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| vo l 2 Issu e 2 | FRI D AY, m ay 9, 2014

4 becoming a mum 8 tagore: the painter 12 aroom of her own


CONTENTS

1

A Weekly Pro ducti on of

DhakaTribune

Volume 2 | Issue 2 | May 9, 2014

Editor Zafar Sobhan

IN THE NEWS

Features Editor Sabrina Fatma Ahmad

2 This Week

Assistant Magazine Editor Rumana Habib

3 Say What?

Weekend Tribune Team Promiti Prova Chowdhury Faisal Mahmud Shah Nahian Syeda Samira Sadeque Adil Sakhawat James Saville Farhana Urmee Art Direction/Photography Syed Latif Hossain Cartoons Syed Rashad Imam Tanmoy Rio Shuvo

FEATURES 4 Mother’s Day Becoming a mum 5 Mother’s Day Motherhood:

7

Then and now

Listology Meet the Polymaths

Contributors Quamrul Abedin Jennifer Ashraf Kashmi Tausif Sanzum

paint

11 Gallery Endless creativity

Colour Specialist Shekhar Mondal Kazi Syras Al Mahmood

12 Feature A room of her own 15 First person Feeling like a fake

Production Masum Billah

Circulation Wahid Murad Website dhakatribune.com/weekend facebook.com/WeekendTrib

7 Listology Meet the Polymaths 8 Gallery Tagore: A poet in ink and

Graphics Mohammad Mahbub Alam Sabiha Mahmud Sumi

Advertising Shahidan Khurshed

6 Mother’s Day Memories of Ma

Bangladeshi

17

17 Health End of antibiotics

HEALTH the end of antibiotics?

20 Interview A poet and historian

REGULARS

Email your letters to: weekend@dhakatribune.com

16 Legalese 18 Stay In

Editor’s note

Happy belated birthday to Tagore, and happy early Mother’s Day! Everyone knows our native Nobel-winner was a great man of letters. In our centerpiece gallery, we showcase one of his lesser known talents: painting (pg 8-11). Celebrate Ma with a suite of stories about giving birth, balancing work and family, and remembering the moms no longer with us (pg 4-6). Tour a Dhaka retirement

19 Go Out home, where three charming, independentminded grandmothers bestow valuable homespun philosophy (pg 12-13). An NRB ponders how to instill Bangali culture in her daughters, when she herself feels culturally disconnected. We also explore the alarming development of drug-resistant bacteria (pg 17) and meet the poet-activist Yusuf Muhammed (pg 20). Have a great weekend.

About the cover This (untitled) painting by Rabindranath Tagore perfectly encapsulates the warmth and spirit of Mother’s Day.

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2 In the news

DeVASTATING landslide in Afghanistan A displaced Afghan family receives aid near the site of a landslide at the Argo district in Badakhshan province on Sunday. The United Nations on Sunday put the death toll from Friday’s massive landslide in Badakhshan province, at up to 500. Local officials say the number killed

could be as high as 2,700. The landslide triggered by heavy rain, comes as about a third of the country has been inundated by floodwaters. The UN said the number of people affected across the northern provinces had risen to about 75,000. REUTERS

34 Muslims killed in Assam Nigerians protest massabduction of schoolgirls

Members of various civil society organisations protest the delay in securing the release of the abducted schoolgirls who were kidnapped in Abuja on April 30. Dozens of protesters gathered outside Nigeria’s parliament on Wednesday, calling on security forces to search harder for 200 schoolgirls abducted by Islamist militants in the war-ravaged northeast over two weeks ago

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when the kidnappers duped dozens of Nigerian schoolgirls into thinking they were soldiers come to evacuate them. Gunmen suspected to be members of the radical Islamist movement Boko Haram swooped on Chibok town in Borno state and on its nearby all-girls government secondary school late on Monday. REUTERS

Boys from Muslim communities eat their meals inside a tent at a relief camp in Narayanguri village in the northeastern Indian state of Assam. India deployed troops in Assam last Saturday after Muslims were gunned down in three days of what police said were attacks by Bodo tribal militants, who resent the presence of settlers they claim are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. Police on Sunday said the

death toll from the Assam attacks now stood at 34 after they found the bodies of two 30-year-old women floating in the Beki river near Narayanguri village, where the worst of the attacks took place. Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi, the prime ministerial front-runner in India’s mammoth general election, on Sunday reiterated his strong stance against illegal immigrants, just days after a wave of sectarian killings in the north-eastern state of Assam. REUTERS

Dozens die in Ukraine crisis

A woman reacts as she stands near the entrance to a burnt trade union building, the site of recent street battles between pro-Russian and pro-Ukrainian supporters, in the Black Sea port of Odessa. Pro-Russian militants stormed a Ukrainian police station in Odessa on Sunday and freed 30 fellow activists as the prime minister blamed police corruption there for dozens of deaths in rioting on Friday. REUTERS


Say What?

3

Bangladeshis make Gunday worst-rated movie ever With a 1.4/10 rating on IMDb, the world’s biggest movie database, the controversial Bollywood film “Gunday” has managed to become one of the worst rated movies of all time. In an attempt to downgrade the film’s rating because of its ignorance of the history of Bangladesh’s

Liberation War – displayed in the film by references to Bangladesh as a byproduct of an India-Pakistan war – activists of the Gonojagoron Moncho created Facebook groups and Twitter channels asking Bangladeshis to come together and protest by giving the film bad ratings all over the Internet.

Aging well Rachel Sussman, a Brooklyn photographer and conceptual artist, has spent a decade finding and documenting the oldest living things in the world for a book. Among the 30 subjects she included were: a 100,000-year-old sea grass meadow located in a UNESCO-protected waterway between the

Photo: Reuters

islands of Ibiza and Formentera in Spain; a 13,000 year-old eucalyptus tree, the oldest single tree in the world located on a Swedish mountain; and a 13,000 year-old underground baobab forest in South Africa, which was subsequently bulldozed to make way for a road.

Photo: Syed Latif Hossain

Mosquitoes: Better killers than men Mosquitoes are responsible for taking more than 725,000 human lives a year. These little insects have left behind crocodiles, tigers, lions and sharks in the race to kill people. They kill even more

humans then humans do! Microsoft founder Bill Gates’ foundation dubbied them the world’s deadliest creatures on April 25th, on the occassion of World Malaria Day.

Hacking for love A Saudi man hacked a government website to post a message congratulating his wife on her graduation. Addressing the Saudi Commission of Electricity and Cogeneration, he apologised

and explained that he only wanted to celebrate his wife’s achievement. He also left a message for the owners of the hacked page, offering to help them identify security gaps on their site.

