I blinked at reality
The Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of Dhaka Medical College and Hospital was crammed with people. The weather was hot and the presence of too many people inside the place made it steaming hot. There were wails and cries of help that reached my ears from different directions and my eyes fell on the wounded, bloody bodies on the floor.
There were humans of all shapes and sizes that lay on the floor, some conscious of the happenings around them, while others lay motionless. Relatives and friends of these injured people were huddled around the bodies; some looking helplessly around, some comforting the person, some wailing and screaming hysterically, some calling out for the doctor in-charge, some running around looking for blood, some busily talking on their mobile phones, some just staring at the bodies and recovering from the shock of seeing their dear ones in such a state while some others just holding the body and trembling. The tension in the atmosphere was evident, one that reflected a sense of an emergency.
I stood at a corner, carefully swallowing down the details of the incident and the scene that lay before my very eyes. The bomb blast at the Awami League Meeting had shaken the entire city, leaving many dead on the scene and hundreds other injured badly. The wounded were rushed to the biggest hospital of the city for aid and there they lay in front of me with an air of chaos and confusion above them.
I spotted one of the MP's from Awami League at the far end of the ward. I knew it was an MP not by the sight of his face, but by the number of people that attended him, for it was more-than-necessary. I saw a few concerned faces that surrounded his bed, often lowering their mouths and speaking in whispers to one another. I turned my head around and stopped at the sight of a young lady who lay carelessly on the floor. She was wounded on her breast, her saree was covered in blood and an elderly woman, probably her mother, was fanning her.
I looked at her wound and thought of her child, one that might be born in the future but will not have the heavenly blessing and feeling of suckling his/her mother's breast. It was too harsh a sight, so I turned and looked around at the other bodies. I saw a man with a wound on his head and blood seemed to flow out of his head at an alarming rate. It was spread on the floor around him and covered the woman's hand on which it was resting and there was a youth of seventeen/eighteen that was staring at it with a blank look while tears trickled down his cheeks.
The loss of blood was tremendous. I stared at the body and almost knew instantaneously that he won't survive till tomorrow. The very thought of his death made me feel hollow inside. The smell of sweat and blood, mixed with the commotion and cries inside made me feel sick all of a sudden, and I turned to leave the ward.
I stepped out into the crowded corridor to find a number of cameras clicking and flashing, all at the same time. There were a number of reporters that were surrounding a few men at a corner, their microphones pointing the same direction somebody was probably recollecting the whole incident. A few other journalists were scattered around here and there, occasionally scribbling down points on their small notepads. I was a freelance journalist, hoping to write a story on this event and sell it.
But I was in no condition to copy down notes. The explosion had shaken the country, but its aftermath had a stronger effect on me. The sight of all the blood and cries of the wounded was so horrific that it made me feel terribly hollow inside. It was gruesome sight, of all the bodies with its parts split apart, lying motionless in a pool of blood on the bare cement streets of Bangabndhu Avenue. I closed my eyes for a second when I thought of all this and gulped. The mere thought of the scene can make your soul cry and make you feel wobbly inside.
I was jerked back to reality by two strong hands that clasped my arms and shook me vigorously. I opened my eyes to find two bloodshot eyes with black circles around them, staring at me. The unshaven face of a youth was in front of me and his expression was that of desperation.
"Is your blood group B-negative?" he asked me in a raspy voice. He was shaking me while he asked me, as though the shake might as well pour out some of required blood from my mouth. Before I could collect myself to answer him, his grip tightened around my arms and he almost started crying.
"No…no…my blood group is not…" I mumbled but he didn't wait to hear the rest. He pushed me back with an expression of defeat and ran towards the exit. I lost him in the crowd of reporters and cameramen. I almost felt guilty for not having a B-negative blood group. His eyes were so desperately searching for hope and I felt as though I had somehow let him down.
I started walking towards the exit, pushing myself through the mass of people around me. Cameras flicked occasionally and there was lot of noise; people talking over cell phones, people screaming and shouting, people talking to each other, journalists chattering away questions and so on. Suddenly the mass parted in two as a bloody body was hurriedly carried away towards the Casualty Ward.
I jumped aside and had a moment's glance at the wounded body. It was an old man and one of his legs was missing. Blood rushed out of it and fell on the floor, leaving a trail of redness on the corridor. A few women made motions of fright at the sight of the trail. I stared at it and suddenly, I felt as though my stomach would turn upside down and felt like throwing up. I needed some fresh air.
I walked towards the exit as fast as I could and with some difficulty, got out of the hospital. A number of ambulances with their sirens wailing were clumsily parked around the entrance. I covered my ears with my palms and hurried past the ambulances, my eyes searching for a quiet corner. There were a few microbuses parked at a distance and I quickened my pace towards that direction. I stopped in front of one that was unoccupied and had no one around and leaned against it. I looked at the entrance of DMC. Cars were still pulling up and people were rushing inside. There were few distant shouts and people were running around here and there. There were a few microbuses with media labels on them.
I saw it all and thought about it. I thought about the people inside, the people who lay dead on the street, the people waiting at home, the people who're waiting outside and the people who live in this country. I thought of the wounded woman inside who might never be able to feed her own baby, I thought of the man who lay on the floor and would die tonight, I thought of the youth who came to me begging for blood, I thought of the man who was being taken inside with no leg and I thought of all their families.
