, his friend and the guards wait,
in a beastly cold winter night, for the spirit to appear. This
is a play, like many other plays of Shakespeare, that tells
us about the palace intrigues, treasons and conspiracies that
engulfed Europe of the by gone days.
Out here, in the modern day Bangladesh, some
call it a State in distress. Some others say it is an unliveable
country. A senior citizen once asked me "would you call
it a failed state?" After nearly thirty three years of
becoming independent, that too through a bloody war, where have
we, the innocent mortals, erred to deserve this? One can embark
upon a political analysis, debate and so forth to talk hours
on end. It really doesn't matter to us. If I may be allowed
to be a little more insolent and harsh I'd say: we don't care!
Let me quote a few head lines from the front pages of the recent
issues of The Daily Star to put things in perspective. "Outlaws
slaughtered in Chuadanga" (May 1), "Extortionist dies
in Vigilante beating" (May 3), "JCD leader beaten
dead over toll demand" (May 6), "Cops urge people
to help Bangla Bhai/another die in the hands of gang" (may
7), "Five killed in city/ two friends shot dead in Mohammadpur"
(May 7), "Awami Lawmaker gunned down at rally" (May
8), Tongi lurches into virtual battlefield, two killed, (May
8), "Bangla Bhai active for 6 years/ His outfit spreads
tentacles to establish Taliban-like rule", (May 13), "Woman's
body in 9 parts found in Shyamoli" (May14). These are only
a few from only one daily near at hand that I could collect
while writing this piece. If I wanted to go beyond murder/killing
etcetera and endeavoured to take a look at other misdemeanour
happening in the last few days, I am sure; it would have become
a big fat book.
We are a democratic country and, hopefully,
shall remain that way in the foreseeable future. We have also
been claiming to practise democracy since 1991. All these we
have been claiming but where I feel we went wrong is that we
never bothered to seriously learn what the democratic norms
are. Therefore, our party in power and the same in the opposition
have been maligning each other with most undemocratic vilifications.
We have developed the habit of using most tact less and uncivilised
language to speak about each other. Not only that, when the
most dastardly acts of annihilation of human beings is going
on unabated, we are least bit bothered to even look for the
real culprits and the genuine reasons for such acts. We are
either saying that it has been caused by intra-party feud of
the opposition or the party in power. It is as if we, the people
of Bangladesh have sent to the highest citadel of power and
law making some infants who would squabble and giggle most of
the time without even an iota of knowledge about what they are
meant to do. Given the confines of the space I am permitted
to dwell upon, I might only say that we have taken enough and
we can take no more.
I would be failing in my responsibility if I
do not take this opportunity to thank our Prime Minister for
committing to bring to book the culprits connected with the
killing of Ahsanullah Master irrespective of PARTY AFFILIATION.
We shall anxiously wait for this. But sorting out one of the
many crimes that plague our society is not enough. There should
be a minimum common programme on which all parties will have
to sit together and agree on. And our minimum common programme
at the moment is genuinely minimum. Just bring the terrorists
to book. Otherwise, I can only see the fate of Lady Macbeth
following our political leaders fo like a ghost whichever sex
they belong to.
Lady Macbeth : Here's the smell of blood still:
All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand.
Oh! oh! oh!
(Macbeth : Act
V, Scene 1 : William Shakespeare)