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4 MOTHER’S DAY

Becoming a mum Syeda Samara Mortada relives her journey into motherhood

T

he day I found out I had conceived was one of the best, yet most confusing, days of my life. I didn’t know what or how to feel. Two home pregnancy tests had come out negative. I had stopped menstruating, so I thought my worst fears had come true and that my lady parts had stopped performing their job. I went for help to a renowned hospital in town. Without letting me lay out my case, the gynecologist asked me to do several tests – costing around Tk20,000 – which mysteriously included a chest X-ray but not a basic urine test. She concluded I was unable to conceive. But on the ultrasound, a tiny bag-like thing appeared, suggesting an early pregnancy. I did not go back to that doctor, but sought advice from several others, one of whom said I might lose the baby due to the X-ray I had undergone! Fortunately, in a subsequent test, the baby’s heartbeat sounded out like fresh raindrops hitting windows.

Nine months The next nine months were nerve racking. I fought several battles: sleepless nights, an aching back, night sickness instead of morning sickness, over-concerned relatives, living by myself, and a constant fear that losing my fetus sized child would mean I had done something wrong. Every expecting mother has it rough, but it felt as though my own battles were ocean-sized nightmares that refused to go away. Next I found out that my placenta was not where it was supposed to be; it was lowlying. IT looked like my child had already revealed a stubborn streak! I changed doctors, going back to the old hospital but this time to a reputable, much sought after gynecologist (whose appointment was almost impossible to get… but that is a different story). She dismissed my panic over the low–lying placenta with a wave of her perfectly manicured hand, as well as my still-lingering

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fears about that early X-ray. At the next ultrasound, my placenta was exactly where it was supposed to be. Finally, someone up there decided to cut me some slack.

Labour of love On November 17 at 7:30am, three days before my due date, my waters broke and the contractions began simultaneously. I woke my husband from his dreams. He packed his bag in a matter of minutes (mine had been packed for a month) and we set off for the hospital along with my father in-law. Before leaving the house, I had a piece of toast – which was a mistake. We had to stop three times in the midst of chaotic Dhaka traffic so that I could puke. At this point the contractions only lasted a few seconds and were fifteen minutes apart, which gave me enough time to call my mom and some close friends to say that I was indeed in labour. We finally reached the hospital. When I was finally changed and in bed, my contractions were almost a minute long and came at frequent intervals. By then it was 9:30am. The doctor on duty said that I was four centimeters dilated and that I had six centimeters to go before the baby would be ready to come out into this beautiful world. I asked how long that could take, and the answer was less inspiring: on average, labour was around eight hours long, although it could take longer for some people.

Push through the pain They let my mother be with me, which was some relief, although the next few hours were nothing short of hell. I lay there in pain, screaming, cursing, banging my hands against the steel barriers of my bed, and asking my mother when it was all going to end. She repeated the same word over and over again: Soon. By then, my contractions were a couple of minutes apart and lasted for what felt like eternity. They let my husband into the room, and the pain in

Photo: Zubin Faisal

Every expecting mother has it rough, But it felt as though my own battles were ocean-sized nightmares that refused to go away his eyes made me realise that my pain was in fact real. He didn’t know I was having such severe contractions, and he asked me why I hadn’t taken an epidural. I said I thought they would give it to me themselves. He went to ask the doctors, who said since I

hadn’t asked for it, they assumed that I didn’t need one. By then an epidural was too risky, so I had to bear the pain till I didn’t go completely numb. They made him leave soon as I was in my last stage, and from then on I was completely on my


5 own. From 12pm-3pm, I stared at the clock and wished the baby would pop its head out before the estimated eight hours. They gave me an exercise: stand up, slightly tilt forward with my hands on the bed, crouch down, and every time I contracted, push with all my strength. I’ll skip the gory details, but I did this on and off for roughly three hours. I cannot explain how painful this was. I continued to do this and at one point it felt like the weight had shifted up front. After a couple of more repetitions – standing, crouching, pushing – I felt like the baby was about to come out. I told the nurses, and suddenly everyone around me began running around in a frenzy, making me feel like a VIP for the first time since I entered the room. They asked me to lie down and not do anything anymore.

Deliverance Something clicked, something clanked, something cut, something bled and they asked me to give a few more pushes. I did and soon, at exactly 3:30pm, they put a cupcake shaped girl in my arms. She was looking at me with those big bright black eyes of hers, expecting me to say or do something, but I couldn’t. I was still at a loss of words when they took the baby back from me to check her, while they stitched my lady parts back in place. Finally around 4pm, they lay my baby next to me and pushed my bed out of the labour room through a ward. When the door opened and I could see eager friends and family waiting for us. Cameras clicked, I saw some smiles and heard a few tears. While I scanned each face to grasp and remember every reaction, so did my baby. With her curious eyes, she witnessed every face that had come to welcome her, as if she wanted to store this memory some place safe so that someday she too could pen down her thoughts, like her mother. My mother often says what her mother told her: Women are not only mentally stronger than men, but physically stronger as well. She also said women gradually forget the pain they go through during labour. Although I agree with the former, I cannot agree with the latter. It’s been four months since that morning, and I still remember the pain and panic I felt all over my body, like it just happened yesterday. But undoubtedly, no other feeling compares to the one I feel when my daughter looks around for me, and smiles when her eyes finally meet mine.

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Motherhood:

Then and now

How the concerns of being a Bangladeshi woman have evolved over generations Tasnuva Amin Nova

B

y the age of 22 – the age I am now – my grandmother was married and already expecting her second child. She had given up school when she was 16 to marry the man her father had chosen for her, who she did not meet until the day of her wedding. Two years later began what she calls the “magical” phase of her life, which consisted entirely of raising her children. She eventually had 12. Meanwhile, I have no plans of getting married in the near future. If I were to follow my grandmother’s path in today’s world, that means I would get married right after finishing my O-levels, instead of doing A-levels and going to university. I’d spend my final teenage years and all of my 20s and 30s – the prime years for building my dream career – bearing and rearing children. Of course the socioeconomic reality for our grandmothers was very different. Falling child mortality and rising costs associated raising children have helped Bangladesh reduce birth rates very effectively over the last two decades, as the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals shows. The average of six children per mother came down to just two in 2010. In the case of 28-year-old housewife Nusrat Tasnim (not her real name), her third pregnancy left her fraught with financial worry. “Much like any unplanned pregnancy, the news of another baby was very unsettling to me in the first few months. I wanted to ensure that all my children were raised in the same way – with equal opportunities. The basic costs of raising children – like schooling, food, and health care – are rising so fast that our income can hardly accommodate a newcomer with

