roared in this man until a few hours ago, until this man died
in his sleep, right there in the empty half of the bed. He
did not have time to say a word, a whine or whimper, let alone
a formal goodbye to the woman who cooked for him, made love
to him, washed his clothes, talked to him, comforted him,
nursed him, raised his children and who was sleeping next
quickly people discard their bodies in death as if a band
of gypsies are in a hurry to go to the next place. And how
people take care of this body, do so much for its pleasure,
for its comfort, for the satisfaction of its urges to keep
it strong, beautiful and healthy. Yet how this body betrays
its resident and threatens to evict him, never telling how
long he could stay in it. How she spent her life with a carcass,
never knowing who lived there, never understanding the life
force that moved it, never realising how soon she was going
to lose it."
insights into human behaviour, nature and life in general
fill and enrich Mohammad Badrul Ahsan's A Good Man in
the Woods and other essays. Ahsan, a banker by profession
and writer by passion, has been writing the column "Crosstalk"
in The Daily Star since 2000. The book is a compilation of
the writings published in the daily over the years. The subject
matter is diverse, ranging from the feelings of a woman whose
husband has just passed away in "The Leprechaun"
to Bush and Laden to "The Night of the Lost Nose-Pins",
about two hundred Hindu women raped after a change in government.
a flair for detail. He describes with raw emotion and at the
same time, simplicity, everything from the death of a woman
who lead a life "abandoned by her father, pimped by her
husband and exploited by her lover" to "The Weakness
of Power". In the latter he cites Bertrand Russell's
argument that, next to enjoying ourselves, the next greatest
pleasure consists in preventing others from enjoying themselves,
which, more generally, means acquisition of power. But, writes
Ahsan, power has its law of diminishing utility, and that
the biggest challenge after taking power is to keep and enjoy
it. "It's indeed a weakness never to have power,"
he writes, "but it's even worse to have and lose it.
Long after the lights are gone and the stage is empty, the
show must go on in the mind of the once all-powerful. Because
it really needs a very strong strongman not to fall before
his own eyes even after he has fallen before the rest of the
in matter, from historical to topical, and rich in description,
Ahsan's writings bring a perspective on . . . perspective.
He observes things more passionately and more powerfully than
most people, yet, written down on pen and paper, the obvious
truth of it all hit's the reader like something that is easily
taken for granted.
like a coin, has a flip side to it, writes Ahsan in "The
Other Side of History". It's the historian's hand, which
gives it a spin, and determines whether the head or the tail
is going to win. There is a winner's side of history, and
then there is a loser's side of it. There is a privileged
side of history, and there is an underprivileged side of it.
There is a ruler's side of history, and there is a subject's
side of it. There is an oppressor's side of history, and then
there is an oppressed side of it. There is a gainer's side
of history, and there is a sucker's side of it.
of the many sides one can take on any issue dealt with in
The Good Man, what Ahsan really brings to every piece is depth
and insight that can only come from highly tuned senses of
observation and the compassion to feel what one's subject
is feeling, or rather, what it is possible for a variety of
subjects to feel under different circumstances. For readers
who have been drawn to Ahsan's column over the years, the
collection of essays is definitely worth a read, and, perhaps,
a place in the personal library.