From back gear to front
Week after week I kept on writing. I could not write everything that came to my mind. I had to filter much of it. I thought I was clever. But to a trained ear I sounded different, almost strange. I thought no one would notice that I was afraid. But in truth I was.
The inevitable happened. One morning that began fine, but was sullied, I received an email from a reader. I woke up, mortified, crestfallen. She said point-blank in a few words that she knew I had my 'limitations'. She said she understood. Women usually do.
Those who run anything in this country also have this audacious notion, that no one will notice; that they alone are capable, clever and competent... Masters, PhDs, BCS, LLB, MBBS, ETC, CheeCheeChee, PCE... almost every letter in the English dictionary has been taken, in triplets mostly. The last one means 'passed class eight'. But, despite being duped for decades, people, especially in large numbers, i.e. the mass, can smell a rat. They always have. Altogether now, inhale. Hey! There's a traitor.
Who is he?
Is he an individual? Could he be the editor of a newspaper? Is he the chairman of the bastuhara samity? Or is he the man in charge of a thana? The managing director of a private clinic is a right suspect. Higher up, is he the suited-booted so cheap? A montri perhaps…
Who are the mass?
The viewers of a TV channel… The members of an association... The students of a university... The people of a mahalla... The farmers... The garment workers... The mass in general, 'the source of all (human) power' we so loosely pronounce at every meeting of like-minded corruption-prone group, party, community.
What are we afraid of?
We are fearful of being ridiculed in public, privately it never mattered. We are scared of upsetting a mentor, a desi one by birth, or a global formidable force when in trouble locally. It's all about going to or holding on to power--social, political, administrative, economic, and physical. We are troubled that our relatives may be left out. We are worried we will lose money that does not belong to us. We panic that our act will be caught. We are frightened of losing authority and control, although we will not hesitate to say in public that only He decides.
The educated teacher is petrified by the politically appointed principal. The principal also has his fear spots, all human. He is also scared of the students when his role has been exposed as partisan.
The garment factory owner is losing sleep because his bed made of money belonging to his bokeya-suffering workers is not comfortable.
The samity savapati is shaking at the thought of the local MP because the latter's finger movement, known in Bengal as onguli hilano, can move the earth below his feet; Richter scale reading 7.0.
The TNO does not think beyond the Deputy Commissioner. The DC is talking everyday over telephone with the secretary, not so much for his local development needs as to the latest information about his promotion/transfer/extension. Sir.. sir…sir.. chaar…, but still the secretary does not leave the phone. Who does not like to be pampered?
The sachib is giving full concentration to the minister, so thinks the bhola minister, not necessarily from Bhola. Only the former knows how to utter the butter to send a superior to the gutter.
The montri is afraid of the prodhan montri. And rightfully so! For his only qualification is that he somehow fell on PM's nek nazaar.
The above ladders are true for any organisation in this country. We have to remember that a ladder is used for both going up and coming down; depending on which end we choose.
We say mockingly we are organising our aakher. But, if truth be told, we are just worried about surviving in the present.
Such a dangerous and suicidal-for-the-country situation has come about because there is no respect (read application) for the rule of law. The Acts and Ordinances and Rules that exist in writing do not usually matter, the man at the top most often does. It should be the reverse. Only then the country will move in forward gear. The people, 'the source of all power', have a miraculous way of doing just that every few years.
You are right. I am still afraid of insanity prevailing over common sense.
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I am always fond of your writing. The way you cordially pinch is no doubt awesome. Although it's easy to criticise, but who shows this kind of dare? Keep everybody aware with these relaxed and diplomatic columns. Best wishes forever.
Toms. [21 March 2008]
Tensito? Is that me? Explain, brother. It appears you may have something up your sleeve. Please reveal! Thanks for writing though. Best regards. Chintito
Yeah brother only you. No doubt it's an Engla (English + Bangla) form of your identity. Many thanks for your reply.
In a nutshell, you are so infectious! And that is prompting me to ask you several things. I was quite happy when Prof. Muhammad Yunus received the Nobel prize. Later, I was surprised when he announced his desire to be involved in politics. Now I am completely mystified regarding his Grameen Bank's vagary operation in New York. The bank has so far distributed US$ 50 thousand among the grim poor (if truth be told… I cannot digest it) there. The vision is to make another $17.5 crore within the coming five years. I feel good since a local bank is spreading its operation outside, but is this ethically accepted while we are still requiring large funds for the Sidr-affected areas. The government along with several NGOs and many voluntary organisations are still working. Ergo, am I wrong if I say that we deserve more peace than the grim poor of the richest country… the richest city?
Shuvo [23 March 2008]
This my first message to you. I'm worried (chintito) about the Bangladesh cricket team. What do you think of the Bangladesh vs. Pakistan cricket series? I think you are cool.
Tousif Rahman, BIS, Ashalota, Dhaka [24 March 2008]
What will be the future of Bangladesh, I don't know. All we want now is a good parliament with good parliamentarians. Yesterday my younger sister read a paragraph on “A great leader”. It started with 'A great leader is a man who possesses high qualities of humankind. The high qualities are honesty, patriotism, determination, liberalism, selflessness, etc'. It made me laugh. I wonder whether we will find someone who is even close to that paragraph. I don't expect a Bangladeshi leader to possess all the good qualities of mankind. I just expect that the leaders will at least honour our laws, reduce wastage of public money and ensure an endurable corruption-free society. This minimum standard would be a far cry for us. They will again oil their own businesses, encroach on public wealth, repress the opposition parties, sell the gas or coal field in exchange of a BMW or Pajero jeep, set free the prisoners, put away money into overseas bank accounts. I have a question: Is a great leader born or is he created by the people? If born, we will be watching the sky for the heavens to send him down on our land! If a leader is made by his voters, then it will be our responsibility, whether we vote knowingly or unknowingly. What will be the equation? I have an answer that might be appropriate for us. “Amader shey chele kabe hobe, kothay na boro hoye kaje boro hobe.”
Mohammad Anisur Rahman
Abdul Gani Road, Pahartali, Chittagong. [24 March 2008]
The last line of Anis' letter can mean “When will we have that child, who not in talking but in his work shall be big?” That is for the benefit of our non-Bangla readers. C
Dear Mr. Chintito,
I started reading your article about two years ago and I doubt I have missed any since then. You are very articulate and your writings are full of facts with humour. Could you please tell me why our honourable Justices felt embarrassed to judge the killers of Bangabandhu? In the USA, there are instances when Judges felt embarrassed, as they found their presence could influence the trial, although their role in the whole trial process is nothing but presiding and conducting the trial in an appropriate way. The jurors who come from the society are the ones who decide the fate of the trial. However, what barred our honoured Judges to try the killers of the 'Father of the Nation?' Were all the Justices related to the declared killers of Bangabandhu?
Mamun Ahmed, Las Vegas, NV, USA [28 March 2008]
In the case of Bangabandhu I can assure you Mamun that justice delayed will not be justice denied. The killers will have to pay for the heinous crime. Thanks for being with SWM. Regards. Chintito
I was doing some chinta on the cleaning of our Parliament building inside out! The ACC is in the process of cleaning the inside, so let me make some suggestions for the outside. The backside has now become the 'chatpati chattar'. You are not allowed to park your car but the phuchkawallas have permanent parking there. They even have chairs for the customers. Can something be done to have a cleaner look! The front side is a great place for the morning walkers. But, come evening, the fairies descend to compete for a pickup. Please comment whether I have the right chintadhara.
Farhad Mansur [26 March 2008] (Abridged)
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