The world without news! How does it sound? Completely horrifying, isn’t it? This is how I have been living my life in the last few months. I have entirely shut my door on Bangladesh news. Honestly put, I got tired of reading articles related to the ongoing Covid-19 crises. Is there anything more or less significant going on in Bangladesh; ¬ I wish I would know! How does it feel like to live without reading any of the newspapers from Bangladesh; a sacrilegious act! How dare am I writing for a newspaper without reading any of the news it has been covering for years? Why have I not read national newspapers in the last few months? Let me try to bring an analytical point of view from my own perspective.
When we entered the lockdown phase in March this year, we dreaded touching any object coming from outside. Newspapers were not spared either. In our apartment, it was stipulated that outsiders would not be allowed to enter. Hawkers were hard-hit. We had no other way. Although I read many reports that newspapers do not carry the infection of Covid-19, we did not want to take any risks because physical and mental well-being was our topmost priority. I know of many people who have stopped reading print newspapers. No matter how much logic one tries to put in, many people are still not convinced by the idea that newspapers do not carry infections. Online newspaper portals are of big help. But nothing beats the pleasure of reading print newspapers. The tradition of sipping through viscous teas and poring over top headlines is not a culture to get done and dusted with.Human beings are full of contradictions. On the one hand, we are not allowing print newspaper hawkers to enter, but on the other hand, we are going out, sometimes without maintaining any social-distancing protocols. Then, what is the logic, where is our rationale behind putting a curfew on newspaper hawkers?
Our decisions have starved many people. Our financial sector has shrunk. Those have jobs and active businesses are prying on the streets but what about the ones who have lost jobs? How much do we know about them? Not much, I am afraid. The haves have the ascendancy.
When a pandemic hits, the have-nots go out of the reckoning. The supremacists try to cement their position at any cost. Sometimes they try to outwit and outthought their colleagues by resorting to harmful tactics that halt the activities of a running organisation and put a culture of impunity and cupidity in the leadership group. One major problem in Bangladesh is that the least qualified people are sitting at the most qualified positions. No room for dynamic people to cave their way in. When a job field gets tightened, workers become hungry predators trying to grab the best available territory that would help them find better preys. Likewise, human beings do whatever necessary to put a cherry on top of the apparently tasty cake. When there is a toxic work-culture, the best way is to wait and let situations roll through. At the same time, people should start believing that the Almighty has something better written for them. Allah has created this world for testing our patience.
I wonder how people are surviving in Bangladesh! We are a largely populated country. I wonder how people do survive in such a tiny land teeming with so many people. One of the reasons is our land is fertile. We always have sufficient staple foods. When Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina says that we have abundance in foods, her claim is absolutely true and we have the history to support it. Bangladesh, despite the high rate of poverty, do not face food-crisis because of our dependence on rice, fish and vegetables, all of which grow in significant numbers in our part of the world. Unless corruption of a grander nature happens, we will never have food-shortages. Thanks to the prime minister for leading our country well. Even the Guardian newspaper published from the Great Britain has acknowledged the efforts put by Hasina in combating Covid-19. Oops! I am reading foreign newspapers online.
Coming back to my first paragraph! How could we attract people to read newspapers? We need to make newspaper reports more interesting and insightful. We are too much formulaic with our writing patterns. What we do as a nation is we tend to put someone on top in one minute, and then pull him/her down in another minute. There is no middle path in our treatment towards people. Our reports are not always objective and based on facts. Please note that we now have much bigger concerns to worry about. Talking about Covid-19 is one step back. Now we need to go two steps ahead. At the end of the day, we all need, as Poet Kaiser Haq writes “Peace! Peace! Peace!” and a spiritual connection between body and soul.
May Allah bless us all!
The writer is lecturer, department of English, Chittagong Independent University