My friends, family, and acquaintances are under the impression that the world is coming to an end.
To paraphrase something George Carlin once said with regards to global warming: The earth will be fine. It’s we that won’t survive it.
One needs to merely look out the window to realise that both the people around me, and George Carlin, are right in their own regards. As attack after attack rains down upon us, as we find more and more people in our midst who sympathise, who choose to remain blind, who choose to turn the other way, who choose to give up, as generalisations start to rule our judgement, as our thoughts get policed much like our rights, as authorities refuse to accept the existence of a real threat and instead choose to create a completely fabricated narrative, as governments almost topple, one can’t help but feel that, indeed, the world as we know it, is coming to an end.
As of writing this column, the latest supposedly religious extremist attack had been carried out on three bauls in Chuadanga. They were asleep when a gang of about 12 men came with “indigenous weapons” to swoon in on the unsuspecting singers, and started hacking with them.
The latest news states that they remain in critical condition.
This followed Nice, as a deranged Tunisian drove and shot into the Bastille Day celebrations on the Promenade des Anglais, killing more than 80 people in the process.
Before that, there was Baghdad. Before that, Turkey. Before that, Sholakia. And before that, Holey Artisan.
And before that? Foretellings and premonitions, bullets zipping past ear sockets and into innocent hearts, screaming: The end is nigh.
The threat of terror, the potential for conversion, the inherent roots of violence have become as indigenous to the world as the weapons used to swing at three unsuspecting singers.
But who cares about the rest of the world?
Why is the government continuing to blame the opposition when the attack has every evidence to suggest that it was IS? Why are they concentrating only on private universities, when terrorists come in all shapes and sizes? Why is the BCL now hammering its nail into one of the few places that enjoys a relative form of freedom?
For most Bangladeshis, the world is right here. And within the world, there are divisions, classes, lines drawn out of money and wealth, heritage and dynasty.
The Holey incident burst a bubble; the Sholakia incident proved to us that the bubble never really gets eradicated. Who knows the names of the victims? Who will remember them?
Nationalists and patriots complain that I paint a grim picture. The fact that our peers, people in our midst, are choosing to take the path now-oft travelled is not indicative of the Bangladesh we know; that Bangladesh still exists.
The same sentiment is mirrored in the PM’s address to the nation: How the Gulshan attack has dented the country’s “esteemed position.”
What esteemed position? Last time I heard, I still had to linger in the heat in public to get an Indian visa. What esteemed position allows the world to see us as the excreta of the world? What country in an esteemed position allows little for the freedom of its citizens, and lets its inhabitants linger in shrouds of mystery and opacity?
Bangladesh was no heaven and no haven, even before the Holey incident. And there’s no chance of it improving any time soon. With the government, as always, choosing to focus on the wrong foes, merely to keep its stronghold on its perennial pseudo-democratic leadership over the country, the public awaits for truth regarding what really took place.
As each day brings new revelations about the incidents (Nibras and Abir were roommates?), the public is left wondering, left in the dark, trying to search for the needle in giant bureaucratic, intentionally ambiguous haystack that is the government’s investigation into the matter.
All we’ve been left with are questions: Where are Tahmid and Hasnat?
Why are they being held back? Why did they deny that they had them? Why are they admitting they have them now? Who are the other two attackers who were arrested?
Why did they give false names for the terrorists first? In what world is it okay for a government to so blatantly lie to our faces? Why is there continued impunity for their actions? Why have we accepted this method of interrogation and investigation?
Why is the government continuing to blame the opposition when the attack has every evidence to suggest that it was IS?
Why are they concentrating only on private universities, when terrorists come in all shapes and sizes? Why is the BCL now hammering its nail into one of the few places that enjoys a relative form of freedom?
How did the government allow this to happen, if, as Home Minster Asaduzzaman claims, they “knew everything”? Why are conspiracy theories regarding the incident more believable than every single thing the government’s representatives spit out of their mouth?
And the way things are progressing, it seems unlikely that we’ll be getting the answers we seek. The world will continue to burn while those who burn it refuse to acknowledge the fact, for denial serves to contribute to its destruction as much as the physical act of it.
Is this how the world will end, with nary a denouement? No neat little tying up of all loose points, no peace at the heart of this turmoil?
But maybe Carlin was right: The world has always had phases. People have come and gone, risen and fallen. Terror has always struck fear in our hearts, only the name of the game has changed.
Leaders need enemies to pit against us, and the disenfranchised reactionaries need to feel like their position in the world, too, must matter.
Go back, come again. Rinse, repeat, recycle. Hold the door open and let the past in, so that we can go into a future we’ve seen before.