Photo: Courtesy

open arms,” said Nusrat with a heavy heart. “On top of that, competition in the job market is so fierce that you need to spend a lot of time and effort supporting your kids to ensure that they are perfectly trained to face the world,” she said. More women than ever are working and raising children at the same time, but this is not without consequences. Sharmin Sultana (not her real name), a management executive in a multinational finance company, married when she was 30. When she and her husband started thinking about having children, the couple got a rude shock: Sharmin was told she could not become a mother, at least not without spending a fortune on medical treatment. Sharmin’s says: “The best years of my life were devoted to my education and work. Now after finding out that I cannot become a mother, I think I should have thought about having children much earlier in life. Who knows, things could have been different.” My own mother was a masters student when she had her first child, just two months before her final exams. Less

than a year later, I came along. She declined great job offers one after another, including a scholarship in China. Five years later, when we were grown-up enough, she would leave us with my aunts who lived with us to go to the university, where she was a teacher for more than twelve years. In my mother’s words: “There is a price you pay for motherhood, and I had the option to decide how much and what I wanted to give up for my children. It is a full-time job, that pays well too. I do not regret my choices when I look at how my kids turned out, selfreliant and confident.” When I put myself in my mother’s shoes, I feel like crying out of guilt and fear. I cannot imagine, even for a second, giving up years of hard work or “toning down” my plans, in order to raise children. Maybe as a 22-year-old I am being too cynical about an event that still seems miles away. Maybe the universe has special exceptions for mothers who wish to make anything happen, who manage to get the best of both worlds, and enjoy motherhood and an independent status.

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6 mother’s day

Memories of Ma

In honour of Mother’s Day this Sunday, those who have lost their moms recount their favourite memories Syeda Samira Sadeque

I

believe our mothers travel from their generation to ours in their quest to understand us, be there for us, and love us in their own little ways. It’s an ideological transition, the kind that is most difficult to adjust to, but they do it – or try to, at least. They stand up for us, laugh at our jokes which may or may not be funny, and hug us to try and understand our troubles, though they may make no sense to them. For many of us, our mothers are irreplaceable. That is how, even in death, they remain in our lives with their memories, teachings, and tokens. We pay tribute to mothers who have passed away, with words written by their own children.

Promiti Prova Chowdhury Dear Ma: I’m not sure if you know, but I am a writer now. We never really discussed journalism as a choice for my career back then, did we? However, we did talk about “singer.” Remember in my class II Bangla book? Under “tomar jiboner lokkho,” it already had “doctor” written in, and all other kids in class memorised it as it was. Knowing my passion for sargams and the harmonium, you changed it to “singer” and worked with me to rewrite the whole thing. I walked into class and boldly declared that I wanted to be a great singer, not a doctor. I got a double star for that essay! You were the kind of mother who, in this unique way, taught her young daughter to have an opinion and pursue her dreams.

Sadaf Min

My most cherished memory with my mother was the day of my birthday, when my friends came over with a cake to surprise me. My mom and I cut the cake together, and I didn’t realise it was going to be my last birthday with her. Two months later, she passed away quite suddenly. She still comes to me in my dreams, talk to me, and walks with me. This is now the only way I can feel her existence.

Tahsina Mahmud

Ammu’s biggest dream was for me to receive the Daily Star Award for six or more subjects in my O-Level board exams. Last year, we received the news that I

was going to receive the award. It was supposed to be in April, but it got postponed to July. After fighting for a few days in the hospital after suddenly

falling sick, Ammu passed away on July 6, the same day that the Daily Star Award had been rescheduled to.

Khadiza Yasmin

after being hit in a fight with a band of restless boys. I went home hurt, and Ma picked me and sat me in her lap. I remember it was warm and flabby. That comfort is precious. I cherish that moment even after I growing up, and continue to do so even now. At the age of 54, I often hug my children, and try to cuddle them while they are sleeping. That is peace of mind indeed.

Nizar Karim

I am a teacher by profession, and my own biggest teacher was my Ma. In my childhood, I hardly got a chance to sit on her lap, because it was always occupied by younger students, or because she was preoccupied with household chores and her job. But my intense desire to be cuddled by her was fulfilled one time. I had gotten a bloody nose

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A few months before Ammu passed away, at the end of 2003 or beginning of 2004, my mock exams for my IGCSE’s had just ended. All the teachers and the principal complained regarding my results (which were horrible to say the least) and proposed that I shouldn’t sit for the board exam. Ammu just listened, smiled and told them: “Nizar is

my son and I know he will make me and his father proud. He will sit for the exams, don’t worry.” That really gave me a boost! Sadly she wasn’t alive during my exams, but I am sure my muchimproved IGCSE grades made her happy, somewhere up there.


LISTOLOGY

7

Meet the Polymaths Five great minds who excelled in diverse fields James Saville

Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941)

Leonardo Da Vinci (1452-1519)

The ultimate polymath, Leonardo Da Vinci is the original renaissance man. His 15th century anatomical sketches of the human body are as precise as any modern ones, and significantly more beautiful. They range from the iconic Vitruvian Man to close-up drawings of individual bodily organs. A skilled engineer, his notebooks were packed with detailed designs, both proven and hypothetical, for musical instruments, hydraulic pumps, crossbows, bridges, steam powered canons, reversible crank mechanisms, finned mortar shells, and even a winged aircraft. Of course, it is painting that he is most well known for. Two of the most famous paintings in the world, The Last Supper and the Mona Lisa, are his.

Rabindranath Tagore was, as we all know, was a legendary Bangali writer. As a key figure of the Bengal Renaissance, he was an acclaimed poet, novelist, non-fiction writer, dramatist and painter. Tagore first wrote poetry as an eight-year-old. At age sixteen, he released his first substantial poems, which were seized upon by literary authorities as long-lost classics. He went on to write 84 short stories and 12 novels and At 20 he wrote his first opera. His work even included paintings, sketches and and some 2,000 songs. He founded Visva-Bharati University, and also won the Nobel prize for literature in 1913. He found time to be a radical politician, denouncing the Raj and advocating independence from Britain. He officially resigned his knighthood in response to the massacre by

(1935- )

the British at Jallianwala Bagh, saying in a letter to the viceroy: “The time has come when badges of honour make our shame glaring in the incongruous context of humiliation, and I for my part, wish to stand, shorn, of all special distinctions, by the side of those of my countrymen who, for their so called insignificance, are liable to suffer degradation not fit for human beings.”

Bertrand Russell

The only living person on this list, US marine F Story Musgrave won the National Defense Service Medal and received an Outstanding Unit Citation. He went on to become a NASA astronaut – going into space six times. Incredibly, he is also a doctor of medicine, professor of physiology, successful businessman, professor of design, literary critic, surgeon, architect, computer scientist, chemist, sculptor and “experimental parachutist.” He has seven degrees from elite US universities, including his doctorate and an MBA, and has written over 25 scientific papers in the areas of aerospace medicine and physiology, temperature regulation, and clinical surgery. Musgrave has been credited with designing “basically everything that keeps the astronauts alive.”

