Home  -  Back Issues  -  The Team  -  Contact Us
     Volume 7 Issue 20 | May 16, 2008 |

  Cover Story
  One Off
  Human Rights
  Food for Thought
  Dhaka Diary
  Book Review

   SWM Home


Information to Rights


Many years ago on a night ferry crossing from Aricha to Daulatdia, darting slow-mo in the darkness, the ripples of the mighty river flattened by the wintry season, I could hear the breaking voice of an old lady narrating her just completed empty visit to Dhaka Central Jail to visit her son languishing without trial what was then already for several years.

We were on the same boat. Not quite. She was the mother. I, merely a passenger, was travelling but in a different direction. She must have returned to visit her son; I assume she did because of her age. I returned to Dhaka. Her agonizing, complaining, angry and helpless words disappear in the wind though they have haunted me since. But, can you even imagine the state of her imprisonment?

It is not uncommon to read about persons being kept behind bars, away from family, friends and free air, for years and decades. Can you even imagine the pain?

It is one thing for a criminal or a political prisoner, fully aware of the reason for his internment. But a person who knows more than anyone else that he has done nothing wrong, but is behind the high walls because of perhaps ignorance of the police, or messed-up identity, or worse, if that is possible, it indeed is, the power of his/her enemies.

Suddenly there is a bright piece of news in the papers. A benevolent legal body had discovered a wretched man and was able to get him released after 15… 20...25 years in jail. He has grown old. He has spent the best part of his life away from his near and dear ones. He missed TV serials that ran for seven years. He missed coverage of three successive Olympic Games. A national cricketer had his debut and had retired. The nephew he knew was coming is now a teacher in the village school.

He has been freed, if that is freedom, but what punishment is there and who will punish and how the forces and the hoodlums responsible for the crime, more heinous than for which the guilty are often jailed? The innocent man, astounded by a SIM card he had never seen, has no information.

There are so many different types of business and profession. Many are like frying fish with the fish oil. A reader recently wrote saying he was not at all fine because although he was a non-earning person he had to manage pay orders or bank drafts for sending his CV to potential employers to face an interview. That's the only way he could keep on trying for a job he desperately needed. That's his job, looking for a job. Some even retire from that position.

He went on applying to different offices and post boxes along with the money they asked for. He most probably begged or borrowed the money while all the while not at all certain whether he would be called for the interview he applied for. He is not called. He thinks they thought he was not qualified. But he was. Maybe there were thousands of applications and his one was trampled in the bin, unopened.

But the advertisers were reclined on a comfy cushion, getting for sure a certain amount of money from many, thousands possibly, applicants like him. Was it not unfair? He is not sure. He only wants to know. The educated applicant, puzzled by such deceit, has no information.

Last week the visiting US Assistant Secretary of State Richard A Boucher said the United States would not accept any deviation from the path to parliamentary polls here by this year-end. (DS 10 May 2008) Not accept?!? That is in the least outrageous. Who are they to accept or not accept any deviation from any of our path?

Actually when you are powerful, individually, collectively or as a country, you lose your foothold on the ground and that can make you utter nonsense, even if that be the truth.

Boucher's only hope of getting out of this diplomatic guffaw is to claim that the press reported him wrong. There has been a serious shortage of words in the past among US diplomats, but this one somehow our entire press corps missed. Possibly they were too concerned about the Americans' position on the role of military, and so were not bothered when a slap landed on the face.

Maybe the visiting secretary should have said, the USA will not consider the elections in 'Byangladesh' as having been held freely and fairly, and without intimidation, if they take place with a state of emergency and ban on political activities still in force. Why does he not change his speechwriter?

I mean the USA may not be able to get into Myanmar to carry out relief operations after Nargis because the military junta there will not allow them as long as Nobel Prize Winner Aung San Suu Kyi is under house arrest. That is acceptable to them and deviation from our elections, let me repeat loud and clear, OUR elections, they will not accept. Come on! He does not have the right to say that. Or does he? The eager voter, thankful that the elections will be held one week before the New Year, has no information.

