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May 21, 2004

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give us a


"Something is rotten in the state of Denmark."
Marcellus in "The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark"
-William Shakespeare

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 : A
ct ­ V, Scene ­ 1 : William Shakespeare)


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