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     Volume 6 Issue 3 | January 26, 2007 |

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View from the bottom

Ator Ali is Bhagwat

Shahnoor Wahid

My friend Ator Ali Chakladar has gone underground. No, not literally, not in the sense that he has dug a hole and gone in like a rat. He would need a pretty large hole to do that. In fact he is bhagwat, gone in hiding since the political scenario in the country changed so drastically. The last time I have had a talk with him, before the change, he sounded quite hyped-up, as he had managed his nomination from the Royalty Making Party. Only a month to go and he would become an MP! The national flag would fly in his car! Ator Ali the Member of Parliament. Ah! How sweet it sounded in his ears!

So, one cannot blame Ator Ali for starting to sniff power. He already started to behave like an MP. Replying a salaam with a serious look on his face and not looking in the eye of the salaam giver. He talked very little and only nodded his head when people of his constituency came with lists of their demands to the future MP shaheb. He had placed orders for new sets of dresses to look like an MP, to match every occasion, like pajama and kurta for attending death anniversaries and going to the holy shrines; dark suits for formal occasions; lungi, fatua and chappal to go to his constituency and so on. He had bought two new cars. He would get another duty-free one after becoming an MP. And his wife had started to go to a gym to slim down. She had also given appointment to a female English teacher to learn how to say a few words in official parties.

But Ator Ali's dream came crashing down the day someone punctured the balloon that was taking him to a dizzy height. After the crash, he tried to contact the people who had put him on that balloon in the first place, who had sold some wild dreams to him in exchange of crores of taka. But they were nowhere around! Are they all bhagwat? Ator Ali became scared. He did not like those army and Rab vehicles patrolling the roads. He talked with his wife and taking one crore taka in cash in a small suitcase left home one night in lungi and shirt. He did not take his cell phone with him. He paid a handsome amount to his driver to give him shelter in his village home.

Ator Ali contacted me from his hiding last night. He talked in whisper. He wanted to know whether it was possible for me to ensure his freedom. He would not do politics again. He was ready to pay huge sums of money to get back his freedom. He could not stand the mosquitoes and the prying eyes of the women in the village of his driver. He missed good food, the aircooler and a modern toilet. He had no intention of doing desh sheba anymore. He thought jonogoner jonno jibon daan was not his cup of tea. He also thought all the talks of the politicians about working for the poor were simply rubbish.... hogwash....garbage. He also told me that in the last one week he has discovered that it did not make any difference in the lives of the people of the villages all around whether there was an MP in their constituency or not. They would starve if they did not find work. The middlemen were around to exploit their labour. They had to buy fertiliser at an exorbitant price. There was no diesel to run irrigation pumps. Hoodlums terrorised simple folks at the instruction of the political leaders. They lived in mortal fear of dacoits every night. Policemen raided villages only to extract money from the parents of the arrested young men. So, what has the MP done to improve the situation?

Before I could say something the line got snapped. I could realise that Ator Ali Chakladar was not happy in his situation and it all happened because he wanted to become a politician. But one chase has made him a wiser man. Now, he does not want to become an MP anymore.

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