Omar Khayyam

(1872-1970)

One of the the most important philosophers of the 20th century, Russell was one of the progenitors of modern analytic philosophy, using mathematics and formal logic to investigate philosophical claims in a scientific way. In his biography Russell reflects: “Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong, have governed my life: the longing for love, the search for knowledge, and unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind.” If his towering achievements in philosophy weren’t enough, Russell was also a political activist and campaigner for many causes including women’s suffrage, pacifism, racial equality, anti-imperialism,

F Story Musgrave

(1048-1131)

nuclear disarmament and gay rights. It was his writings on these subjects, not his academic philosophical works, for which he was awarded the Nobel prize for in 1950. Fellow philosopher AJ Ayer said of Russell: “The popular conception of a philosopher as one who combines universal learning with the direction of human conduct was more nearly satisfied by Bertrand Russell than by any other philosopher of our time.”

A poet, mathematician, geographer and astronomer, Omar Khayyam was one of the central figures in the “Islamic Golden Age.” He authored more than 1000 poems, some of which were famously translated into english by Edward Fitzgerald in the 19th century. Apart from his art, he was a leading figure in medieval mathematics, dealing extensively with fundamental problems of geometry such as the parallel postulate, and in doing so prefigured modern non-Euclidean geometry. He was also an accomplished astronomer, who used his observations of the heavenly bodies to help modernise the Persian caldender; his calender is still used in Iran today.

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8 GALLERY

Tagore

People often ask me about the meaning of my pictures. I remain silent, as my pictures are. It is for them to express and not to explain. They have nothing ulterior behind their own appearances, and if that appearance carries its ultimate worth then they remain, otherwise they are rejected and forgotten, even though they may have some scientific truth or ethical justification. —

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A poet in ink and PAINT

This Tagore painting resides in Dhaka. Collectors Nadia and Rajeeb Samdani said: “This is a very special piece to us. We feel lucky to have it in our home.” They acquired it at an auction of the Dartington Hall Trust’s collection by Sotheby's in London in 2010. The auction caused a stir with the Indian government, who consider Tagore's works national treasures. Rabindranath Tagore had a close personal association with the founders of Dartington Hall, a school in Devon, UK. During his stay there, he gifted a total of 14 pieces to the foundation.


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10 Gallery

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11

...Endless creativity The story behind Tagore’s painting life Faisal Mahmud

R

abindranath Tagore started very late as a painter, at the age of 63. His paintings are big attractions these days. At a June 2010 auction of Tagore’s paintings in London, his 12 paintings fetched £1.6m. The great man once said: “My writings are for the East and my paintings for the West.” It’s true that the various artful corrections and doodles on his manuscripts were first noticed with admiration by Victoria Ocampo when he visited Buenos Aires in 1924. In May 1930, Ocampo, charmed by the poet’s painting ability, arranged the first exhibition of Tagore’s paintings in Paris. Later exhibitions would move to other cities across Europe and America. The West recognised the strength and style of Tagore’s painting, lavishing him with praise. Kainer Smith of the Birmingham Mail wrote: “Some of these paintings are of astounding power. Their very deep tones and wonderfully harmonious sequence produce exactly the same effect of rhythm as that which is to be observed in purely linear work, and we might sum

Tagore used a wooden seal with this motif, his initials in Bangla, to embellish his manuscripts

up the whole of this exhibition as being a marvellous example of the sense of balance and of harmony, even in the most fortuitous of its forms.” Ananda K Coomarswamy, of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, wrote: “An exhibition of drawings by Rabindranath Tagore is of particular interest because it puts before us, almost for the first time, genuine examples of modern primitive art. One may well wonder how those artists and critics who have so long striven for and praised the more calculated primitivisms, archaisms, and pseudo– barbarisms of European origin, will respond. Will they admire the real thing?” The warm reception contrasted to the lukewarm response from his fellow countryman. He was touchy on this point, and decided not to exhibit his paintings in India initially. After his paintings won accolades in foreign lands, local critics started taking interest in his paintings, and an exhibition was held in Calcutta in 1932. Rabindranath himself however was modest about his expressions on his own paintings. Some critics even said that he was modest because he was not entirely sure of the quality of his works. In a letter he told the eminent artist Jamini Roy: “I have no formal training in any school of art. Maybe my paintings are not complete in the sense they should have been.” Tagore needn’t have worried, as Roy would later write: “I adore Tagore’s paintings for their inner strength, their inherent rhythm and for the reflection of an artistic beauty.” Tagore’s self-doubt was only a part of his endless creativity. Noted Indian art critic professor Raman Shibkumar said the drawings of Rabindranath Tagore proved that the poet, though a master in the use of words, felt that certain things can be better expressed – or perhaps only expressed – in the language of line, tone and colour. Shibkumar said the West had appreciated Tagore’s painting from the very beginning because of its international outlook: “The

Russians and Germans found similarity in his style with their own masters’ paintings.” Monirul Islam notes that Tagore used opaque colours for rugged texture and sometimes as very sharp highlights. He used a variety of materials such as crayons, experimental corrosive inks, natural vegetable colours, and varnishes of different kinds. These were playfully applied on any quality of paper at hand, regardless of the impermanence of the materials. “But all of his work somhow reflects the fact that ‘painting’ was his old age obsession.”

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“I adore Tagore’s paintings for their inner strength, their inherent rhythm and for the reflection of an artistic beauty.”

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12 FEATURE

A room of her own

Meet the colourful ladies of Probin Nibash, a local retirement home Tausif Sanzum

H

idden behind the passport office, and adjacent to a hospital, is the white building of the Probin Nibash retirement home. In the courtyard, the elderly residents of the retirement home sit or stroll around. I have come to hear their stories.

philosoper on the mountaintop An attendant takes me to meet a resident. Poking my head into her room, I ask if I can come in. The lady says yes, but tells me to remove my shoes. She asks who I am. Her voice is so friendly and warm, I am certain this will be a lively conversation.

