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     Volume 6 Issue 27 | July 13, 2007 |

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View from the Bottom

The Begums of VIPs
(Very Imprisoned Persons)

Shahnoor Wahid

The Begums are not happy. After coming from remote Bariakanda and washing the mud from their feet they have been living in Baridhara for the last five years in great comfort. Very soon, they had become used to going to the manicurist next door in a huge Hummer and to children's school in a Lexus. They always wore plenty of gold ornaments during such visits.

They had become used to taking leisurely baths in the gold-laced bathtub and having lunch and dinner brought from a five-star hotel. They watched Hindi serials on 57 inch TV screens with their over-weight daughters and sons. They went to Bangkok to buy towels. They went to Singapore to get nose jobs. And why not? They are rich, baba. So you see, life could not have been any better.

But, one night, to their horror, they watched their dear hubbies hiding under the bed or inside an empty oil drum. Why are you hiding there? Asked the bewildered Begums. Before the hubbies could answer, men in uniform came in and took the hubbies away to oblivion. Crestfallen at the turn of events, Begums cried and wailed in the empty large house. They have lost their healthy appetites. No Hindi serials. No going to Bangkok or Singapore. They ran here and there in search of their beloved hubbies but everyone ran away from them. Then they organised press conferences and looked their saddest before the camera. But the media boys and girls kept giggling all the time. What an impudent lot, by God! No respect for the suffering humanity!

Then one morning more men came to the house and started to ask the sad Begums many questions about crores of taka, dollars, gold, whiskey, bank accounts, saving certificates, legal papers of apartments in Dubai and land in the country and so on. The Begums became very, very angry. How dare those commoners ask them such personal questions? Don't they know they belong to a separate class among the citizens? They are wives of VIPs (Very Imprisoned Person)! They must be treated with respect.

But the men in uniform do not have time to hear the stories or angry outbursts of the overweight Begums. They take them to court and make them stand in a dock. The judges do not have any interest in their VIP hubbies in jail. They are only interested to see whether the papers are proper or not. Papers are not in order. The judges are not impressed. They send the Begums to jail.

Now the jail authorities are in a predicament. The wailing Begums want better accommodation. They want to go to Hotel Sonargaon. They want to go to Bangkok and Singapore. They want pizza and ice cream. They want gold-rimmed bathtubs. They want 57 inch TVs.

Finally, the jail authorities sit down to solve the problem. It's something totally new they are facing. After all these are Begums of some VIP thieves and looters. They must be given better accommodation. So, they have gone hunting for nice houses with nice rooms for the Begums. It does not matter whether millions of honest women pass their nights in lowly slums. It does not matter whether those honest hardworking women merely eat to survive. The Begums of the VIP thieves must get good food three times a day at the expense of the public.

One of the poor women in a slum wanted to know why there was such differential treatment by the law. When their hungry husbands steal an old bicycle they get beaten up mercilessly by the police and the magistrate sends them to prison for three years. But a corrupt-to-the-bone politician gets three to five years for stealing 500 crore taka. When they get caught no one talks about getting better accommodation or food. Why everyone is crying hoarse now for the Begums of the thieves? The poor woman wanted to know how could one be called a VIP (Very Important Person) after having been charged with high degree corruption and money laundering and sentenced to prison?

cartoon credit: www.nevadaobserver.com


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