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|Volume 11 |Issue 34| August 31, 2012 ||
The sales in the shopping centres soar before every Eid. People from different walks of life mingle in the shopping centres, desperately trying to find the attires that fit best. In order to buy a saree for her maidservant, my aunt and I jostled our way through crowded aisles of Chandni Chawk Market a few days before the last Eid. I saw a young couple buying jewellery to match a beautiful pink embroidered kameez the woman was holding possessively. They were sweating in the heat, but seemed to be in a jovial mood. As my aunt skimmed through a collection of sarees, I walked out to get some fresh air, but to my disappointment, I found that swarms of shoppers seemed to have burned all the oxygen everywhere. A middle-aged woman with a teenager, who I figured to be her child, was shopping nearby. I could see that the woman had already bought trousers and T-shirts for her son, but the boy was still nagging for more. The mother warned her son to behave himself, but the boy remained adamant. After a long, suppressed argument, they left. After a while, I began to think about the other boys – probably of the same age as the one I just saw – who work day - in day - out for their daily bread in some hazardous factory or on the streets. How many of those underprivileged children had new clothes for Eid?
The other day, my friend and I, tired from a long walk and a day of fasting, decided to have our iftar out. Knowing the rush at iftar time, we walked into a restaurant in Dhanmondi 40 minutes before time. We placed our orders, paid and waited. Just five minutes before azaan, two girls came in and asked for a table for eight. All the tables were set for four and we were told (not asked) to take our food elsewhere. We suggested that we share the table since we had come first and it was only a few minutes before iftar. Instead, our money was returned and we had no choice but to leave. Needless to say we could not find another suitable place within that time. We were disappointed to see how little civic sense the people of this country have - and how could the girls so unapologetically take our seats and how could the store managers throw us out at iftar time? Besides, this is clearly bad customer service, and a violation of business ethics, not to mention, simply insensitive and rude.
Under Blue Skies
While buying some iftar items near the police line in Barisal city, I suddenly noticed a young boy running away while two men tried to catch him. Finally they captured the boy, who started screaming loudly, “Leave me, I will go back home.” The boy was wearing a panjabi and a white toopi (cap). People gathered around them. We came to know that the boy had lost his father. As it had become difficult for his mother to carry the load of their family, she admitted the boy to a madrassa where he would at least get food and learn about religion for free. But the boy couldn't bring himself to accept the confines and the harsh disciplinary life of the madrassa and tried to flee several times. But every time, he was caught and was forced by the madrassa authorities to go back.
I noticed frustration not only in the eyes of this young boy but also in the eyes of orphans who have no entertainment and no chance to play. Food and education are essential for survival but they cannot be the sole requirements of a better future. If we insist on putting four walls around these children, we are soon going to lose many potential creative minds.
Md Azam Khan
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