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|Volume 11 |Issue 47| November 30, 2012 ||
I was on the Dhaka-Sylhet highway recently, on my way back to Dhaka after a weekend away. It was dark and we were driving quite carefully, but not everyone was. At one point, I saw a small car trying to overtake a truck and just as it did, another bus, just in front of us (as we were coming from the opposite direction) hit the car head on. We were able to avoid colliding into the bus by inches as we braked. A woman in the car was grievously injured, but thankfully no one else was harmed. There are many such accidents happening regularly all over the country because of negligence on the part of the drivers and in some cases terrible roads. Something should be done about it.
The other day, on my way home, I had to stop the car at the traffic signal near Bashundhara City in Panthapath. As usual, a physically challenged beggar walked up to my car and started knocking at the window for alms. In general, I am against giving alms, but for some reason, I took pity on the poor man and thought I should give him something. When I checked my wallet, I found only Tk 500 and Tk 1000 notes. There was no way I would give such big amounts so I kept looking for change only to find three 25 paisa coins under the dashboard. After I gave him the coins, he counted them thoughtfully and told me, “Sir, why don't you search a little more, and try and find another 25 paisa; then these would sum up to one taka at least.” I was dumbfounded.
I was walking down Saat Mashjid road the other day when I saw two teenage girls standing outside KFC chatting. They were dressed in western clothes, jeans and t-shirts and were standing out in the crowd. All of a sudden, a group of five or six boys came up to them and started teasing them, asking them their names and saying things about the way they were dressed. The girls were obviously frightened and were not saying anything to them. They were trying to leave but the boys kept following them. What surprised me was that there were at least a dozen people standing there, most of them men, watching this and not one of them did something to stop what was happening. As a woman I have experienced this before and it infuriated me enough to shout at the boys saying I will call the police if they don't leave. They seemed surprised at my protest but they did walk away. I really wish our society would have a lower tolerance for such behavior.
'Bhaiya, my mother is ill and my father drove a rickshaw and died in road accident,' said Morzina as she was begging at the Gabtoli bus stop. I came to know that whatever she had said was not true at all. She said this only to beg. What I also came to know that she had to pay a certain share of her earning from begging to the 'syndicate'. She was only six years old. 'My father left us and married another woman. My mother is sick and doesn't do anything,' Morzina later told me in confidence. She is the second among her five siblings and lives in a slum near Aminbazar. Whatever insignificant amount that she makes out of begging at street, she gives it to her mother so that she can run the family. Although she always wanted to go to school, she never had the chance to attend one. Morzina and children like her struggle for survival every single day. Theirs is an insurmountable battle, beginning from the very day they are born. If we are really unable to help them, we can at least love them and show them sympathy.
Bipul K Debnath
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