Wednesday, April 24, 2024


Dhaka Tribune

Of good versus evil

Update : 24 Apr 2013, 07:28 PM

When I was a child, I always believed good triumphed over evil. There was never a question of it being otherwise. That was just the way things were. People who were good came out on top. People who were kind got rewards. People who loved were loved back.

These are the unfortunate lessons that my parents taught in every bedtime story they told me when I was young, and in every lecture they sternly gave me when I so much as put a toe out of line.

Secretly, I always wondered why all the bad characters in the books that I read, and in the movies that I watched had more power and seemed infallible, but I never allowed myself to question it, because – let’s face it – who in their right mind wants to believe that bad can overpower good?

Who, indeed?

This morning I woke up to the news that a multistorey building in Savar had collapsed and I suddenly thought of good versus evil. I thought about all those garment factory workers trapped in that building trying to get out and I realised something. Good doesn’t exist anymore, at least not in Bangladesh, because good is being killed. Good is dying in garments factory fires in Ashulia, and being murdered in the streets. Good is screaming in that building in Savar, begging for someone to save them.

I don’t know whose fault this is, but what I do know is that we are all responsible to a certain extent. About 117 people lost their lives last November in the Ashulia fire. And although we all updated our Facebook statuses, and all felt bad, and all talked about what a shame it was, guess what? We forgot about it. Because here we are just five months shy of that horrific incident and we’re back to square one. Another avoidable tragedy in which the prospect of making money takes precedence over people’s lives, where the voices of the poor fall on deaf ears, where their lives aren’t valued and they are basically collateral damage.

Right now the death toll is at 107 and rising. People are still trapped in the building and I cannot help but wonder how many more incidents like this we will have to witness.

How many more unnecessary deaths before someone has to pay for it? How much more shame must we feel before the repercussions of these wrongdoings, of these heinous misdeeds, come back to haunt us?

But we are not completely lost. All over the country, people are frantically donating blood to help out the victims, and are gathered in front of the building trying to get the trapped garment workers out.

So I am wrong. Good does exist in Bangladesh, but I am left with the same question that I had when I was a little girl – how much power does good really have over evil, because from where I am standing, it looks like the people who are wanting to do good are constantly struggling and coming up against barriers, while evil barely breaks out in a sweat.

How much power do we, as the mere citizens of this very troubled and lost nation hold? And what can we do to ensure that a tragedy of this nature can never happen again?

Srabonti Narmeen Ali is a writer and singer 

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