Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home

 

Big thick specs

Rimi was sad to look at the new pair of spectacles the shopkeeper gave.
Rimi asked: “I think, I told you to make it the high indexed one. You know, not matter how high powered glass it is, it looks thinner.”
The shopkeeper smiled and answered: “We did our best to make it thin. Your glass power is -00.7. It's the maximum indexed size we could make.”

Rimi put the big, thick nerd looking specs on and started for the class. The street on which she was walking seemed uneven- a kind of dreamy look everything around her had. The tree branches filled with green leaves seemed melting-she could not see the shape of the leaves. Her eyes actually needed some time to adjust to the new pair of glasses.

In class, the teacher called Rimi to go up to the front and say some of the main features of the Renaissance period. She stood up from her seat and walked towards the front. She looked for the podium that made her much comfortable to hide behind while making presentations. But the teacher had removed it! She could feel her forehaead sweating. Her hands were numb……….. “How clumsy I look! Where would I keep my hands?”

Rimi started her speech: “Well, Renaissance means……….. ummmmmm…. The main features of this……….”

That night was a small get-together at Sarah's. Rimi did try to put on a bit of make up…….. kajol on her eyes, a bindi between the eyebrows and a light coloured lipstick-she was not sure of how much of the make up could be seen by others. The big thick specs hid the most attractive feature of her face. She chose a quite little corner of Sarah's living room and Imtiaz was in a bottle-green silk punjabi. His entrance illuminated the whole room. Faria was smiling at him, she was blushing! Was something going on between them? Sarah was angry with her maid servant and was scolding her for not arranging the food properly…….. On the other end f the room Trina was fidgeting with her mobile. Perhaps the 50th SMS of the day she was sending to her boyfriend. The new relationship had made her so selfish that she was not giving much time to her friends. The sound of a glass falling on the ground took everyone's attention to that side of the room. Sojol was embarrassed of his deed.

“Sarah,…… extremely sorry for that. Give me a broom and I'll clear the mess up.”

He went to the kitchen and emerged with a broom and tray to clean the place. Mahin had come in just then and sat beside Rimi.

“Mahin, how was the workshop you had attended?” asked Rimi.
“I didn't attend.” Mahin was somewhat withdrawn.
“But you had worked hard for it and wrote all the essays on gender-issue topic!………”

Mahin was silent and was not listening to Rimi. Her eyes were stuck on the floor and she was lost in her own thoughts.
Rimi went to the centre table and took a glass of Coke for Mahin. She came back to the sofa and held the glass before Mahin.
Mahin was not aware of Rimi.
Rimi sat beside her and kept a hand on her shoulder: “Is everything okay at home?”
Mahin answered in an emotionless mechanised tone: “My parents got divorced two days ago. He lives with that ^%#^& now.”
Rimi did not know what to say. She embraced Mahin who was trembling while trying to control her fury and tears.

All these years Rimi always felt that she looked ugly and unapproachable. She used to get scared to talk to new people; she used to hide her emotions behind “The Big Thick Specs”. But after the night spent at Sarah's, things were different for her. She realised that through this “Big thick specs” she could see the people around her more closely, more intimately. She could observe their expressions and see the way they sparkle proudly as Imtiaz……. the way they fall in love in a heart beat as Faria……the way they change into a self-centred person as Trina……the way they get angry as Sarah……the way they feel embarrassed as Sojol and………….

The way they try to hide their pains as Mahin.
“The big thick specs” was not a complex anymore for Rimi. It's the observing power that she had within her. People never tried to look through the specs and find out Rimi's emotions. But she observed theirs.

By Sabreena Ahmed


Bangladesh from the outside



I am a Bangladeshi teenager and have lived my entire life outside the country. However, I am proud to count myself as a patriotic Bangladeshi. And it greatly saddens me when I go back to Bangladesh over the summer and everyone belonging to the so-called highly-motivated desher-jubok society are dreaming of a time when they will leave the country and go off to some English-speaking nation. The fact that a great proportion of Dhaka's street lampposts are a host of IELTS and TOEFL coaching centre advertising posters supports this idea. I totally understand that a lot of these young people living in Bangladesh are fed up with what their country has to offer to them and I fully commiserate with them, considering what I hear in the news regarding the current events unfolding in Bangladesh. But still, if all these people are so intent on running away from their country, then who will bring back Bangladesh from the highest rank of the Most Corrupt Nations Chart? (And don't go calling me a hypocrite: I plan to come and live in Bangladesh as soon as I finish my university studies!)

For all those people who drool every night while dreaming of life in a foreign country, I have to stress that it's not as easy as it seems. Maybe you feel that you will be escaping the nightmarish life of Dhaka, but trust me, wherever in the world you are planning to go, you will meet countless obstacles daily, the foremost of which I would count as racism. Unfortunately, thanks to the charts that Bangladesh regularly tops, we do not have the best reputation as a country. There are a great number of people in my school who seem to think that the word 'Bangali' is a swear word (pronounced ultra-harshly with a stress on the second 'a'). For example, when some big ugly bully decides to kick around a skinny, bespectacled kid with an Indian accent, one of the punch lines will be 'Oh you bangaali blah, blah, blah …”. And the funny (as in sad) thing is that the loser isn't even from Bangladesh!

Anyway, that is just one (minor) example of racism that I have witnessed. And this sort of thing doesn't just take place in immature institutions such as schools but also at work places. One of my dad's colleagues had once made a joke: “Isn't your national airways called Baymaan?” Get it? Baymaan, as in traitor, not Biman. For the record, this guy is a high-standing professional, who at some time in his life, won a prestigious national award for mathematics in his country, the name of which I will not mention since I might be labelled racist. (But I can give you a clue if you like: our liberation war was fought against the military of this country. Ha! Ha!)

So, yes, racism is definitely a major issue. Another thing that I always regret is missing all the festivals celebrated in the Bangali way. In my entire life, I have celebrated Eid in Bangladesh only once and the experience was seriously amazing, starting from everyone embracing in the morning, through to eating more than 10 meals in one day, and down to becoming filthy rich, thanks to all the older members of my bongsho. It's not just Eid. All the patriotic events, like December 16th, March 26th, and February 21st fascinate me as I watch them on TV and as my mother tells me about them. I too want to wear a yellow sari and go to a boshonter mela! Sadly, I am deprived from celebrating all these events the pure Bangali way, among fellow Bangladeshis, in Bangladesh.

All of you who are impatiently waiting for your chance to flee Bangladesh might be in for a brighter future and an exciting time in your life, irrespective of the country of your dreams. Indeed, higher studies in countries like the US, Canada and the UK are valued greatly. And, maybe, your standard of living will be heightened tremendously. But, frankly, you will miss Bangladesh deeply, starting from the rings of the rickshaw bells to the absolute certainty of listening to Bangla wherever in the country you are. So, come back to Bangladesh after completing your studies and what-not and help flourish our little motherland. After all, you owe it to Bangladesh and to those men and women who gave their blood in order for you to live in a country that you can call your own and speak your own tongue in.

By Dreamcatcher


 
 

home | Issues | The Daily Star Home

2006 The Daily Star