The day after a college teacher in Mymensingh was beaten to death in broad daylight on a college campus, I was getting impatient, as time’s chariot was flying very fast, with me stuck in a limbo on Green Road on my way to the office.
My blood pressure was getting high, thinking that I would be late. Suddenly, my eyes fell on a stray dog beside the road, who was in his/her slumber enjoying the midday sunlight of winter -- no tension, no stress, no hurry for any destination. Seeing the sweet slumber of the dog I became oblivious of my surroundings, and recalled the fortunate dog of Syed Mujtaba Ali’s short story “Padatika.” It was a pet dog of a Laat Shaheb (a British high official), who came to visit a school for inspection along with the dog.
The Englishman spent Tk75 per month for the dog. One day, a teacher (pandit moshai) of the school asked his students during a class to calculate if Tk75 was spent for three legs of the dog, how much money was spent for one leg of the dog.
A student (the narrator of the story) answered that it was Tk25. Then the teacher, who was a Brahmin, threw a question to the students: His family, which was comprised of eight persons, was equal to how many of the dog’s legs? He got a salary of Tk25 per month for his entire family.
The satire present in the story still stirs my mind.
The message society has been getting is: ‘Don’t you dare protest to any injustice. Do not raise your voice for what you think is right’
This story was written in the context of British imperialist rule, and that is why we can accept it as normal that the rulers did not have any respect or sense of justice for native people.
But now, when we are independent, why has the condition of teachers not changed? Why has it deteriorated? Why are teachers still subject to humiliation? Why are they beaten on the streets in broad daylight?
The brutal assault of the college teacher in broad daylight, and not allowing any ambulance to enter the campus, which led him to his death, give us the message that law enforcers of our country do not care about enforcing the law.
They humiliate, beat, abduct, and kill with impunity. There are lots of examples where law enforcers have raped (ie Yasmin of Dinajpur) and killed, as we see in the seven murders in Narayanganj. But the latest killing of a respected college teacher has now shown just how far things have gone.
If you are not the son or daughter of an influential person, you may face any kind of harassment by law enforcement agencies or politically influential people.
Very often, we see news in the media where members of law enforcement agencies are involved in different kinds of crimes. But I have hardly seen any news of responsible members of law enforcement facing exemplary punishment, which would give other law enforcement personnel the message that they are not above the law.
The message society has been getting is: “Don’t you dare protest to any injustice. Do not raise your voice for what you think is right. If you dare to do so, you will be doomed. No one is there to save you.”
Nowadays, I feel afraid when my husband goes outside of our home for cigarettes late at night. I feel afraid when my husband and I travel at night. I feel afraid when I am alone on the streets at night. The list goes on. Our lives have become full of fear and stress.
People like me, who have still not been able to catch up with the trend of the age to be happy no matter what, are in real danger.
Living the life of a human being is becoming very difficult day by day. That is why I felt that day, seeing the oblivious dog on the street, that it would have been better if I were born as a dog. No such fear would haunt me.
Monswita Bulbuli is a Sub-Editor at the Dhaka Tribune.