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     Volume 11 |Issue 43| November 02, 2012 |


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Photo: Star File


Ehsanur Raza Ronny

One would think that civilisation has its benefits. Food preservatives, paracetamol and indoor plumbing. Those are the benefits we got from thousands of years of evolution and the growth of civilisation. The first makes sure food stays fresh looking forever and a day. The second makes sure you don't die when the food only looks fresh. And the last ensures that civilisation continues civilised when fresh-looking-but-not-fresh food disagrees horribly with your stomach. Thanks to these great wonders, people flock to cities and get stuck like ketchup in a newly opened jar. You see ants converging on a discarded chocolate crumb? That's Dhaka. Except without the chocolate.

And then comes the season of the meat. People prepare for it like their life depends on it. It's not the superficial festival of style like the Eid before. No. It's not about curtains or clothes or burnished silver jewellery. Nope, those things came a close fifth. This time the preparation was all about the meat. Or rather 'The Meat'. First order of preparation was to fix the refrigerator or get a new one.

Second order of preparation was to make sure knives are sharp, the mats are clean and the knives are sharp. Yes, sharpness is important enough to check and write about twice.

Third order of preparation is to buy all the bleach in the world. It cleans, it disinfects and makes mouldy decaying flesh smell less mouldy. You see zombie movies where people are running through streets full of dead people, animals and politicians. Well, in reality, the smell would kill them first.

Fourth order of preparation was to go to the dentists. No one wants to waste time trying to flick out that unwanted string of meat caught between the unreachable teeth at the back.

Fifth order of preparation was to go. Leave. Disappear. It's a vacation so people are expected to stay out of the streets, out of the city, out of civilisation. Period. Togetherness is overrated considering the daily togetherness we go through from morning to late at night. You turn around and there's someone stepping on your face. Secretly dating couples have it worse. In this tiny city full of people, the moment a couple stops batting their eyelashes at each other, they notice someone in the distance blinking their eyelids in recognition. There's always someone you know looking at you. There is no privacy.

There are times when you step off the footpath only to risk your life against rusty buses inching by your hips. You want to get away from people so much, you'd rather risk death or tetanus.

But then comes the saviour known as Season of the Meat. People prepared, people ate, people slept. The cities never looked better. The roads are finally free of people. You can finally go places. I met a cousin who I had disowned for living in Uttara. I even thought of unfriending him from Facebook for living so far away. But then, this sudden lull in the traffic helped me reconnect. The good thing is, all this traffic keeps you away from meeting family too much. You see them twice a year during the two Eids and no one gets killed. Children once again get to play on the streets. Best of all, there is no one around. It's quiet.

You don't get these things anymore during daytime. Aristotle said “Whosoever is delighted in solitude is either a wild beast or a god”. He was right. It's exactly how one feels during this sudden lull in city life. Unfortunately it won't last. So instead of sitting here typing this up, I will go out and breathe in the quiet of the city.

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