Time to ask ourselves a few hard questions
Is it OK to kiss someone on the lips?
What if it was in public? What if it was in a place of learning and education? What if it was between unmarried individuals? What if they were really young?
What if they did not even constitute a couple? What if it wasn’t for love? What if they were friends (with certain benefits)? What if they were strangers?
What if they had never met before? What if it was an act of pure lust? What if it was merely two individuals who, unable to control their sexual urges in a moment of absolute ecstasy, had caved in to their basest desires?
Under which set of conditions, exactly, is it offensive for someone to kiss someone else, in the land of Bangladesh?
What if, when they left, drenched from the rain, they waited for a bus to take them home, only to be rammed into by a wayward, unlicensed bus driver who was in too much of a hurry to overtake, or pick up his next spate of customers? What if they were not even university students, but teenagers, still in high school?
What if they died? What if, due to the recklessness of our country’s traffic system, and the public’s undeniable apathy, negligence, and collusion, they were mere statistics in a long list of men, women, and children who die every day in the face of a speeding bus?
What if they had families back home who, unknowingly the next day, would be mourning the deaths of their children?
What if, instead of going home together, they parted ways? What if they were from different universities? What if the man (or boy) had planted a kiss on his lover before leaving for his hometown?
What if, while waiting for the bus to his hometown, he had been forgotten and so he ran after the bus only to be injured?
What if, in the most brutal and inhumane manner, he was killed and thrown into a canal, so that his body may rot?
What if you realized that a nation’s humanity is not represented by the best amongst them, but the worst?
What if you realized that, in your country, two people, young or old, kissing, be it for love or lust, is more offensive to public sentiment than the persistent barbaric behaviour of your fellow countrymen?
Under what set of circumstances, exactly, would it be offensive for two school-children to be mauled by a bus?
Under what conditions, exactly, would it offend us that we live in a country where two working class individuals, such as a bus driver and his helper, would find it a better option to kill an injured individual and leave him in a ditch than to take him to the hospital and own up to the accident which had caused the injury?
What if the religious and traditional values you hold so dear don’t mean anything? What if the founding of your country was based on ideals -- democracy, secularism, equality -- which your country no longer believes in?
What if you realized that these values, which you thought were being overtaken and superseded by Western media, were, in fact, unnecessary and irrelevant to the continuous moral degradation of your society?
What if you realized that such a morally defunct society had been brought up in spite of those traditional values? What if you realized that traditional values were never enough to hold a country back from being corrupted from within?
What if you realized that morality is ever-changing and ever-evolving and that it is, in fact, your inability to change and adapt to newer circumstances and a newer world which had resulted in a country that held on to its morals only on the surface and forgot them behind closed doors?
What if, when the news went viral of two students kissing in public in Dhaka University’s TSC area, your blood boiled with anger and rage? What if the reason was that this is just not the sort of thing that Bangladeshis should do?
What if, when the news broke of students being killed by buses, you reacted only with a dejected sadness? What if the reason was that this is exactly the sort of thing that Bangladeshis do?
What if we live in a nation which boasts a large homogenous group of people whose judgement of what is good for the country is completely wrong?
What if you yourself are part of this group? What if you yourself are wrong?
SN Rasul is an Editorial Assistant at the Dhaka Tribune. Follow him @snrasul.