1. Students out on the streets: The last days of July 2018 witnessed the sad failure of the Bangladesh government to deliver justice to its people when reckless drivers drove over students standing on the pavements. While a minister representing the government joked about the accident, the law enforcement agencies remained deaf and dumb on their responsibilities of protecting people’s lives, the incident brought school children out on the streets to voice their frustrations. Media and the Facebook posts of thousands of children demanding safety on the roads of Dhaka represent people who are desperate and shame to the ruling authorities. Simultaneously, it is a glory to watch our children being brave and aware of their fundamental right to live in a country whose government has been elected by voters, most likely their parents and guardians. The message to the children from the dangerous roads is, “Might is right.” Is that the lesson we want to impart to the future generation of Bangladesh?
The mind goes back to the Language movement of 1952 when students of Dhaka University rose to protest against the Pakistani government’s decision of making Urdu the sole national language. Those were days of seeds sown that ultimately led to our war of freedom, and to become the citizens of an independent Bangladesh. I get goosebumps just thinking, ‘What does the rising of school children mean in the present time?’ Does it not show how arrogant the authorities are to the safety of its people, people who elected them with the trust of giving them a safe life? Are the school children to teach the concerned authorities how to enforce law and order on the streets of Dhaka? Wait a minute; the whole world is getting a confusing message about the nation of Bangladesh.Now that the news of the sad plight of the traffic and streets in Bangladesh has gone viral, perhaps the government seriously needs to think about a solution. If the concern for lives has not moved the concerned authorities, perhaps the power of a united movement against injustice should. The history of Bangladesh can trace back to many such milestones. There is chaos and corruption regarding the driving licenses of the drivers operating on the public streets, the over packed roads, failure of checking the traffic irregularities, and the overall lack of planning for safer streets have made the metropolitan city into a living hell where people die like flies or cockroaches. The alarming fact is that last week’s death of students by reckless drivers is not a one-time incident, it happens again and again. Accidents are supposed to warn us about safety and teach us lessons about how not to repeat our mistakes. When and how our children will be able to go to schools again without fears of being run down by drivers?
2. Familiar / unfamiliar
At times I am an alien to myself for the moments and the thoughts I have left behind. There is a shadow of myself that agrees and disagrees with the words and deeds of the physical self. This constant bombardment of who I am, the life I live, the social interactions, the rights and the wrongs; all that makes me walk on eggshells. Is there ever a constant familiar world that I can snuggle back to every night? So far it has been my mother’s lap and the baby me that did not have to think for the self. Alas, though life was good in infancy, the familiar in the closeness of the loved one, there is no going back.We get caught with the familiar things around us; life is forever a transition. Time is the greatest master in this phenomenon of changing and makes others in its stride. The home that is supposed to be my known station does not find the same sunlight coming through the bedroom window. Every day heralds a new life, with new happenings of its own. For instance, when entering our street, the sight of the ash house with its painted maroon windows fills me with a sense of belonging. That house represents happiness with my loved ones, and it is my home. I am grateful for it all, and yet while the frame of the house looks familiar, life is a metamorphosis from within and outside. The grandchildren are growing up and with that comes waves of changes inside the house. Clothes are seeing a shifting of sizes, and diapers too. A year back it was 2t shirts, and now they are 3ts. The feeding bottles and the infant formula that crowded the kitchen counter are no longer needed. Lots of outgrown baby stuff has gone to Goodwill, and perhaps other babies are using them. Car seats are getting upgraded, and the nursery rhymes of the car radio replaced by songs from Frozen and Sounds of Music. The parents try to remember their songs while on the road, while the kid’s favourite numbers keep the kids quiet. Me, the grandmother watch life revolving while I count the years on the calendar.
Of the familiar and the unknown aspects in life, the seasonal changes in nature take the cream in my present station in Massachusetts. The games of weather and colours in nature make every sunrise like a new adventure. A few months back, the spring brought crocuses, and before I knew those flowers were gone and the daffodils came. The bare trees became full of green, rabbits that were in hiding for the snow and cold, started to show antics in our yard. The people in the streets took to sandals and sundresses in place of boots and coats as the winter days changed to the warmer ones. Life in New England at times feels like a whirlwind movie, the characters being us, including myself, the lucky one. All of those make me look up at the sky, and say, “I am grateful for the life I have.”
Tulip Chowdhury writes from Massachusetts, USA