Mukti

The classick adventures of DS and Dr Gonjo 7

Posted in society by jrahman on February 11, 2012

This is the last part of a series by Dhaka Shohor, who visited Desh recently. Please direct comments appropriately. — JR

These posts will contain inappropriate language, rampant racism/sexism/age-ism, random references to things good Bangladeshi boys and girls are not to know about until one day they get married and magically become experts. — DS

Part OnePart twoPart threePart four.  Part five.  Part six.
After the fireworks are done, the music stops and the crowd slowly trek home in the dark. Dr Gonjo and I take a rickshaw to Kolatoli beach where the shops are still alight and the music is still playing loudly. We rent out wooden reclining chairs from boys half our age who never seem to leave the beach.

We are not the only people on the beach. There are other groups of people, possibly with drinks and guitars. Some had already started bonfires and are setting off fireworks at odd moments.

We had wanted to make one of our own, and intended to use one of the Airtel flags flying at the concert for that purpose. That would be our small symbolic protest against their little piece of tax avoidance when they took over Warid. But in the adrenaline following the countdown to midnight and the roar of a 150,000 voices, we forgot those plans and the Airtel flags live to fly another day.

It’s a clear night. Stars are shining overhead. As my eyes get used to the light, I start noticing the details of the people around me. It’s 2 in the morning now and a young couple walks past. The man has his arms around the girl’s waist, gently. They don’t see me in the dark. Dr Gonjo is busy on his phone, talking to a girl sitting in her concrete castle in Dhaka.

The new middle class. Let’s hope it brings with it a time when a woman can walk the streets without fear in the middle of the night. It was my grandfather who once told me that that was the test of civilization – the safety of women in public spaces during the night. I think back on Kalpana returning to her house at 3 in Bombay, and I admit to myself that it is a far more civilized place than Dhaka.

Which hurts. So I light up another cigarette. Number 14 for the day.

Dr Gonjo joins me. He is taking a break from his marathon phone conversation. The couple have moved on.

DS: Eto raatey ekta meye ke beach e haat te dekhbo expect kori nai.

DG: Especially on new year’s eve.

DS: Ahh yes that too.

We both take drags.

DS: It’s funny but it was my grandfather who said something about how women being able to move safely at night is a hallmark for civilized cities.

DG: Why is it funny?

DS: It’s my grandfather. The man who wanted to marry me off at 19!

Dr Gonjo smiles and exhales. The smoke floats up ghostly white against the inky sky.

DG: Age-ism. Bura manush ra maajhey maajhey besh liberal hoy. Being liberal is our tradition.

I think back to my mother. I say nothing until the cigarette finishes.

DS: I had a bit of an epiphany at the concert today.

DG: You’re not about to become a sanyashi I hope. Or start preaching.

DS: Far from it. I’m just wondering if I should write it up or not.

DG: Why not? You like to write.

DS: Well… the epiphany was that it was more important being here and experiencing the atmosphere than telling people we were here.

DG: And in sharing that epiphany with the world, you would be ignoring the lesson you learnt from it, is that it?

DS: Exactly.

He thought for a minute. Took a swig from the bottle. And then said: Ki ar asey? Leikha fel.

 

Shomapto.

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