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Fun, frenzy, and farce

  • Published at 07:59 am June 23rd, 2018
Let’s not let a good game turn into violence / REUTERS

Do we tend to overdo our celebrations?

In the slightest of pretexts, we Bengalis tend to become frenzied about so many things. 

Our sense of joy or entertainment most of the time doesn’t remain confined to mere joy or merrymaking.

When we became ICC champions back in 1997, we came out on the streets with buckets-full of paint and hurled those at everybody and anybody that we saw commuting in the cities across the country. 

What were we thinking, for God’s sake? Throwing paint at people on the streets without their permission is unacceptable.

I also remember watching an ODI match between India and Pakistan back in 1986 in Dhaka Stadium in Motijheel. Bangladesh wasn’t a cricketing nation in the international arena yet. We did play cricket and also had played with international teams, but we hadn’t qualified for internationals until 1997. 

In the middle of the game, I suddenly realized that the Bangladeshi supporters of the teams had engaged in fisticuffs; some even lit tires on fire at different places of the stadium. When the police were trying to quell the conflict, my friends and I left the stadium.

On a New Year’s Eve night in the Dhaka University area more than a decade ago, we went out to have some fun, and in minutes we were simply struck with an unnatural frenzy. Revellers undressed a lady, who also came out to celebrate the occasion, and harassed her in the middle of an intersection. This continued for some consecutive years, and since then, the government has banned all merry-making on New Year’s Eve.

And imagine what ultimately happened! The lady suffered social admonitions for coming out on the streets at night. Almost everybody blamed her for being careless. The entire episode displayed our lack of maturity when it comes to celebrating something in a nice way.

I came across some news about two weeks ago that a man in a village who was a supporter of the German football team had sold a piece of his land for making a 5km-long German flag in order to show his allegiance to the team. Simply hilarious. 

In another village, the supporters of the Argentine team painted an entire school that looked like the flag of that country. One side of hundreds of residential houses have also been painted in the looks of people’s favourite football teams.

Then comes the big blow. During this ongoing football World Cup, the supporters of Brazil last week wounded a couple -- who were supporters of Argentina -- at Daulatpur in Khulna. The couple were wounded with sharp knives. Both of them are in the hospital now.

In another corner of Bangladesh, in Noakhali’s Senbagh sub-district, five people were wounded in a conflict between supporters of Brazil and Switzerland. 

They locked themselves in violence while watching the Brazil-Switzerland match at a club house. All the wounded persons are in the hospital now.

We have a history of fighting in the sports arena. Remember the feuds between Abahani Krira Chakra and Mohammedan Sporting Club? 

I remember the match in which our celebrity footballer Mohammad Salahuddin (currently the president of Bangladesh Football Federation) playing his last game in 1984. 

He was an Abahani player. When Mohammedan scored a goal against Abahani in the second half, the supporters raised hell inside the stadium. They set tires on fire and threw bottles and shoes at the Mohammedan players in the field. 

Then the police started their action. They beat the hell out of the Abahani supporters. This was one of the sporting events in which we had a massive number of injured people.

Whenever we are out there to enjoy something, we overdo the merriment so much that the authorities become compelled to ban the whole event altogether. Such a pity. In the end, we end up as some farcical animals, a populace to laugh at. 

I still can’t fathom why we act like that. If Maradona or Messi or Neymar learn that some supporters of their teams are physically fighting for them, they would have a great laugh among themselves. They may not even know where Bangladesh is located!

Why do we become crazy when it comes to enjoying something? Why do we take the causes of other countries so personally? We’re nowhere near the World Cup arena! Why do we do what we do? 

Is it because we try to ventilate our political and social dissatisfactions in becoming violent in others issues? Or is it  cultural? Do we inherently carry a militant attitude in us? 

If these are the scenarios, what are we doing to change them? Why would our fun turn into frenzy every time, making our lot look like farcical across the world? 

Ekram Kabir is a story-teller and a columnist.

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