The red frock
A news item published last Tuesday is not meant to happen in this festive season. But it has.
A 10-year old girl has taken her life. She has severed her ties with all of us, tie as a parent, tie as a relative, tie as a friend, tie as a human being and tie even as member of the animal kingdom.
All that the little girl wanted was a frock for Eid. And that her unfortunate father, a rickshaw puller, could not afford. A father is a father. A daughter is a daughter. It does not matter how rich or poor.
Those reading and not reading this, if only they knew before her death that she simply wanted a dress or she would end her bond with humanity (Hah!), there are tens of thousands of us who now would each give her a very beautiful dress, perhaps a red one. They always go for red; in death too. But this kind 'mass thought' comes after she has retired hurt. Only she will not return to continue her innings.
She was very hurt. How can a father not be able to afford a frock? He loves her not, she concluded. All the other fathers are buying frocks. How will she show her face to her friends? Was she taunted? Children are sometimes very cruel to their peers, but that is not an age of reason.
If only we knew. We would send her a red dress. Have you ever heard a statement so hollow?
There are so many like her around us now, living, breathing, bubbling with life. Some of them even surround us at the traffic junctions, in market places, at the gate of our homes. They want a red dress, a red frock. Just like the red of our eyes.
I received an Eid card last week. It is not the only anonymous card that I received or will before Eid.
The card was pretty on the outside. Inside me the feeling was not that great. The person who sent me does not know me in person. He has never seen me. He is the CEO of a business house and in no way ever will I be in any position to be interested in his product.
The card would be priced at around Taka 25, then there is postage, and above all the man hours behind it, including the time taken by the gentleman to sign it, making each card worth around say Taka 100, or more. That's just one card. He must have mailed hundreds, judging from his long list that included distant me.
There are thousand others who mail out thousands of similar cards to strangers with no link to their industry.
While the intention of a company is to advertise when they send out such cards, but with a little more thought they could perhaps avoid this sort of wastage and possibly divert their resources to buy some girl a red frock.
The natural argument here is that the companies are already distributing a lot as zakat and otherwise for the poor, and that they have a budget for everything. But who said we can't do more by saving more from wasteful spending. If indeed our wealth was that equitably divided, the father would not have lost her little girl.
The markets are full of people. The goods are sparkling under the lights. People are coming out of the shops with more than they can hold in their two hands. Has anyone seen a little girl begging for a red frock?
Some of them will not. They have their pride. They are human beings, after all.
There are many others who pester us round the year. We shoo them away, little knowing that we will want to give each of them a dress after they will have bargained that with their life.
Surely we have given our fitra, and perhaps even more, surely more. But do we not see that that is yet not enough to bring smiles to many others, to make a man feel like a dutiful father, or to save a life ten years old?
There are many of us who this Eid will purchase more than we need. Some dresses we will not have the opportunity to wear even after Eid-ul-Adha. Please let us not forget the other side; unfortunately that is what we have created.
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