She gives a mischievous laugh when she explains how she secretly planned to move in to the old home shelter and only informed her

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The woman is sitting on her bed, her grey hair undone, wearing a simple cotton brown sari. She might have been in her late 70s, but her eyes glimmered with the excitement of a young girl. Rashida Zaman is the widow of Dr Monirul Zaman, former chairperson of department of Bangali at Dhaka University. She was the founder and Principal of University Laboratory School and College. Her room is filled

with books. Within minutes, I am awestruck by the enthusiasm with which this woman talks to me about life, literature and philosophy. When I ask her to share her views about retirement homes, her answer is unexpected. She reads out one of her poems, inspired by a Chinese fable where elderly people are sent to a mountaintop to be treated by the waters of a stream that runs through there. She feels that we

consider elderly people like gods, and we make sure that we provide them with everything they want. She says, just as we sin and expect God to remain silent, so too we expect our elderly relatives to be silent. “But we are not Gods. We are human beings. We cannot stop ourselves from speaking our minds about what we see happening around us. That is when the conflicts start.� She believes the old


13 home shelter is the Chinese mountaintop. Here she does not need to be a God. she can be herself, as everyone around her is just like her. She gives a mischievous laugh when she explains how she had secretly planned to move into the retirement home, and only informed her son afterwards, telling him that no member of her family should contact her for the next six months. She says that this period was important for both sides to cope emotionally with the situation. Emotions, she says, are our biggest weakness. She compares goodness to currency. She says society keeps praising a good person, who in turn strives to earn further accolades by molding himself into what society considers good. “They are just like a gold bar which is heated until all the impurities melt away, and all that is left is pure gold. But too often,

this gold becomes like a coin, locked in banks – unused. It is the clever person who does not strive to be all good, but spends their inner-gold, and is happy.” After six months, when her son came to visit her, he was dead against her staying in the retirement home. He felt other people would see it in a negative light. She says it took her twoand-half years to explain to her son that it is not about the impression it gives, but where she will find happiness and inner peace. She shows me the small balcony garden she has made: A celebration of life. First she planted one sapling, and another tiny plant grew up beside it. Over time the garden created itself. As she says, life is full of surprises. She takes out a paper cutting of an obituary for Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who passed away recently. She says she had never known he existed, but

These four walls are my room. I can write here until 2am and no one can say anything

reading about his life had been inspiring for her, as it showed how a normal person can rise to greatness. She complains that she has been unable to find his work. I tell her that I am huge fan of the writer, and promise to lends her a few of his novels. As I take her leave, she holds my hand and kisses me goodbye.

a fellow journalist In the common room, I’m introduced to another woman clad in a navy blue sari. Despite her demure look and soft voice, she has a dignified presence. Masuma Siddique used to be a journalist with The Observer, and chaired Tritorongo, an organisation in Chittagong, before retiring. She also lived in the US for 17 years. “Even two years ago, I never thought I would have to live in a retirement home. It turns out, her son and daughter-in-law left the country and they couldn’t leave her in a flat on her own, so she ended up here. She is reluctant to divulge much information about her family. She says she found this place after a lot of looking around, and deems it suitable for her to spend the rest of her life in. Her son calls her every now and then. She is undergoing dialysis and has placed ads in various newspapers to ask for financial help. She says she does not want to burden her son with the expense of her treatment.

A writer’s life Another woman welcomes me into her room. Of all my interviewees, she seemed to be the youngest. She introduces herself as Hajera Akhter Lily, and asks me to call her Lily Aunty. Since the mid-1960s, she tells me, she had wanted to pursue writing. “But in Bangladesh, if a girl wants to do something creative, society often does not see that in a positive light.” Her husband and daughter were not supportive. As she became busy with family life, her dreams of being a writer took a back seat. But she always felt that

something was missing in her life, which had a deep impact on her. When her husband retired, he wanted them to go back to Brahmanbaria. But as she had warned, he was not be able to readjust, as none of his old friends lived there anymore. They moved in with their daughter and her husband in Dhaka. She got a tiny table which could be folded and kept under her bed. She wanted to use this as a writing table and tuck it away afterwards so it would not impede the interior decor of her daughter’s home. Soon her writing began to be published, and she was getting more and more offers. However, the tension at home was increasing. She said her daughter started to resent her presence and was constantly critical of her. She could not concentrate on her work and failed to meet publishers’ deadlines. Her husband and daughter would not allow her to have meetings with publishers and fellow writers at their home. She always had to arrange to meet elsewhere. “I was doing everything possible so that my world didn’t intrude on theirs. But my world was being ripped apart while trying to save theirs.” She finally took the bold step of moving out. The fact that she was earning money made it easier for her to make the decision. But there was a problem. “Even at my age, landlords in Bangladesh do not rent houses to single women, and there is also the question of security.” So she came to Probin Nibash, which has now become her home. She does not plan to ever go back to her daughter’s home. “These four walls are my room. I can write here until 2am and no one can say anything.” Her eyes well up with tears when she talks about her elder grandson. She misses him and wants him to grow up to be a good human being, and succeed in whichever field he choses. She walks me down the stairs. I leave Probin Nibash with a smile on my face. The place has shown me a celebration of life, thanks to the inspiring residents who have chosen to live there.

.

Cartoon : Rio Shuvo

WE E K E N D TR I BU N E F R I DAY, M AY 9, 2 0 1 4


14 Legalese Jennifer Ashraf Kashmi is a barrister and solicitor of England and Wales. She is currently Senior Partner at Legacy Legal Corporate.

Let there be light Q A

Cartoon : Rio Shuvo

WEEKEN D TR I BU N E F R I DAY, M AY 9, 201 4

Someone is illegally building an eight storey apartment block next to my house. It will completely overshadow my house and block the view, casting us into permanent shade. He has no planning permission but he does have excellent political

connections. I’m told he is a thug of the ruling party. We have appealed to all the appropriate authorities, but he has not been stopped. Is there anything I can do in the face of this brazen corruption?

Dear Reader I remember discussing something similar to this issue a few weeks ago. The right to light, water and air are basic human rights, and everyone is entitled to these rights indiscriminately. This right, in legal terms, can be defined as an “easement.” Put simply, an easement is the ‘right’ to any of these, as long as the individual or group of individuals have enjoyed this specified right for a certain period of time. Your building and the adjacent piece of land have probably coexisted in the present state for a relatively long time, thereby firmly establishing your basic right to sunlight. The definition of easement in law is also broad enough to include amenities as light. In my opinion, your right of easement to sunlight here would be classified as a continuous easement. A continuous easement is one whose enjoyment is, or may be, continual without the act of man. The law states that the right of easement regarding enjoyment of light will be absolute and indefeasible if it is enjoyed continuously for a period of 20 years in the case of enjoying private property, or 60 years in the case of public property, subject to a few conditions. However, this legal right will be extinguished if there is any interruption for two years. Therefore, the next step for you and your neighbours, in order to safeguard your right, is to file a suit within the next two years, in order to ensure that your right to sunlight is adequately safeguarded. Alternatively, looking at your case from a different perspective, it would also appear that the construction of the eight storey building could actually, in this instance, be taken to constitute

