Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Thursday, September 08, 2011

The Dhaka Diaries

By Nayeem Islam

Date: 2 days before Eid

Dear Diary,

I hear the sound of footsteps all coming from Sadarghat, Kamalapur and Gabtoli. Yes, the last batches of my citizens are leaving for Eid. They do this before every Eid but even I did not expect them to leave in such numbers this time around. I thought those bipedal primates had travelled enough on their battered roads and had lost enough lives on highways to understand the perils of their journey. And in any case, why would they put their bodies through sheer torture just for a few days of merriment in the countryside and that too by paying inflated ticket prices? It seems these higher primates are no different than the ones in Mirpur who amuse audience by their usual monkey business.

Over the last few days a mass exodus of 10-12 lakh primates has metamorphosed me into an inanimate concrete jungle. Yet even seven days back, I was buzzing with the exuberance of life everywhere. Every concrete structure was reverberating with the pulse of life. Now, amidst the emptiness I stand alone with my colourful festoons and flags with magnificent lightning illuminating my garish adornments at night time. It's ironic that I have to spend a time of great joy and happiness in a gloomy atmosphere devoid of my residents.

Signing off,

Date: 1 day before Eid
Dear Diary,
Apparently mankind is a weird bunch. For past 400 years, I have seen the kings, queens, nawabs, governors and politicians struggle to take control of me. Today I am ruled in turns by two detestable, power hungry groups. Besides being a habitat of higher primates, I also act as sanctuary for mosquitoes. For my current pitiable state though, I only blame my newest settlers and those two miserable groups. I have been treated more like a money mine rather than a city that deserves some respect. With great regret, I must admit that the glory days of Jahangir Nagar or Dacca are a thing of the past. My glorious past is now limited within the confines of history books or antiques.

I once boasted about the playgrounds, parks and vast expanses of open space where children played. Apparently empty spaces represent bad bargains for my residents so they have been replaced by money spinning concrete structures. Even my lifelines, the Buriganga and other rivers, have not been spared. From a bustling metropolis, I am quickly transforming into perhaps the world's biggest slum. And all that only because of some avaricious primates who wanted to become millionaires without participating in Ke Hote Chai Kotipoti. My current pitiable state is only a testament of their greed and neglect. They continue to talk about MRTs, flyovers and elevated expressways but forget to even provide me with the bare minimum required for survival.

Am I babbling about this only because I am alone and devoid of proper company? I keep on forgetting; loyalty is too much to ask for these days. 400 years is a lot of time and I might be losing my mind sooner rather than later. So age seems to be more than a number to me now.
Till next time,

Date: Eid day
Dear Diary,
The hubbub of the Eid congregation cheered up my Eid. I tried contacting my friends throughout the world only to discover that my internet connection has been severed. It wouldn't be fixed until everyone comes back from villages. I am worried about brother Tripoli. He has not had a good year. I hope that the dictator is already behind bars! I also have doubts whether brother Damascus is having a good time too. All of my Arab brothers have some headaches on to deal with this Eid. Wish them all a happy Eid anyway.

Date: Day after Eid
Dear Diary,
Did you hear the news of Dhaka? Kolkata Didi called on Skype seven days ago to inform me that I will have guests in a few days! A pleasant surprise I should say. I hear a turban clad man from Delhi will visit me with five of his cohorts. I hope it's not the loose cannon of commentary who criticized our cricket team in the World Cup. Anyway he wouldn't be called a guest if he ever made it here, more like a gatecrasher.

Usually my guests include primates with qualities which are not normally found in lesser beings. And I hear that two groups of people are coming from Argentina and Nigeria at the same time. From what I understand, all they will do here is chase after a single ball and they are going to do it for ninety minutes. Some of my foolish citizens will apparently spend ridiculous sums of money just to witness this meaningless act in the field! Can't really figure out why the higher primates are so obsessed with a spherical ball.

Date: 6 days after Eid
Dear Diary,
They are coming back! After all, they need money. They can't live away from me for long. In a few days time, I will be restored to my former state. Every nook and corner of mine will once again buzz with life. And I will live happily ever after. Until the next Eid returns and I am covered all over by the blood, dung and other remains of bovines!



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