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A touch of humanity

On a bright, sunny Sunday, Rumki slung her stuffed bag over her shoulders, and was on her way to an entire day of non stop coaching. She was a private A Level candidate, and since her exams were coming up in a few months, naturally, she was going quite out of her mind! Getting to all the different coaching centers on time, without any car, and with traffic jams all around in full glory, can really stretch your patience to the maximum.

So one fine Sunday, Rumki was on her way to her Economics teacher's house, rapidly chewing the bubble gum in her mouth, and quickly making her way through the busy crowd to get a rickshaw, when a very common sight around Dhaka caught her attention. A man, wrinkled and shriveled to a size that made him look like a skeleton with skin, was lying on the road on a dirty piece of plastic and begging for money. His legs had shriveled to nothing, and were clearly incapable of being used, while his hands seemed to be reaching the same fate very soon. A joint in his right hand had clearly been broken, and with his one remaining hand, he gestured the sea of people busily making their way around him to give him a few pennies. Most of them didn't even bother to look at him, let alone give him money. And the only reason he had caught Rumki's attention was because he was exactly in her way, and she had to stand there for quite a while to wait while the others walked and cleared her way. Obviously she was annoyed! This old man was lying on the road, singing his stupid crappy song and begging for money, while he delayed people from reaching their bloody important classes on time! Who knew if he was just another of those fakes who pretended to be blind and what not to get some money from good-hearted people like herself. In fact, she was sure that if she took a few of his pennies right then, all his handicapped features would 'miraculously' cure all of a sudden…heck, he'd probably clutch that lungi and run after her for his money!

Rumki did get to her class, but she was half an hour late which got her another half hour's jhari from her teacher. Naturally on the way home, she was in a very bad mood. While getting down from the rickshaw, she fought with the rickshaw puller for a whole 5 minutes about the fare. That bloody thief wanted a whole twelve taka when the fare was only ten! Angrily throwing a ten taka note on his face, she walked away, leaving the poor guy screaming all sorts of crap at her. Seeing the beggar on the road once again didn't make her feel any better either, but she stopped for a while to stare at the amount of pennies in his bowl. It hadn't increased one bit. Suddenly she saw the rickshaw puller she had just screamed at walking towards her.

“I will not give you two more taka, get that!” she angrily gushed out.
But the rickshaw puller didn't say anything to her. Instead, he walked towards the beggar lying on the road and put a five taka coin in his bowl, and walked away again. And for once in her life, Rumki felt ashamed of being such a selfish, selfish girl. She had fought with a poor guy for two taka, two mere taka that wouldn't have made her any richer or poorer, but could have increased a hard working rickshaw puller's daily income.

And worst of all, that hard working rickshaw puller, who probably doesn't even get one hundredth of the luxuries and comfort that she gets, was generous enough to donate some money to a poor beggar on the road, who only succeeded in annoying Rumki! Yes, she was ashamed, very ashamed that a guy so much poorer than herself had more humanity in his heart than she could ever have.

By Fahmina Rahman

Of bee stings and tea breaks!

I am doomed this year. My father has promised me with utmost allegiance that he shall and will bequeath a change in my personality this year. When I heard this initially, I felt as if the water drained out of me at that instant. For four months, my father has sworn me to ancient living methodology- no Internet and no telephone line. As if being in this sort of detention camp was not enough, to make up for my lack of entertainment, my father urged me to watch BTV channel (surprise… no satellite channel) during tea breaks! For a change, I had to give in to the national TV channel of Bangladesh, which is watched by zero public in Dhaka and near-about-zero public in the rural areas.

Bear with my analysis dear readers, but it might be promising to know that BTV hardly shows any more of the camera stills they used to show. Honestly, thank goodness somebody finally had the common sense that hygiene-consciousness acts can also be shown as MOTION PICTURES! Another lesser-noticeable improvement is that the graphics related to the News has changed, even if it has miniscule difference from the past. So far, it is my third month of detention camp and I have yet to see Bangla-dubbed Chinese serial… this is good news.

Every good has its bad side- and BTV has plenty. Firstly, even though the still pictures and the Chinese serials are gone, BTV producers have come up with another way to fill up their empty slot- music, music and more monotonous music! The same songs are sung by the same artist, in the same stage for over the past God knows how many years! The stage is decorated in the same, and in some cases maybe worse than before designs- balloons, cardboard cutouts, cellophane or 'sholas' and not to forget the newest 'khat' addition- the 'morichbati'decoration; right at the front of the camera! The lady/gentleman has to follow the same rule- 'bhaijan/bhabijaan, heley-duley gaan gan'. Most often, the songs shot out of stage show the same location over and over from different angles. I wish the killer bee outside my window stings the producers so that they realize the pain and eyesore they condemn us to!

The announcements are still in black and blue.
The News at 10 is watched by a lot of people; the reason being probably that the other 'Bangalee' satellite channels are blackmailed that if they do not air something from BTV, their airing license will be cancelled. Then again, I talk a lot. The News at 10 is a compiled video footage from other satellite channels on air. After 35 years of freedom, BTV cameramen are not at the field for a live footage, while the other private channels are!

Finally they changed the age-old newsreader's table in the studio. But to my horror, I still found the brilliant long white paper on the black desk; being pushed slowly up and up; in a motion that makes it apparent to us- the newsreader is reading the news from a TV screen. There are still dreadful moments of silence as the newsreader stares at the camera blankly, waiting for the news footage to show up. Cannot they have a short A4 size paper instead of the long one's which they read from, so that they do not have to move the paper up the desk in order to read from the camera projector?

The only day in my detention camp that I enjoyed so far was watching BTV on 14th February. Yes my dear readers, our national TV also realizes the foreign-culture introduced day called Valentine's Day. That day, the films and 'natoks' were pretty funny and also there was a special program of 'Lal Golap', which showed various footages from foreign films. Indeed an improvement even though borrowed.

I would like to end with a quote from a wise man commenting on BTV- “ We are concerned only because our national pride rests on what you screen; and DON'T SCREEN!”

By Shamma M. Raghib


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