a “nuisance.” A nuisance can be either public or private. Public nuisance is defined in the Penal Code as any act or illegal omission which causes common injury, danger or annoyance to the public or to the people in general who dwell or occupy property in the vicinity, or which must necessarily cause injury, obstruction, danger or annoyance to persons who may have occasion to use any public right. Here, the public right would be the right to light. Additionally, you also mentioned that this construction is being done without the proper planning permissions and therefore it is, in all likelihood, an illegal construction. In the case of a public nuisance, the attorney general (or two or more persons having obtained the consent in writing of the attorney general) may institute a suit, though no special damage has been caused, for a declaration and injunction or for such other relief as may be appropriate to the circumstances of the case. In this case, since the construction of the eight storey building is set to indefinitely block your right to enjoyment of light and cast you into “permanent shade,” it appears to me that your best option is to apply for n injunction as quickly as a possible before things progress too far ahead. My best advice is to not delay, and pursue preventive relief (ie an injunction) instead of punishments. I’m sorry to hear the difficulties that you are currently facing regarding the blatant corruption, but unfortunately, this is what we have to deal with on a regular basis. For your sake, I do hope this situation gets resolved soon in the proper legal manner!

Got a problem? Write to Jennifer at weekend@ dhakatribune.com


First person

15

Feeling like

a fake Bangladeshi

A British-Bangladeshi mom in Texas tries to teach her daughters about a heritage that she feels alienated from herself Sadia Rahman Getting in costume

I

Photos: Courtesy

am of the Bangladeshi diaspora. My parents’ Bangladeshi identity is firmly rooted. For my American children, Bangladesh is a mere footnote, a point of interest. I am caught in a misty world between these generations, not sure how to bridge them or where I fit myself. I live in the US, in suburban Texas. At my twin daughters’ elementary school, they held an event to celebrate the diversity of the student body. Parents could volunteer to put together a display of artifacts representing their culture. I offered to represent Bangladesh.

We thought it would be fun for them to wear Bangladeshi clothes to the event, but they had outgrown all such outfits we owned. We went shopping for deshi clothes for my girls at the home of a lady who imported clothes from India. The house was full of women and children sifting through bright, bejeweled fabrics, familiar to me, exotic to my girls. I spoke to the lady and gentleman of the house in Bangla. Everyone else was speaking Hindi/Urdu, which I kind of understand, but don’t speak. I was wearing the clothes I’d worn to work: jeans and a solid coloured top. All the other women were in South Asian wear. And I had no idea what length of kamiz or style of shalwar was fashionable. I felt like a fish out of water. When the diversity event came around at the girls’ school, they wore their new shalwar kamiz and lehenga, and I wore one of my old shalwar kamizes, 12 years out of fashion. I put together a collection of trivia on Bangladesh on sticky notes, put up a looping slideshow of images from home on my laptop, and laid out my entire collection of saris and knick knacks on a cafeteria table. I made shondesh from cottage cheese, and I offered to show kids who came by what their names looked like written in Bangla. The whole time, I felt like a fake.

Mixed feelings

I’d felt similarly out of place when I went to the local Bangali community’s Noboborsho celebration. The only person I had a real conversation with was the sister of a childhood classmate.

Like me, she considers herself part-British, and had married a white man. As she put it: “Our kids don’t even look Bangali.” Except when chatting with her, I felt like I was being judged, something I hadn’t felt since being an awkward teenager. By the top-to-bottom looks some of the other attendees gave me, I was convinced that I was being sized up. I was wearing a sweater dress, not a sari or shalwar kamiz. I didn’t trust myself to drape a sari correctly, and I knew all the kamizes I owned would be terribly out of date. I smiled at strangers, as I would anywhere else in Austin. Unlike elsewhere in Austin, the smiles weren’t returned and no niceties were exchanged, except with young, presumably BangaliTexan, children like my own. I may look the part and speak the language, but I’m not Bangladeshi in any meaningful way. Perhaps I never have been.

degree of identification with the culture. No. I spent those 10 years feeling like a foreigner. This was partly thanks to my childhood in Britain. The rest of my sense of alienation came from living with one foot in the expat community. Despite family nearby, my life revolved around the expatriate school I attended along with children from around the world. I felt little kinship to the few extremely well-off Bangladeshis who also attended the American school. My daughters know that Bangladesh is part of their heritage, and that I used to live there, but they’ve never been. They understand only very basic Bangla. They don’t have a single Bangladeshi or even Bangali friend. On the rare occasion that

Growing up Deshi

My parents were young adults at Bangladesh’s birth, and left soon afterward for scholarship-funded education in the UK. I was born a few years into their UK residency. Our whole family moved to Bangladesh when I was nearly 8. I spent the next decade in Dhaka, interrupted by one intensely eye-opening year in in deep rural Bangladesh, at the orphanage my mother managed in Kurigram. I left for the US for university when I was 18, never thinking I’d stay. I’ve been in America for 16 years now. You’d think spending 10 years in Bangladesh during key formative years of my childhood would bestow me with a deep

I cook Bangali food, they won’t eat it – unless it’s chatpati. I frequently sing the four or five Bangla songs I remember, but my Western classical repertoire runs into the hundreds of songs. Have I failed my daughters? Should I teach them more about this culture that feels so foreign to me? Or if I try, will I just be faking it?

.

WE E K E N D TR I BU N E F R I DAY, M AY 9, 2 0 1 4


16 Tough Love | With DIna Sobhan Dina Sobhan is a freelance writer, and cautions readers not to take her ‘advice’ here too seriously!

The splurger and the miser

Q A

I’m going to get married within the next couple of months. While I’m a fan of simplicity, my fiancée on the other hand is obsessed with planning a fancy, extravagant wedding. I didn’t pay much attention to what she was doing initially, but with each passing day, it seems like she’s trying to compete with William and Kate’s royal wedding. How can I tell her not to waste too much of our savings on just one single day?

Well, Mr. Simplicity, to put it simply: you can’t. This is THE day she’s been waiting for since she understood the concept of marriage. She probably used to dress her teddy bears in saris and rub them all over with holud before declaring undying love to them. So if she insists on getting every detail right, and breathes fire on mere mortals such as you who stand in her way, it’s because she is a Bridezilla. She has earned the right to be crazy and obsessive because this day has to be PERFECT. Of course she’s behaving like a lunatic and spending ridiculous amounts of money on everything. What else will she have to look back on when the rest of her sad life unfolds before her, replete with endless days of dishwashing and childrearing, not to mention the obligatory tea parties and dull dawats with the in-laws? When she is feeling homicidal and/or suicidal and wondering why she ever agreed to marry you, or was she in fact drugged or coerced, she will look back on that one shining day and remember that it was real love, and that she chose you. It is in your interest to give her the nicest wedding that you can, because it will be your one saving grace later. If you fight her on this one, however, there may not be any wedding at all. Take your pick.