Chintito Letters

Do you know why I am chintito? I am chintito because on 1st Baishakh, I saw someone who resembles everything of my ex-best friend. I would rather say she is the best friend I've ever had and will ever have. But somehow I lost her. She resigned herself from my life. I don't know why she deserted me? I saw the girl twice at the same book shop in Chittagong. When I saw her I was simply overwhelmed with the memory of my past. I know that God doesn't create two persons with the same appearance. The way she walks, the way her hair was blowing against the wind, the specs she wore. I mean whatever this girl did matched my best friend. At that moment I lost my conscience. I just followed her blindly until she went home. I longed to tell her that "You are the clone of my friend whom I failed to keep. Can you please take the empty place of my friend?" Chintito, my appeal to you is that I know her home, now should I tell her that she is my lost buddy?
<>Thanking you, Hoq (16 April)
Dear mentor,
Extremely sorry for late response! In fact, during that time, I tried to adopt the habit of writing 'you' instead of 'u'. Now, I write 'you' even when I write to my friend.<>

You are concerned about some mistakes which seem to be trivial to some extent but for which we have to pay a lot sometimes. I can remember I had to struggle to write 'you' instead of 'u' in my last midterm exam.
However, I would like to draw your attention to a very important issue. You know, we are ignoring our own culture nowadays. Our culture is becoming westernised day by day. Please be a little bit 'chintito' about it. Wish you a very successful Bangla new year- Shuvo Noboborsho. Best Regards.
Mushfique Wadud (16 April)

Dear Sir,
I want to inform you that, Chittagong University has become a risky place for students. The party people can do anything against the general students. Even the police are also afraid of the cadre. The department and the faculty remain silent. The cadre behave as though there were no guardian. So what can we do now? (17 April)

aro ek bar bachte iccha kore
aro ek bar mukti juddho korte iccha kore
aro ek bar deser jonno jibon dite iccha kore
aro ek bar kadte iccha kore
aro ek bar sujog pete iccha kore

I am 22 years old but every now and then I wish those wishes for me to make the amendments that our ancestor should have done but couldn't do it. Wish I had a chance, just one chance.
Ashiquzzaman Kiron (18 April)
The future is your chance at your feet Kiron. Go ahead and do it. Be prepared and you will get your chance. Chintito

Dear Chintito
This my first message to you. I have seen that most of the people in our country enjoy Pahela Baishakh in a delightful environment. We are completely Bangalee only on this day. But after Pahela Baishakh we return to the western culture again. I am very chintito.
Ehteham Tareq, Islamic University, Kushtia (19 April)

Dear Chintito,
I am going to appear at HSC examination this year. I m a new reader of 'The Daily Star' but I have already become a great fan of you. Your every writing gives me much pleasure. I eagerly wait for your writing in the way an ant waits for sweets! You are writing continuously without gettingtired. And you like poems and you r also a poet. Your writing attracts me like a magnet! I want to write like you. Please give me some suggestions. Thanks for the article "From back gear to front".
Mintu Deb Nath (21 April )

I am a regular reader of Star Weekend Magazine. This is the first time I am writing to you. I am worried (chintito) because of present high rocket price. The country is passing through a silent famine. But the business adviser said that it is not famine, but it is hidden hunger. What is your opinion in this regard?
Nurnobe. Dept of Bengali (22 April 2008)

Dear Chintito,
What will I say to you? You are a genius (ginish). I am not giving you butter or oil like "montri" for getting some "nek nazzar" from the editor. But really it's true that after reading your brave articles every reader will wonder where our position is. We remember that "A ladder is used for both going up and coming down". But how many persons sitting on chairs know that? They know just one thing: the use of the ladder is for "going up" not "coming down". The most interesting thing is that now they don't use the ladder as lift or electric stair is available. They have not enough time to do things slowly. Yes they are PCE (passed class eight). But they are our honourable "montri". They have more prestige. They know very well how have to organise their own "aakher". I would like to especially thank "Chintito" for some artistic Bangla words like (montri, mahalla, desi, anguli hilano, sir..sir..chaar, aakher...). We are lucky because we know about that. But they are wretched, as they do not know these awesome Bangla words!
Nipun. BIFT, Uttara, Dhaka. (23 April)

NOTE: Letters should be 150 words or less, please.
Write to: <chintitoforever@gmail.com>

Copyright (R) thedailystar.net 2008