What had they got to do as far as terrorism, Awami League and assassination attacks were concerned? Nothing. What were their mistakes that they had to suffer through this? Nothing. What right did other people have over their lives that they were to die in such a way? None. These people were innocent civilians who had to give up their lives for no good reason at all, who had to lose their arms and legs for no cause at all. And that wasn't fair! Most of the people who died or were lying inside DMC were people who had nothing to do with politics and were just an ordinary person from the masses.
I thought of the families of the dead. They were ones who'll be looking for the answers to these questions more than anyone else. They will be wondering as they weep for the lost souls as to what reasons had taken away their dear ones' lives. You know what's worse? They will never get any answers. Their questions will be ignored, just like all the other questions are after every other bomb attack that shakes this country up from time to time. They will never know who did this and why this happened. NEVER! That's why this country is so messed up, because nobody ever cares to pay attention to these issues. This isn't the first time that a bomb blasted, right? But this will go away like all the other times.
There will be an investigation committee formed that will promise to submit reports reports, that'll never come by ; there will be riots and protests riots and protests that will just cause clashes between the police and general public; there will be buses, cars and rickshaws in fire, just as an expression of protest but otherwise, a senseless act that only takes away somebody's mode of income such as that of a rickshaw puller's.
But in the end, everything will be over; everything will be like it was before. People will get busy with their lives and it would seem that nothing ever happened in the first place. Only those who lost their body segments, who lost their relatives, will hope (knowing well there's nothing to hope for) for an answer, a rightful punishment that may as well console the soul of the departed ones. But that never comes by…not in this country.
I closed my eyes for a second, as though swallowing this bleak truth inside me. When I opened them, I saw another ambulance pulling up in front of DMC and two blood-covered bodies being hurriedly taken inside. Who knows if they'll live till tomorrow? I stared at the scene, while the sirens wailed on. I looked down at my shoes and then looked up, blinking at the harshness around me, blinking at the naked facts that overpowered this country, blinking at reality.
By Sabhanaz Rashid Diya
To mom, with love
Thursday, the 26th
of August, 2004
Exactly 8:00 am: The alarm's ringing, I get up and switch it off. Even though I just woke up, I was wide awake and nobody needed to tell me what day it was. I make my bed, brushed my teeth, drank a glass of water, had a shower and then an unusually quiet breakfast. I felt like a robot, especially since on holidays I never usually woke up when the alarm went off but slept an extra 30 to 50 minutes. But who could sleep on the day the 'O' Level results were supposed to come out?
Anyone could tell it was D-Day. I only saw dad go out of our front door for office whereas on normal days, we usually had a go at each other or had a nice little chat. Mom had a would-be-casual tone when we exchanged our usual morning greetings and even smiled, but her face looked as if it was carved out of stone. Even the weather looked threatening. And me? I had forgotten how to talk normally and was yelling every time someone asked me something.
It's odd how time slows down to a crawl when you so want the terrible suspense to end. It was only 10:45am when I finished breakfast and I decided to do some math to kill time. I could hardly sit. I called up the school first and was told that the results would be coming on the net around 2 o'clock. I tried to read the RS and even watch TV -- nothing worked. My mom finally declared she was going to Meena Bazaar and she was taking me along. After some more screaming, I eventually gave inputting on my manliest clothes and tying up my greasy hair as tightly as I could.
It was past noon when we got back home and some of my relatives and cousins were already there. They, along with my mom, said their usual 'Nothing to worry about" and "You'll do just fine" and this went on for the next 45 minutes until I went for another shower. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black, I thought. In the solitude of my room, I said 'Aitul Qursi' three times, then turned on my computer and listened to 'Incubus' for almost an hour. I finally felt slightly calm after the second shower and managed to have some lunch. In what seemed like no time, it was 5 minutes to 2:00pm. I felt hollow. And all of a sudden, our computer simply refused to co-operate with me.
2:25pm and my batch mates had started calling me up as well as my relatives. I still didn't know my results. Now, I started feeling angry and embarrassed. Finally, we called up dad in the middle of a conference and he said under his breath in a that's-obvious tone, "Just turn it off completely, restart and try again." This worked instantly.
I don't know how
I felt as I scrolled down for my results as I was so confused but now
when I think back, I realize I had forgotten my fear. Finally they were
there. "6 As…
When everything calmed down slightly and everyone got busy with the telephone and preparations for a small celebration, I looked through my downloaded results. 'A' in English, 'A' in Bengali (like duuuh, kono bepaar!), 'A' in Computing (yippee!), 'A' in Bio (finally!), 'A' in Econ (yippee, again!) and 'A' in Physics (biggest miracle, considering I used to fail in that always though I liked the subject-anyway, Dad would be elated!). "Not bad dumbo, not bad at all, considering... everything." I thought, more-or-less satisfied.
I never wrote in the RS before because I was always clueless about what to write about and was never confident enough. But my mom always believed in my abilities and it is because of her tears and prayers that I finally achieved such satisfactory results. And since I don't know what to give her for all she has done, and since she always wanted me to write, this is for her. Thanks Mom! YOU ROCK (or should I say 'rule'!)!
By Just Woke Up
... ... Where?
Note: we apologise for losing the byline please contact us next week.
By Mohammad Rumman Hossain
By Pavana Khan
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