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|Volume 11 |Issue 04| January 27, 2012 ||
I think riding a rickshaw is perhaps the most enjoyable way of travelling in the city; it can actually beat the comfort of a car ride. I find talking to rickshawpullers quite interesting. For instance, by talking to some of them I came to know that most rickshawpullers pay a daily rent of Tk. 90 and end up earning close to Tk10,000 a month. They also manage to spend enough time with their families as most of them make it a point to go back to their villages at least once a month.
The most interesting story perhaps came from one of the rickshawpuller who was taking me home from work. Upon noticing a couple flirting in a park, the rickshawpuller immediately started telling me about his 'heroic tales' of how he managed to cheat on his wife with three other women for almost a year, before one of his 'jealous' friends, according to him, spilled the beans to his wife. Ever since then, his wife has kept a close eye on him. It was even more appalling when he told me of a country that he heard of where -there were very few men and they could choose to have more than 6-7 wives. He hopes to go there one day. The entire story must have been made-up but as far as I was concerned the twenty bucks I paid him for the rickshaw ride, was totally worth it!
Abdul Jabar Khan
Forever in the Clutches of Poverty
We were on our way back from Banani, after celebrating the birthday of one of our friends and had stopped in front of the Bijoy Sarani intersection at the red traffic signal. As we looked around, eagerly waiting for the vehicles to start moving again, we saw lanky girl. She was wearing a shabby frock and her little braid was tied by a red ribbon that matched the colour of her attire. The girl was standing beside another car nearby, the bulky driver in the car, narrowed his eyes to make a threatening expression to send her away. But she resolutely stood her ground holding on to a plastic sack filled with popcorn packets. When the desperate attempt went in vain, she gave a sigh and held her sack firmly getting ready to make a move ahead.
The girl was of school-going age, she must have had dreams of playing like all the other privileged children in our society but her hopes were all obliterated in the face of poverty. One of my friends gestured at her to come to us. She quickly jaywalked amongst the heavy traffic risking her life. As my friend bought a packet of popcorn from her, the girl gave us a beautiful and relieved smile. But it made me sad to think that while we can afford to enjoy all the pleasures of the world, we can not do much to give her a better future.
When Love Hurts
The other day I was having lunch with my friends at a restaurant, and we overheard a heated exchange between the couple at the next table. Suddenly, we heard a faint cry from the young woman and we all looked to see that she was holding on to the side of her face with tears streaming down her cheeks. This time the boy's threatening, voice was quite loud and it seemed like he was demanding money from her. We were all wondering if we should interfere and demand an explanation for such behaviour. But they got up and left the place. Their appearance indicated that they were both well-off and one may assume that they were educated. It is quite possible that this is not the first time that the young women had been hit by her significant other. I was actually in a dilemma as to how to view the incident, I did feel sorry for her but it also made me wonder; why would she agree to remain in a violent relationship? It could be that the boy was blackmailing her or something of the sort. It breaks my heart to think about what may be the future of the woman if she continues to be with this man. It would obviously lead to more violence and he would never be punished because she would never speak out.
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