WEEKEN D TR I BU N E F R I DAY, M AY 9, 201 4

Got a problem? Write to Dina at weekend@ dhakatribune. com

Cartoon: Syed Rashad Imam Tanmoy

Q A

My husband is a number one konjus at home, but in front of others he loves to act like a big shot. He impulsively picks up the bill at group dinners, or buys expensive gifts for his friends. He spends money on nice clothes and a fancy mobile, but he

doesn’t allow us – his own family - to spend a cent beyond what we need for basic necessities. We fight about it all the time, but it’s like he can’t help himself. I think he has some kind of mental problem. Is there such a thing, and can it be fixed?

It’s sweet that you want to attribute your husband’s miserly ways to a mental disorder, but I can assure you that his is more a problem of character. As in he has none. And what’s even more curious than his cheapness is your ability to tolerate it. There is no justifiable reason for him to spend on himself and his friends and not on his family. As his wife, you and your family are entitled to be provided for. If once in awhile you need to be provided with a massage and manicure, so be it. If he continues to give you grief about

it, just embarrass him in front of the very people he wines and dines and acts the benevolent friend to. Start wearing your older, rattier clothes when you’re out, and dress your children similarly. Be sure to complain loudly on how costly things are these days and how you can barely afford to feed yourselves, much less splurge on extravagant items such as clothes. The more hard-up you look, the deeper will be your husband’s shame, and the awkwardness of his friends. That should give you access to his platinum card in no time!


HEALTH

17

THE END OF ANTIBIOTICS? The troubling rise of drug-resistant bug Shah Nahian

I

magine suffering from a simple infection, and your doctors are telling you that there’s nothing they can do about it. Sounds preposterous. However this might be all too real in the near future, according to a new report by the World Health Organisation. The report, comprised of data from 114 countries, described a post-antibiotic era where people can potentially die from common infections and minor injuries that have been treatable for decades. Antibiotic resistance is occurring in every region of the world. This includes “last resort” drugs, used for treating people with life threatening infections such as pneumonia, diarrhea, bloodstream infections, and infections in newborns and intensive-care unit patients.

Know your Antibiotics

Antibiotics have been around since the 1940s. These are powerful drugs used to fight bacterial infections. Bacteria are everywhere and most do not cause any harm. In some cases, they are actually beneficial. Lactobacillus, for example, lives in the intestine and helps digest food. However, some bacteria do cause harm and illness by invading the human body, multiplying and interfering with normal bodily processes. Antibiotics are effective against bacteria because they work to kill these living organisms. Although there are a number of different types of antibiotics, they all work in one of two ways: • A bactericidal antibiotic kills the bacteria. Penicillin is a bactericidal. A bactericidal usually either interferes with the formation of the bacterium’s cell wall or its cell

contents. • A bacteriostatic stops bacteria from reproducing and multiplying. Antibiotics start having an effect on an infection within a few hours. Completing the whole course of the medication stops the infection from coming back. However, failing to complete the course, the surviving bacteria can mutate in a way that gives it resistance to the antibiotic. Bacteria with these mutations, if they survive and reproduce, will pass on this trait to their offspring, which leads to the evolution of a fully resistant colony. This is why it is essential that you complete a course of antibiotics, even if you are feeling better. Using antibiotics in the absence of harmful bacteria ends up killing the beneficial ones, which can potentially weaken the immune system and cause irreversible damage. Frequent and inappropriate use of antibiotics can cause bacteria or other microbes to resist the effects of antibiotic treatments.

“Effective antibiotics had been one of the ‘pillars’ to help people live longer, healthier lives and benefit from modern medicine. Unless we take significant actions to improve efforts to prevent infections and also change how we produce, prescribe and use antibiotics; the world will lose more and more of these global public health goods and the implications will be devastating.” The report calls for better hygiene, access to clean water, infection control in healthcare facilities and vaccination to reduce the need for antibiotics.

The leading causes of this new global phenomenon are doctors overprescribing the medication and patients failing to complete their courses

.

The happening

The leading causes of this new global phenomenon are doctors over-prescribing the medication and patients failing to complete their antibiotic courses. The major global threat is increasing at a much faster rate than originally expected. While, more new antibiotics need to be developed, The World Health Organisation is asking governments and individuals to take necessary steps to slow the process down. Dr Keiji Fukuda, assistant director general of the World Health Organisation, said:

WE E K E N D TR I BU N E F R I DAY, M AY 9, 2 0 1 4


18 Stay in

To Ma, with love

Last week’s sudoku solutions

Shah Nahian

Sudoku Use the numbers 1-9 to complete each of the 3x3 square grids such that each horizontal and vertical line also contains all of the digits from 1-9

S

ome of the best presents are those with a deeper meaning than a flashy price tag. Treating her with flowers, jewellery, perfume or an evening out are all good ideas. But this thoughtful project from Studio DIY is sure to pull on her heartstrings: a fresh flower envelope garland. It will not only complement your other gift ideas, but is enough to stand out as a great present on its own. Get a stack of envelopes. Fill each one with sweet notes, funny stories of you and your mom, and small objects that

WEEKEN D TR I BU N E F R I DAY, M AY 9, 201 4

might mean something to her. Make sure to include a lot of old and baby pictures. You can enlist others in the family to contribute to filling the envelopes with their own tokens and memorabilia. Seal the envelopes, and glue a fresh flower on top. Hang the garland somewhere your mom is bound to discover it. You can let her open them all at once, or space it out by letting her open a single envelope every hour or two. Keep her engaged throughout the day with this beautiful trip down memory lane, and make this Mother’s Day the best one yet.


Go out

19

­Circus Circus When 7pm-10pm Where Main Theatre Hall, Bangladesh Shilpokola Academy

Weekly Planner The theatre group Prachyanat is staging its renowned Bangla play ‘Circus Circus’ directed by Azad Abul Kalam today. The play is all about the tale of a circus troupe, led by Laksman Das, who are struggling for their existence amid communal violence and political chaos. The Great Bengal Circus group was ravaged back in 1971 and had to face similar problems, including threats to its existence

– even after liberation. We see the challenges faced by the the the rural circus troupe: poverty, a shortage of skilled performers, and hatred from a fundamentalist group. Tickets are available at three prices Tk50, 100, and 200. This Friday could be a perfect one for you to go out and explore the best theatre experience in Dhaka.

National Rabindra Sangeet Festival

May 09

May 12

Contest | Building Family LEGO When: 2pm Where: Mustafa Mart, Bashundhara City, 6th floor, Panthapath What: Mustafa Mart is providing an opportunity for people of all ages to build from their imagination. Winners will be rewarded.

