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CSI: Dhaka

Part I

Chief Inspector Kuddus took off his golden-rimmed sunglasses and looked at the sun. Wiping the sweat off his forehead, he figured the scorching July heat had picked its bait. The crime scene looked forlorn, and his first visit there reminded him of his first trip to the zoo. That was not a happy day.

“Ostaad, we have traced the colours of the lost specimen using Kanta Didi's special sniffing abilities. Her Indian nose, coupled with her Gujrati heritage allows her to detect even the littlest amounts of material in clothing. We think it's definitely a checked print in blue and white. I hear it contains no zippers!”

“Very well, Mokhles. A job well done. Where is the guy with the ninth sense when we need him?”

A gust of black smoke coughed up the air and a CNG screeched to a halt. Annoyed, CI Kuddus checked his watch. Late as always, he smirked.

Just then, with the scent of chewed betel following in his wake, just as only a paan addict could emit, Baba Bakra strode in with his red pagri tied in a bun at the back of his head, donning a khaki shirt and trousers. He sat down opposite to the Chief and spat betel juice into his face.

“Shoot. I always miss aim.”
The Chief Inspector rolled his eyes, and taking a Bangla Tissue from his ghoosh pocket, proceeded to wipe his face with it. Baba Bakra was well known for his idiosyncratic behaviour, from once accidentally running over a local imam, to being mistaken as being Bangla Bhai to continuously and quite obviously, bumping into women to feel them up. But Kuddus bore with it all, because Bakra was the man with an eye into the future (the other one had been gouged out in a violent argument with his ex-wife), and he had been labelled by the media as “The Nine-Cents (sic) Man”, with people saying that he was the only man who could kill five birds with one dhiil.

With a sudden twitch, Baba Bakra began shaking. Kuddus sat up - the moron must be having an apparition. Mokhles ran towards Bakra with a jug of water, living up to his name and eager to serve - but Kuddus stopped him just in time. Bakra's twitching became more violent; much like what Justin Timberlake does during MTV videos and what some loosely describe as dancing.

“I can see it. I can FEEEEL it! He's here, he's amidst us. Quick! Take me to Zinzira - I can sense his presence!”

Bakra coughed into a stop, but CI Kuddus has already put his shades back on. It was time to solve a case.

Zinzira in the afternoon was a terrible sight, its sidewalks littered with used paraphernalia, ranging from disregarded, disgustingly used elastic rubber material to the puke of the anorexic scarlet women that Zinzira was known for. This was what the CSI men and women of Dhaka had to deal with it on a regular basis, and their experiences had been hardened by this continuous exposure to the vast erring underbelly of Dhaka, slithering with the most heinous of criminals, committing the most intolerable of crimes.

“This is like our own China!” exclaimed an overly enthusiastic Mokhles.

Enough: they had a lungi stealer to catch.
The four of them arrived at the Zinzira Train Station, Baba Bakra convulsing in the back seat, muttering out relevant information in intermittent lapses, lapses during which he would mumble gibberish into the ears of Kuddus, betel juice dripping from the end of his earlobe. In the front seat sat Mokhles and one of the top veteran drivers of the Dhaka CSI, Sohel Mia (He had once been a successful getaway driver for the infamous Bangladesh Bank robbers, but was eventually caught.)

They stopped in front of the station, and got out, with all three of them having to drag Bakra out into the open. He was still having self-induced seizures. “Maa, bachao! - Ami tarzan! - Where do you always keep the remote, wife? - O ashtese! - Chanachurville!” No one could understand a word he was saying. This was turning out to be too much for the driver, who had started to choke Bakra with his Dubai kerchief.

“Where's Utshob Shaheb? He was supposed to meet us here half an hour ago!” Cl Kuddus cried out.

“Lookin' for me?” Arre part. There stood Utshob, clad in the brightest of purple punjabis, an orange scarf wrapped around his neck. He was sitting on a thelar gari, his feet propped up on some poor construction worker's back.

