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To all the girls who are reading this…has it ever happened to you once, even one single time that you have taken a good stroll through one of the zillions of malls in Dhaka, and NOT been gawked at by some weird, drooling, ugly, scary, freak of a guy? No? Well, I didn't think so. Anyways, back then, the simple strategy that most girls used was to ignore freaks like that. You don't look at them, move away, do your own thing, and life's good again. But thanks to technology, and the availability of technology at the cheapest rates, now nobody bothers to just stare. They take your picture with their little Nokia, Siemens, Panasonic, LG, or whatever brand cell phones, and more than often, there's nothing you can do about it!

The advertisements are all so pretty! The sleek men with their sleek cell phones clicking away sleekly at the pretty, sleek supermodels. Or a bunch of friends hanging out and taking pictures of their gang. My personal favourite is the one where the son shows his father a video in his cell where he's singing a corny, sweet song to his Papa. It's all so sweet! But the sweetness seems strongly limited to television ads. When I'm on a date with my boyfriend and some freak in the restaurant takes our pictures with his cell, there's nothing sweet about that! When poor Sarah (I can't take her real name), bends down casually to pick up her bag and a drooling pervert takes a picture of her behind, there is nothing even remotely sweet about that. And the worst thing, the absolute worst thing is that there really isn't anything that we can do about it. Well, you could make a huge scene in front of everybody, but since the guy was shameless enough to take your picture in the first place, I don't think he will care much about you screaming in his face. In fact, he'll probably be flattered that at least someone of the female species was paying him some attention!

The problem, of course, doesn't end there. We're all very much aware of the recent issues where celebrities had been video taped through cell phones in moments that should've been their own, and not for the rest of the world to see. Okay, forget celebrities, their lives have always been spectacles for people; even the average teenage couples nowadays are being video taped in their intimate moments, by, most pathetically, the couple themselves! And then of course the magic of MMS follows. Recently, I heard about this couple who, inspired from God knows what, video taped one of their 'making out sessions', and the guy found it amusing enough to send it to five of his friends. Within a week, almost the entire teenage population of Dhaka city had that video in their cell phones, and now the girl is just crying her heart out.

Normally, I have some sort of advice for Teen Central problems. But in this case, I really have no idea what people should do when absolute strangers take their pictures or videos them out of nowhere! I guess you could take off your sandals and beat the living hell out of the freak's pathetic little souls, but how to stop them from doing so in the first place, I really don't know. I just wish that people would get over the whole clicking away at every other human being thing, but given the nature of most people of our country, that's almost as good as wishing Santa to be real! The least that we can do however is avoid being exclusive members of the hypocrite club. It's the worst thing when somebody whines about the injustice of taking pictures like this and then shamelessly takes pictures of other people nonetheless. If we all become a bit more aware, and a bit more cautious, and a lot more civilized, we might just see the end of this pathetic practice some day soon!

By Fahmina Rahman

Incendiary hordes

With another bomb blast around every nook and corner, there is obviously a lot to discuss and argue upon, and apparently everybody has an opinion. So, we here also have a couple of points that we believe needs to raised, sooner or later.

In these days of fear and insecurity, many of us probably wonder as to why and how a handful of deluded people are so successful at bombing up the country, setting a nationwide red alert and have managed to come so dangerously close to breaking down the entire democratic system. Opinions have been raised on the issue of who is to blame, but we will seek to avoid that controversial argument. However, it is not humanly possible for any group to become as powerful as the JMB have become overnight.

To understand where the rot started, we think that it is vital to look at the background of those people who are willing to give up their lives for what they believe is a “heavenly” cause. Most of the suicide bombers (in Bangladesh at least) are poor village youths, often coming from depressed areas of the country, such as Rajshahi (where JMB was first conceived). This could be greatly due to economic deprivation and lack of opportunities. The higher education and job recruitment system of the country is so corrupt, politicized and dysfunctional that simple, hardworking youths find it extremely difficult to find a niche for themselves in order to improve their and their families' financial situations.

Therefore, these youths have no cause to believe in a system has given them nothing, as all they have to look forward to is living the same life of severe financial deprivation that their parents did and their children also will. On their hungry stomachs, the high ideals of Bangladesh progressing as a nation mean little (even less than the promises so readily resorted to by our politicians). Naturally the message that Islamic fundamentalists bring to them is far more welcoming.

Those who mastermind civilian massacres in the name of their perverted distortion of Islam takes advantage of this vicious vortex of poverty and restlessness, and the simplicity of these youths to make it seem that as if militancy gives them a cause in life, something to be proud of. These youths are told that their actions are to safeguard Islam and they will go to heaven upon blowing themselves up. Being a warrior for what they are told is the cause of Islam does have more appeal than the abject poverty which is all that the various governments have ever offered them throughout their lives. Heaven, with its orchards of lush fruits and promise of virgins, seems to be a considerable improvement than the conditions they live in, and hence the origin of the incendiary hordes.

