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OP-ED: A license to live -- and love

  • Published at 03:24 am November 7th, 2020
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What has happened to our country?

Dearest readers: Kindly consider this piece as the soliloquy of a tormented soul who thinks he deserves a better societal environment to live his life in with his fellow countrymen.

I’m going to present a grim picture.

When I hear that 216 women and children were violated by Bangladeshis in the month of October alone, I don’t find a curtain behind which to hide my face and cry in shame. The pandemic of rapes has become a bigger problem in my mind than the pandemic of the coronavirus.

It has indeed become a pandemic. I’m not sure what has recently happened to us -- the men of Bangladesh. Is the Covid-time trauma blurring our thoughts to think clearly? Why are we then failing to control our animalistic character, fully knowing that rape is a crime, a form of savagery?

Are we gradually becoming a nation of sexually starved and depraved men? Well, what else should we think when even the laws cannot contain this crime?

When I learn that on hearing a rumour, hundreds of men beat an innocent librarian to death in the name of upholding their religion, I become convinced that we surely are suffering from mass mindlessness. 

I can’t forget the picture of that body, lying on the ground, on fire. The picture has now become a symbol of our own brutality, of the darkness in our minds. I feel ashamed to consider myself a member of the human race.

My mind cannot rest even after I tell myself: “You have to digest such happenings; you are a human and you have been sent to this earth to suffer.”

Then the media tells us that 383 people have lost their lives in road accidents across Bangladesh -- again, in the month of October alone. We discussed implementing laws against reckless driving and we discussed training the drivers, but we have failed to understand that these deaths on the road have reached the point where they can be deemed to be murders.

It’s appalling to see that so many deaths are failing to make us come to our senses.

And when I see the footage of thousands of religious-minded people of a certain political party march towards a foreign mission, I am awestruck. Don’t they have anything else to do? 

What a loss of energy and effort! Immediately after, a member of parliament from Narayanganj announces that he will kill the French president and he was even ready to accept a death sentence for his action.

When an elected public representative, and for that matter, a leader, talks about such an extreme form of violence, I don’t know how that influences society. There must be some impact. Will I also not start believing in violence when I see that my leader too believes in it?

A news reporter in Chittagong gets abducted. He shows up after four days, unconscious, tortured, and wounded. When his consciousness returns, he screams that he will quit journalism.

What a woeful atmosphere! We are willing to abduct and torture journalists whose job it is to inform people regarding the crimes we commit. 

Have the criminals become unstoppable?

I am sorry and my apologies to all my readers. You must be thinking that this author has gone insane. 

Why is he bubbling with such intense negativity in his mind? He needs to take a vacation; the Covid-time overwork must have impacted his psyche.

Yes, you’re absolutely right! When I try to focus on the current state of my mind, I see that a mammoth shawl of gloom has engulfed my mental horizons. For me, it has become a Herculean task to keep my sanity intact. 

And I must congratulate those of you who can still keep your sanity intact and move forward in your life.

When I realize that some people have the license to rape, license to kill in the name of religion, license to torture other human beings, license to adulterate food and medicine, license to commit all kinds of heinous crimes, it is indeed difficult for me to lead a life with a calm mind.

My only demand is that I want a license to live, and to love. Nothing less than that. I work hard in my professional arena and earn a living that keeps me and my family financially solvent. 

But the financial comfort is not helping me to keep myself psychologically sound in an environment of rape, murder, torture, abduction, and corruption.

Then it must be my problem. Maybe you should be happy as long as you’re earning a living and being able to feed your family. 

You don’t have to think about anything else; just earn, shop, eat, love your spouse and children, sleep, be happy, and look forward to a better tomorrow.

Yes, that’s absolutely right. In fact, we all want to do just that. Without being bothered by the criminals and the hounds disguised as human beings.

How can I live happily when I know that an enormous number of unfed and homeless people are living out there?

How can I sleep better when I know thousands of Bangladeshi women are being tortured with no hope for justice?

How can I possibly feel safe when I know that my fellow neighbour is always ready to harm me?

These are some old questions we have forgotten to ask ourselves. Because we are struggling to live. 

Ekram Kabir is a yogi, a story-teller and a communications professional. His other works can be found on ekramkabir.com.

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