Photography Exhibition | Celebrating Life! When: 2.30pm-7.30pm Where: Drik Gallery, House 58, Road 15A, Dhanmondi What: Scoph-BMSS is presenting the exhibition and competition. Organised by the Bangladesh Medical Students Society, the contest is not restricted to medical students, anyone is welcome to take part.

May 10 Event | Made in Bangladesh Showcase When: 9pm-4pm Where: Australian High Commission, Dhaka What: The local artisans are bringing handmade, green and fair trade products. All made in Bangladesh.

May 10

When: May 10 at 9am-9pm Where: Shawkat Osman

Auditorium Public Library, Shahbag, Dhaka Bangladesh Rabindra Sangeet Shilpi Sangstha (BRSSS) has organised a fiveday National Rabindra Sangeet festival, “Dibey Ar Nibey, Milabe Milibe, Jabey Na Phirey,” to observe the 153rd birthday of Rabindranath Tagore. There will be performances of Tagore’s poetry and music,

along with some writing workshops. BRSSS will also use the occasion to honour Aninusuzzaman, Emeritus Professor of Bengali at the University of Dhaka. Lectures are also part of the festival. Prof Biswjit Ghosh will present a lecture on Baul philosophy in Tagore’s songs, and Professor Soumitra Shekhar will deliver a lecture entitled “Jugomanob Rabindranath.”

Movie | Swarup Shondhan When: 10am-5pm Where: Green University of Bangladesh Auditorium What: Directed by Muhammad Sajjad Hossain and Arafatul Kabir Rijvi, the movie portrays the history of cinema in Bangladesh, the evolution of language and the change of culture.

MAY

2014

May 15-17 Fair | Laptop Fair 2014 When: 10am-8pm Where: Bangabandhu International Conference Center (BICC), Bir Uttom Khaled Mosharraf Ave, Dhaka 1207 What: Expo Maker has arranged the laptop fair to showcase numerous kinds of laptops with a variety of configurations and prices.

Send us your events to weekend@ dhakatribune.com

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WE E K E N D TR I BU N E F R I DAY, M AY 9, 2 0 1 4


20 Interview

The historian poet An interview with Yusuf Muhammed, poet, cultural activist and fearless transparency campaigner Saudia Afrin Nurul Islam told me to go for complete documentation. Their support and encouragement inspired me to finish the work. While working on the project, Ershad’s National Party was in a vulnerable state at that time. However, other political parties tried to induce me who took part in the anti-Ershad movement. This is not uncommon in our political scenario. Each party demanded that I write about only their role in the movement and censor the contributions of others. But I felt that it would be an injustice to the country.

Y

Photo: Quamrul Abedin

our book Mass Movement 1982-90 is considered one of the most important works on Ershad’s regime, published three years after the military dictatorship ended. Could you share your experience of bringing out the book. I felt there was a need to document people’s struggle during that period. With that aim, I started collecting documents related to the dramatic movement of 1990. Initially I planned to focus only on the eventful last three months of the year. However, Professor Dr Anisuzzaman and Dr Mostafa

WEEKEN D TR I BU N E F R I DAY, M AY 9, 201 4

How did you start writing? When I was in school, the government had a policy of distributing books among students. Besides textbooks, I got to read the poetry of Sufia Kamal, Jashimuddin and many others. I felt the urge to start writing myself, and my teacher encouraged us to write anything we wished to write for our school magazine. Eventually I started writing poems for different local publications. During my later years in school, I remained actively engaged with a club called “Shapla Shaluker Ashor,” run by the Radio Club (a local extension of Bangladesh Betar). I was also in charge of the club. It had branches in different districts and its primary goal was to develop interest for writing among people around the country. After collecting the write-ups, the club used to broadcast them over radio. This helped me strengthen my ties with other writers, and also introduced me to the nitty-gritty of poetry. How does it feel to have won national awards for poetry? Of course it feels good. Any kind of recognition makes you happy because it boosts your confidence and helps you achieve your desired goal. The Jatiya Parishad, under the Ministry of Cultural Affairs, called on young writers to submit write-ups. After selecting the best pieces, the Parishad issued awards at different levels. In 1981, I came first in my zone,

and then I won it again the year after at the national level. What are your observations regarding the current political situation? Although we fought against the Pakistani occupation forces for over nine months, the voyage began long before that. Our history is being scotched every now and then. If it was documented right after the liberation war, this would not have happened. Though some good work has been done, the moment the party changes,

We have to focus on our cultural identity ... because Diversified cultural identity can unite the nation as it did in 1971 everything returns to square one. Our politics is divided into two spheres, one is the fundamentalist Jamat-BNP who still denies Bangladesh, and the other one is the socalled progressive group. But the question is how progressive are they? I think to thwart the fundamentalist group; our progressives need to read a lot to know the history, economy, society and culture of the country. We need to fill young hands with books, instead of arms and ammunition. I am quite optimistic about today’s generation, particularly after seeing the many initiatives they have undertaken for the sake of the country. For example, the Gonojagoron Moncho. No one can stop them if they take a strong stance to address issues in the country. You are one of the founders of the Chittagong Udichi Shilpa Goshthi. How has your experience with Udichi so far been? After joining, I did not find any

branch of Udichi in Chittagong University as it is a stronghold of fundamentalist groups. I thought that if we could create a progressive ideology based around an organisation at the university, that would help students think in an alternative way. Finally, we launched the Chittagong Udichi Shilpa Goshthi in 2000, but the main obstacle we faced was that students did not want to join the organisation out of fear of being attacked by the fundamentalist groups. Moreover, they lacked the habit of reading. However, eventually they felt encouraged to join the organisation; Udichi in Chittagong would not have been a success without them. We have to focus on our cultural identity – I am talking about our geographic area that holds different cultures together in its womb – because diversified cultural identity can unite the nation as it did in 1971. Now that you have started your dream project, and the first private gallery in Chittagong, “Haatkhola,” what is your plan for it? In Bangladesh, thousands of children drop out from schools because of poverty. Our plan is to encourage them to continue their education. We want to present them with the indigenous culture in Haathkhola. We plan to make it a cultural centre for children from marginal groups who are interested in music, dance or art but cannot pursue it because of their poverty. We also regularly organise art and literature based programmes. Recently we organised the “Jotsna Utsav,” a monthly musical programme held under the moonlight. Give us two lines from one of your favourite pieces. Ja kichu pare jubokera pare onnera noi Joddho o preme jiboner joy jubokeri hoy. That which a young heart can do, others cannot In war and love, it is the young hearted who are victorious.

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