Now the question remains why some people would be so intensely concentrated upon destroying the democratic foundations of a poverty-stricken country like Bangladesh and why 140 million people apparently seem to be unable to stop them. The second question is easier to answer. We have been failed by the very people who we entrusted with our security. The “concerned” government, opposition parties and generally, the entire political system have each made some contribution to the present fiasco. Even worse, they have all steadfastly refused to accept their share of the blame for it.

The government started off by consistently denying the very existence of JMB militants. Before any investigation could be launched on these heinous bomb blasts, the government made it a point to blame the opposition, and the opposition has replied in kind. They each blame, what they call, “certain anti-liberation forces”. But we are sick of hearing the same terms being bandied back and forth. If the government is so convinced that the opposition is to blame, then they should launch an effective and impartial investigation into these blasts (something they have not done). Also, if the opposition has so many objections against the government, then they should sit in a discussion as invited to raise their points (something they have consistently refused to do). This tiresome blame-game and unabashed double standards are a godsend for the militants.

Apart from the fact that JMB militancy has created a national crisis, it has also successfully destroyed religious morals of younger generations. We talked with a couple of youths from different age groups who now have come to the extent of questioning their own religion. They ask themselves about the religion that is apparently being preached through blood and suicide and how far it is going to take them in the future. It was shocking for us to discover that their beliefs on Islam have weakened through this series of bomb blasts. Where JMB supposedly is acting at the “will of God”, it has managed to destroy the ever-trusted presence and reverence of Islam in the hearts and minds of today's youths. If they are so intent upon building a nation on the misinterpreted foundations of the Holy Quran, then through its process, it is misleading younger generations and if this continues, we believe that the future of our country is in godless peril.

So, in conclusion, all we have to ask ourselves is 'what do we do next?' We can either give in to these wrongdoers in the eyes of man and God, society and religion or we can do something about it. In 1971, the people of Bangladesh knew who to stand united against. We had 90,000 Pakistani soldiers to shoot at. But in 2005, we have to realize that fingers can no longer be pointed. We have to do a lot of soul-searching to identify our own faults and make a sincere effort to remedy the situation. The worst part is that that there may be a suicide bomber living next door, but we may never know. The least we can “hope” (as we always do) is that the government and opposition political groups will be able to understand this soon and “work together” to bring about some sort of change for the better.

By Aaqib F. Hossain and Sabhanaz Rashid Diya

Book review

Muktijudhher Smriti

There have been numerous books written on our liberation war by various writers. There have been short stories, poems, novels and also a few personal accounts of the war. 'Mutijudhher Smriti' by Md. Bodruzzaman Mia (Bir Protik) falls in the last category. Before the Liberation war, the writer was an MBA student of the IBA, Dhaka University. After the war, he came out receiving the Bir Protik award for his outstanding achievements during the war. This book is the story of his nine-month struggle and heroics.

Md. Bodruzzaman Mia joined the Liberation war before it had even begun. Inspired by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib's fiery 7th March speech, he left Dhaka for his village home in Kurigram district. From then on, he was a constant source of inspiration and support for the forces of freedom. In his simple but lucid style of writing, he describes a few of his dangerous and valorous exploits during the war how he helped to organize the locals, how he formed a band of freedom fighters and without any prior experience fought and won his battles against the Pak army. He also describes his experience of fighting under the Muktibahini, where he fought as a Base Commander. His description of the war presents a real picture of it; not the ideological rambling we're used to hearing, but war through the eyes of a fighter and a victim of war. This is one of the best things about the book. Md. Bodruzzaman Mia, although a courageous freedom fighter himself, doesn't hesitate to write about the beauty as well as the ugliness of the war, the valor as well as the discretion of the fighters, their heroics and their failures, their mistakes and their tragedies. In short, he presents the freedom fighters as average human beings, people who have been victimized and forced to fight back, whose courage and valor don't come from ideology, but from desperation.

Besides describing the battles fought against the Pak army, the writer also writes about the battles that were fought against the Razakars and some unscrupulous politicians. He tries to write a general description of the way free areas (like his own hometown) were governed, and using a few examples suggests solutions to some of our country's current problems. In the introduction of the book, the writer gives full credit of the victory to the general people, and throughout the whole book, his attention to the contribution and the sacrifices of the common people is noteworthy.

The writer admits that he wrote this book with only one purpose to uphold the factual truth of the war. For that reason, he has only written about the things which he is certain are true. He also refrains from discussing or commenting on various aspects of the war. He tries to be as unbiased and objective as possible, and though he does express his political beliefs at times, he doesn't try to impose them on the reader. The writer's objectiveness might make the book seem a little dull to some readers, but its simple language and conciseness make it an easy read for most. So, if you're feeling patriotic this Victory Day and looking for a good way to celebrate this 16th December, this book might just serve your purpose. You can probably get the book from New Market or the Biswa Shahitya Kendra libabry. If you can't, then you can always e-mail Niloy and ask for it like I did.

By Zeeshan


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