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Dhaka Tribune

Dying by the numbers

Update : 27 Nov 2016, 02:38 PM

“Ihad not thought death had undone so many.”

This line from TS Eliot’s The Waste Land has been buzzing in my head, while watching the long rows of dead people -- both physically and spiritually dead. Though Eliot principally talked about the spiritual emptiness of modern man, nowadays it can be interpreted literally also.

What a waste of young lives all over the world. Wherever I turn, I get no respite from news of unnatural deaths.

It seems that the world is on a killing spree, claiming the lives of young people every which way, especially of children and girls from the underprivileged classes.

They are dying in the most brutal ways, with fire being involved in one way or the other. In most countries, bombing them seems to be quite popular. In Bangladesh, rape, death, and workplace fires are commonplace.

Why exactly do people send their children, especially girls, to work in unsafe environments despite the possibility of fatal accidents and deaths at the workplace? Don’t they love them?

Even girls as young as 10 are sent to completely unknown households as servants, I mean, “domestic help.” We are a civilised nation after all, and slavery does not exist in societies as “modern” as ours.

Why are we kidding ourselves? Calling these girls “slaves” is going too far.

They are not slaves, they’re punching bags who exist solely to be beaten up and humiliated at the hands of their masters to the point where they want to kill themselves.

In factories, the scenario is, surprisingly, better. The girls who lose their lives to fire after fire do not have to die alone.

At least, they have someone next to them as they die in agonising pain.

Why exactly do people send their children, especially girls, to work in unsafe environments despite the possibility of fatal accidents and deaths at the workplace? Don’t they love them?

It’s not as ridiculous as it sounds -- have you forgotten the fire incident in Tazreen Garments, or the more recent fire at an Ashulia gas lighter factory?

The so-called “civilised” and “enlightened” people who research, survey, analyse the global politics that go behind such suffering and then hold seminars and/or workshops over these issues are only in it to flaunt how scholarly they are.

These fools don’t care if these poor girls live or die, but, then again, who does?

Not their own damn parents, that’s for sure.

Don’t you know that members of the oh-so-respectful “civil society” are neutral in their judgments and stances? Didn’t you get the memo? They make claims such as: “Yes, it is true that the poor people are suffering, but they’re not completely blameless for their own misfortunes.”

And thus the balance is maintained. All is well in the world. Om.

So the victims should not expect the “progressive” folk to be of any help, which is actually a good thing in a way. It teaches the poor to think for themselves -- “give a man a fish” and all that.

But, how can these people, who are constantly looking down the deep yawning chasm that is poverty, manage that time to think over critical issues like the well-being of their own kids, issues that even the greatest economists in the world have been unable to solve?

Pardon my logic, but working 10 to 12 hours a day leaves little-to-no time for pensive brooding over any issue, more so if you’re chasing that job with another.

Oh, don’t be mistaken, I am lamenting for them. In one sense, we can spin this into a positive thing.

You must have noticed that it’s the poor who are mostly responsible for the rapid increase in population in our country.

So maybe we should all view these unfortunate deaths as part of a wider culling.

For every five girls that die in a factory fire, our Shonar Bangla gets to breathe a little easier.

I recall the comment of Winston Churchill, who said, during the Bengal famine in 1943: “I hate Indians. They are a beastly people with a beastly religion. The famine was their own fault for breeding like rabbits.”

When the Delhi government sent a telegram to Churchill painting a picture of the situation and the number of people who had died, his only response was: “Then why hasn’t Gandhi died yet?”

Monswita Bulbuli is a Sub-Editor at the Dhaka Tribune.

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