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     Volume 5 Issue 112 | September 15, 2006 |

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Dhaka Diary

The Smile of Freedom
Almost every day I go to a grocery store to buy regular items like bread and eggs and often I come across a little boy who hangs around the shop. He is about six years old and is clad in a pair of dirty black shorts. He never has a shirt on and looks quite uncared for but everytime I see him he gives me this lovely smile that only children are capable of giving. Sometimes I buy him a cake and a drink or a bag of chips. He always accepts them very cheerfully and gives me that precious smile. I feel ashamed that I cannot do anything for him - take him to a school, give him a warm, loving home -things that he truly deserves. Instead all I do is give him a paltry treat that finishes all too soon. Sometimes I think, what if I took him to someone's house where he would have a roof over his head, three meals, some clothes and who knows, maybe even the opportunity to read and write. But if I am honest to myself I will realise there is no such household that I know of, where he will be treated with dignity, where he will be loved like a family member and where he will be just a child, not a little slave who does the work of an adult. What will happen is that he will be given leftovers to eat, very little pay and worse, regular doses of the employer's wrath. When I think of all that I realise that this little boy is far better off this way - in his unkempt, direction-less existence. He is, after all, free. That's why he can still give me that wonderful, unadulterated smile.

Careless Developers
I always thought Dhakaites never responded to anything that happens on the streets. But, I was proved wrong when a middle-aged hawker came forward to protest an incident that occurred the other day. Debris from a newly constructed multi-storied building in Gulshan was about to fall on my head. I was leaving my office walking down a sidewalk beside a multi-storied building. All of a sudden, a load of brick fell in front me, leaving me utterly shocked. Just then a roadside hawker screamed at the developer in protest. It was indeed a serious fault which could have cost me my life. I thanked him for expressing his grievance and wondered how many passers-by become victims of such negligence. I'm beginning to think that surviving in Dhaka City is quite a miracle.

Diary from Chittagong
A Bitter Experience

Last Monday I went to one of my tuitions and showed my student the Star Weekend Magazine as I do every week and asked him whether he knew about the demise of our great poet Shamsur Rahman. But his reply was very unexpected. It seems that their English teacher prohibited them to pray for the poet because he was a communist and an 'infidel' who will have a place in hell. I was wordless and filled with anger to hear such an uncivilised comment made by a teacher. I could not teach that day. I simply requested my student to tell his teacher to pray for those who had helped the Pakistanis in 1971 in killing more than 30 lakh people. That would definitely clinch a ticket to heaven!
Shakawat Hossain
Govt. City College


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