The truth about Saint Martin's
Story: Osama Rahman . Illustration: Sadia Islam
Saint Martin's Island is one the new holy cows of Bangladesh and the reason we risk getting destroyed by going to war against Myanmar. The small island on the Bay of Bengal is raved about for its beauty and being the only coral reef in Bangladesh. You have all heard about the blue seas and breath-taking scenery that is synonymous with the Island, unless of course you live under a rock or on Saint Martin's. Yes, Saint Martin isn't all that it's cracked up to be. Having just returned from an arduous 3-day trip, this correspondent brings you first hand information on what to really expect.
The Killer Pack of Feral Dogs and the Blue Seas
You all know that the waters around the Saint Martin beaches are really blue and green. They are also crystal clear. Yes, you have seen them on the brochures, Facebook photos and travel guides. Fortunately, that's all true. Unfortunately, it's what you cannot see that really matters. The beautiful beaches are literally ruled by packs of feral dogs. Although locals say the dogs have never killed anyone, you can be sure they played a key role in all the men that drowned or were shot by the guards of Myanmar. The dogs seem vicious and are constantly arguing and fighting, growling at each other. Although they move away when you get close to them, they seem to be always around. They also follow you in the dark. Saint Martin's is probably home to more dogs than people. Remember Cujo? Yes, Rabies is a real threat that no one seems bothered about. There are also very few cats on the Island. What will the dogs eat now? Probably, you.
The Honest-to-God Village People Myth
You always hear that village people are the salt of the earth right? How they are innocent, honest and good-hearted? Well, you are just hearing lies. The natives at Saint Martin's are probably the worst lot around, apart from us City folks, of course. The Saint Martin's natives will lie to your face in that annoying way where you know they are lying but can't do anything about it. They put very little effort into concealing the fact that they are lying and trying to rip you off. They will always charge you more and laugh when you try to bargain. Your only form of transport is the rickshaw where a sort of unspoken oligopoly exists, everyone colluding to charge the same damn fare. Also, if you leave something behind unattended for even a second, it will be gone. They will claim to have not seen anything, how they just returned a phone this morning and all that, but you can tell they took it. But you can't prove it. Want to report it at the Police Station? Hah, don't make me laugh. There possibly is no such thing.
So Many People Go to Saint Martin's, It Must Be Highly Developed
You probably confused Saint Martin's with Hawaii. Saint Martin's is not developed. It has one road, count it, one road and no vehicles except Rickshaw Vans and some bikes. There a few restaurants all of which serve the same thing. There is also one bazaar. And all the products usually come from Myanmar for some reason. So, buying amenities like Shampoo, soap and talcum powder become difficult considering how you probably can't read Myanmarese or whatever the language is called. Most hotels also do not have commodes in their toilet. There is also no electricity, and we are betting you didn't know that. All the hotels generate electricity from diesel run generators, which are turned off usually around midnight and started at around 1 in the afternoon. Also, once on the Island, you cannot escape, until 3 pm, the only time when the trawlers and launches operate. Yes, you are literally stuck. You can always hire a speedboat during an emergency. But we wonder how much the simple folks will charge, knowing they are your only option.
That's merely a summary of Saint Martin's. Here's another interesting bit of trivia: The ground level and sea level are so much on par, sometimes the sea water rushes onto the land and given that the island has no sewage system, the blue sea is basically one big toilet. Of course, you will find samples of the natives' diet all over the beach. But, if you can toss all that aside, Saint Martin's is really worth the visit.
It was a disappointing turnout this week and the one's that did turn up, missed the pirate-y essence we were hoping for. However, it's a good example of how different people see different things and the story below was well crafted. For next week, the topic is 'Purple Haze'. Write-ups should be between 350-500 words and sent to: email@example.com. Good luck.
By Namira Shameem
'Arrr! Y-yeh-h dare to go a-againssst mee-e, ye s-s-sufferrr!'
He galumphed into the courtyard, dragging the wailing woman by her hair.
With one forceful push, he managed to make the emaciated figure land in the puddle of kerosene he had prepared for her.
He fumbled frenetically in his pockets, and a wicked grin spread across his face as he found his desired object which would impeccably finish her off, along with her new-found effrontery, which had already taken a toll on his reputation.
He slid the match across the striker, exerting so much pressure that the stick cracked. He seized another and struck the rectangular patch several times before it finally lit. Carried away by euphoria, he yelled, 'Ahhahaha'.
Devoured by his madness and inner turmoil, he threw his head back, baring his plaque-covered teeth and laughed maniacally-so loud that it drowned out the crackling of the flames that licked the writhing body in front of him; silencing the screams of the wounded and dying.
By this time, a circle of onlookers had gathered around him. He watched them suspiciously from the corner of his eyes. They were transfixed; inert and dumb.
Flames had engulfed her body already, edaciously eating its way through her flesh, leaving a mass of black behind. They slowly approached and lingered around her neck, before swallowing her completely, like a person eating the last piece of his favourite food, slowly, enjoying every morsel. It also allowed her to give a despairing glance, get one last glimpse of her surroundings: the silent witnesses who did nothing to help her, and her own husband, enslaved and blinded by alcohol.
He caught her take that brief glimpse. Suddenly, the powerful realization of what he had done overwhelmed him. His already slurred words were now trapped in his oesophagus, unwilling to come out.
He gazed at the people around him, forming a barricade around him, threatening for sure, yet scared themselves. Taken aback by the reluctance of these people to react, he tried to get on his feet, taking off his jacket to dab at his wife's face, a vain attempt to preserve what he valued most.
His unsteady feet would carry him no further; he landed with a thump at his wife's feet, the world still spinning like the ride in an amusement park. He cast a pleading look to them-the colourful spectators who had gathered, as if to watch a circus.
His look was received by none, as he watched the spell break and the crowd disperse one by one, some looking at their watches, walking away as if nothing had happened. He knew, he would never be punished or jailed for it, it would become one of those secrets which everyone knew, but none really talked about.