on a Blue Afternoon
up the newspaper; Nasser did not look up, he just stared blankly
at the red Persian carpet.
an anonymous letter sent to all the major newspaper offices
yesterday, the so-called Harkat-ul-Zihad Al Islam Bangladesh
(HZAIB) has declared a bounty of Tk 10,000,000 ($16,66,666)
for young writer Nasser Hussain's head. In a fatwa issued
by Shaukat Osman, the militant outfit's chief, the group said,
"We, on behalf of the Muslims in the country, in the
name of Allah the most beneficial and merciful, declare writer
Nasser Hussain an apostate. It is now the duty of every Muslim
to kill him as our beloved religion tells us to do so".
otherwise coloured front page of the Star ran a black
and white portrait of Nasser, probably to make the news look
grimmer. Newspapers crave for and bank on morbidity, Shormi
thought as she read down further.
HZAIB, which is believed to be an umbrella organisation for
all religious extremists groups working in Bangladesh, in
a previous letter sent to the dailies, had told Nasser to
publicly apologise for his writing. The group had also called
the beleaguered writer to reconvert to Islam; Nasser had denounced
the call and had urged the group to shun the path of terrorism.
writer was attacked last week by a group of young men on the
Dhaka University campus; though the police have blamed it
on "unidentified muggers", many suspect the hands
of HZAIB in the incident.
writer could not be contacted for comments, as he was not
home ministry has beefed up security in the Banani area of
the city, especially around Nasser's home. But when contacted
last night, the police headquarters had refused to give us
any detail of its plan to reign in on the extremist group,
which is blamed for carrying out numerous terrorist attacks
in the country.
stopped reading, looked down at Nasser and caught him looking
at her face. She put her head on his lap. He bent down, kissed
her and said, "Baby I am so scared".
did not say anything; she kneeled on the floor, cupped his
head and kissed him. As they made love, a roaring locomotive
snaked through the rail-line that had curved past the mosque.
Inside the room, on the CD Sting sang on:
a little black spot on the sun today
It's the same old thing as yesterday
There's a black hat caught in a high tree top
There's a flag pole rag and the wind won't stop
National Revolution and Solidarity day today, a public holiday;
her Uni was closed, but they did not go out. Nasser lay down
on the bed while Shormi cooked. When she was done, Shormi
walked up to the bed and said to Nasser, "I haven't read
and said, "Don't. You might try to kill me after reading
it. Even political parties that deplored the stabbing, in
the same statement, said I wrote something regretful."
and said, "You don't know…"
"It's really funny, you know," he continued matter
of factly, "Even the so-called liberals believed that
the government did a pretty good job when the book was banned.
She had been thinking about this while cooking. The big political
parties needed general people's vote to win the elections;
and, Shormi had thought that they could spare one or two Nassers
or Humayun Azads to go to power. If public opinion ran swiftly
against Nasser-- which she believed was going to happen--
no one would give a damn about his plight. Votes were all
that mattered to Bangladesh's political establishment; the
socialists, she mused, were ready to make alliance with the
HZAIB if it meant a few seats in the parliament.
late in the evening; a grey light sneaked into the bedroom.
Shormi stared intensely at Nasser, who was reclining on the
bed, fidgeting with a jigsaw puzzle. Shormi heard the sound
of another rail wagon coming through as she leaped up and
sat on his lap. He tried to get up to kiss her; but she pushed
his shoulder down, put her head to his ear and softly said,
"It's my turn now to forget everything".
The King of Pain was on repeat-mode; Sting was saying:
have stood here before inside the pouring rain
With the world turning circles running 'round my brain
I guess I'm always hoping that you'll end this reign
But it's my destiny to be the king of pain
was rhythmic and steady, and shortly they had forgotten it,
the sound no more of an interruption than a consistent rain.
poured heavily all night. She almost freaked out when someone
called up and asked for Nasser. She wanted to say no one with
that name stayed here; but a sense of urgency in the caller's
tone had forced her to ask back, "Who has given you this
I am sorry. Dr Mizan of the Dhaka Medical gave me your number.
My name is Inam; I am a reporter, I work with the Star. I
want to interview him," he continued, "Dr Mizan
thought you might help me out."
(R) thedailystar.net 2004