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|Volume 11 |Issue 21| May 25, 2012 ||
Where did all our Playgrounds go?
Bangladesh Maath (field) used to be one of the few remaining playgrounds in Old Dhaka. But last week, when a couple of my friends and I went to play some outdoor games in the afternoon, we found that the place was not suitable for playing anymore. There was no sign of soft earth as the field was filled with sand. Moreover, the place was crammed with people. Feeling a little disconcerted, we started to play on our roof. Although we played very carefully, the tennis ball fell on the street several times before an elderly neighbour came and told us that that was the last time we were playing on the roof, because he thought the ball could hit and crack somebody's skull on the street.
The next day, we went to Bangladesh Maath at night, hoping to get the field all to ourselves. But after a while, a man who lives next to the field came towards us looking very angry and started swearing at us. At one point of the argument he even hit a friend of mine.
Utterly frustrated, we decided to give up the hope of playing outdoors. There is virtually no playground in this part of the town. The remaining fields are in terrible shape or become overcrowded in the evening. We ask ourselves, should we stop playing outdoor games only because we live in Old Town?
Beating the Poor children
The other day, I was going to work by bus. At the Gulistan intersection, a couple of malnourished children got on the bus to beg from the commuters. The children wore grimy and smelly clothes. For some reason, one of the passengers got really annoyed with the children and started abusing them. Soon, he started beating one of the kids. I was shocked to find that most of the passengers took his side and abused the children. It is obvious that those middle class commuters, in their subconscious, do not consider the street children as human beings.
I tried to take the side of the kids and called them. The 5 to 7 years old kids were sisters. I asked about their parents and they said, "Our father is dead. My mother is blind and she can't see anything." They live in a slum beside railway tracks in Sayedabad. Their family is partly dependent on their income. They have never attended school. It seems that their struggle for survival began the very day they were born.
Although these children are citizens of this country, they are being treated like animals everyday. It makes me wonder if it is impossible to improve their lot.
Bipul K Debnath
Losing Control on a Bus
On the scorching hot summer days, the public buses, crammed with people, get stuck in the traffic gridlock for hours. During one of these humid, brooding afternoons, I hopped on a bus to Farmgate at 12pm. In the usual traffic, it takes about an hour to reach from Baridhara to Farmgate. However, the streets were completely jammed that day, and it took more than two hours to reach Farmgate.
Under the glaring sun, the vehicles stood still on the smoking hot tarmac. I thought I had become a human kebab when the bus reached the destination. As I got up from my seat and began to manoeuvre to the door, I accidentally bumped against a man. "Whoa! Watch it, you moron," the man said before I had time to apologise. "It's ok pal, you don't have to yell," I said. The man didn't say anything but kept staring at me. Still calm, I told him to look away. After a few moments, before I knew it, I was screaming my lung out at him and he was doing the same. As we kept spitting out all the coarse Bangla swear words we knew, the conductor reminded me that the bus had reached the destination. After getting down from the bus and walking a little while, I realised what a ridiculously senseless thing I had just done. I also laughed at how the heat had managed to make me lose control and behave in that crude manner in a public transport.
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