“Did you pay someone to rest your feet on again, Utshob?” Kuddus, always the realist, asked.

“Forget about that, Kuddus bhai,” he said, “I'm here. Now let's catch this lungi chor.”

To be continued

By Sabhanaz Rashid Diya and S. N. Rasul

For A Student With Love

TO write a fictitious incident is easy. You write what you want to write. You are the controller. What you want happens. Unfortunately in real life you are not in control. The Almighty is! Your life is steered by His will. If man was in control of his destiny his life would be smooth and comfortable, all endings would be happy and tragedies would not occur.

However there is a supreme power to be accountable to. But we are so busy with our lives that most of us, especially the young, have little time for the rules that Allah has ordained for us. Yes, the Almighty reigns over the Heavens and the Earth and controls our destiny.

This is what everyone - family, friends as well as teachers like me were reminded of when Nabilah Khan died in a tragic road accident with her husband. Her three-month year old baby girl survived the accident unscathed. This terrible news brought to a stop the importance we give to the real issues in life.

I remember Nabilah when she was a student in Sunbeams eleven years ago. Their batch was like a "60 course buffet lunch." Each child had a special "flavour" - sweet, sour, spicy, bland, hot, overdone, underdone etc. etc. Some were very naughty. (I refrain from mentioning names because the wild ones are now very respectable and well placed with no trace of wildness. Only their smiles reveal that they have not forgotten their past.)

Nabilah was a sweet and gentle child, discerning learner and thus a good student.

I met her again when she was an "A" Level student in Mastermind in the year 2002. (I had just returned from an absence of two years, which I had spent in USA). All my students of this batch were now young teenagers ready to tackle life with unlimited energy and enthusiasm. Seeing them out of their gray uniforms - they looked different and projected their individual personality. Most of them had matured, so had Nabilah. She was never a great talker, but now with glasses on she looked a perfect philosopher, and so cute too.

When this batch was in eighth grade we took them on a trip to a beautiful tea garden in Sri Mongol in Sylhet. I hope my students still remember it. The girls and the female teachers shared a bungalow while the boys were housed in another bungalow some distance away. We spent a hectic day taking a walk, learning how tea is made and how experts taste it before marketing it (we tried it too), and finally taking to bed after a scrumptious dinner.

I had about 12 wild and not at all sleepy girls including Nabilah under my supervision in a medium-sized guest room. I felt guilty having a bed to myself while my girls unpacked their bed packs on the carpet below. All of them were so happy! This was a dream come true for them - no school to attend the next day, no preparations for a test, no boring chemistry formulae to be memorised. Truly a beautiful memory of true happiness. They simply loved it. I fondly looked down on my group, enjoying their youthful chatter.

Nabilah made her bed next to her best friend and both were happily chatting away. Some of my giggling students invited me to join them down below.

Diplomatically, I refused. (I had no desire to join the mess below). For some time, eating forbidden chips and cookies went on. Then someone started a bout of ghost stories. Not to disturb the "ghostly" atmosphere I pretended to sleep. All of a sudden one of my girls screamed. Apparently a white face had peered in through the window. In seconds I was suffocated under a stack of screaming bodies shouting "Vhoot! Vhoot!".

Guess who pulled me out? Nabilah and a few others who had not given into such monkey business. There are so many memories of this Nabilah and this batch that I could write pages. Always smiling, always calm and serene Nabilah was a joy to teach.

I know words cannot bring comfort to the bereaved family. I can just share in the bitter anguish of the tragedy. Life seems simply meaningless and cruel at times like this.

Yes Allah had chosen her for Jannat earlier than us. She has made the eternal journey pure and true. An earnest plea to her friends, my students and people her age: ponder on life, what it should lead to. Do not fill it up only with fun, entertainment and personal ambition. Take the early departure of your friends as a message that Allah gives in the Quran:

"The life of this world is a test,
There is a Hereafter
And the Lord holds the keys to the unseen
Put your trust in His plan and strengthen your Faith!"
(Surah A'raf)

By Raunak Jahan
(A Teacher)


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