We have come a long way -- trekked through regimes, climbed up income statuses, and made it out alive when floods surged, cyclones hit, and a plaza came down crumbling.
We are still standing, perhaps a little hunched over from all the weight we have been carrying around, but standing, nevertheless.
See, there is a lot of pressure on us. We are young on the world map, yet, always compared with the older and better-off counterparts like Singapore, even America.
If I had a coin for every time a relative or an acquaintance whined about the uncleanliness of Dhaka city streets and then threw a mild fit, like a spoiled little brat, saying, “Why can’t we be like Singapore?,” (and after only an hour of sitting in traffic, rolled down the window to dispose the chocolate wrapper on the same “very dirty” roads of Dhaka) -- I would have had the fund for a second Padma bridge.
But that’s the thing, comparisons and hissy fits don’t do much.
It only takes the conversation to unsavoury and often repetitive topics: “There is nothing to do (for recreation) in Dhaka,” “Amader kichu e hobe na
,” “Where is the metro rail?” and the likes.
It’s true, we have flaws, shortcomings, unexplained disappearances, restrained freedoms (of speech, expression, and stuff alike). And these are all grave issues that demand solutions and answers.
But we have got to grow up.
I only refer to the whiners and spoiled brats, who are usually of no help and are always obsessed with how their second homes in Singapore/America are much better than their humble 46-years old origin, a little marked piece of land, called Bangladesh.
As the cliché goes, the youth are the nation-builders of tomorrow, so technically your Bangladeshi children are the future of Bangladesh.
But, perhaps, we fail to realise the obvious, and somehow manage to stay true to our oblivious selves; and so we keep throwing hissy fits punctuated with the “amader ki hobe?
Then there is the timeless terror: Politics. Politics has always been a grim subject, and extremely sensitive.
Regardless of what politics has in store for us, what agenda is being designed and executed behind closed doors, the future of this country rests with its 20-40 age group
So much so that while I type out the words now, I have to do a quick double check to not offend, and guarantee that my words and thoughts are to be printed, not erased or taken away before it makes it to print.
So life is fragile in dear, sweet Bangladesh nearing 50 -- but it is not all too bad.
Not too shabby
Few things really do matter when it comes to ensuring a better future, and two of those things are our 20-40 age group, and teenagers and children. I personally think the former is doing quite well, or the best it can do with its limited resources and within confined space.
We have start-ups, young global leaders, entrepreneurs -- basically hard-working and innovative people who decided to not catch that flight out to a foreign land, and invest their lives here. And through all the hardship and obstacles, they are doing well and making a difference.
Staying true to the spirit of 1971
I think, perhaps, 2017 will remain as the year in history which changed Bangladesh forever. The humanitarian feat that we have accomplished -- not just because of the mother of humanity, but also for the residents and locals of Cox’s Bazar -- reflects our true colours.
We as a nationality should no longer be reduced to misdemeanors on international flights, but, possibly, we will be recognised as the people who took in a minority fleeing death. We took in thousands and, even with exhausted resources, we continue to do so.
Even if it takes a decade more for the “international community” to say so, we should already know and appreciate the fact that, Bangladesh, just at 46, has saved thousands of lives, nearing a million, just since this August.
Against all odds, we have done the unthinkable, the impossible, and we did it in a brave stride.
If not this, then I do not know what else can truly reflect the spirit of 1971 -- when Bangladesh was born out of the ashes and blood of the martyrs, when Bangladesh was born in defiance to a dictatorship, in the face of genocide.
If we were to turn our backs on the people fleeing from the same fate we had been subjected to 46 years earlier, we would have betrayed the founders of this country and the freedom fighters.
Although Cox’s Bazar is riddled with NGOs and government agencies trying to find solutions to the humanitarian crisis at our borders, and help the Rohingya who survived so far -- we should think of the reality in longer terms.
The rehabilitation of a single life takes a lot of effort and investment -- now imagine what it would take to give the traumatised Rohingya in hundreds of thousands a chance to live, and also a chance to survive in the long run.
It is a tall order, but if we have made it so far, we can make it even further.
Regardless of what politics has in store for us, what agenda is being designed and executed behind closed doors, the future of this country rests with its 20-40 age group.
Now, it has become imperative that we do all that we can to resolve the plight of the Rohingya on our side of the border (humanitarian obligation), think of more ways to immediately adjust to the traffic outside (increase productivity and ultimately GDP), and also, collectively, talk about and work on climate change impacts (if we sink in future, everything becomes futile. And to fight climate change, the whole saving-the-world-one-seminar-at-a-time will no longer be enough).
There will always be evil and monsters. That is not to say, we accept it and go on with our lives looking up air ticket prices online -- rather that is to say, at 46, we should realise why our boots are already dirty, and why we still cannot take them off to take a breather.
Rather, it is to say, we still have miles to go through murky waters and unchartered territory to get to our utopia. So, it’s best to leave the boots on.
Nusmila Lohani is an Editorial Assistant at the Dhaka Tribune.