HIM, HER, WE, THEM and I – a diary

I had an opportunity to participate in a South Asian conference in Sri Lanka where I presented a paper on the regional media. On my part, the conference was quite a success, as I could put forward a Bangladeshi point of view to a gang of hostile Indian and Pakistani participants whom we affectionately call ‘neighbours’. My wife happened to be another participant from Bangladesh.
That was the year 2000.

We learnt a lot of things about the future of the region and what we expect the region to become.

At that time, I was working with The Daily Star as a feature writer. I, then, was bringing out two weekly pages on South Asia and Asia. The objective was to orient Bangladeshi readers with regional strategic issues. My editor was very pleased with me for making the page popular among the elite readers of Bangladesh. Back from the conference, my wife wrote an article on what happened in Sri Lankan sea resort of Bentota. She wrote it quite well as she said she liked the conference very much. I carried the article in my weekly South Asian page in The Daily Star.

The next day, the managing editor summoned me and questioned whether my wife really wrote that article. He thought I wrote the article and printed it under my wife’s name.

I just said: “She wrote the article, bhai!”

Three years later, I was doing the same thing for The Financial Express, said to be the lone financial daily in Bangladesh. I was asked by the editor to become a special correspondent there. But at the same time he also asked me to help in the editorial page. And along with everything, I was also doing weekly pages on South Asia, Asia, ICT and young entrepreneurs. Bringing out young entrepreneurs page on weekly basis was not easy. I was asking everyone – who little bit of English language -that I knew to contribute in my pages. And my wife wasn’t also an exception.

She wrote several articles and interviewed a few young businessmen and women. The pay was good: one thousand bucks for one piece.

One day my editor [the best in Dhaka] told me that many of my colleagues told him negative things about my wife’s articles. He said that they said I was writing the articles and running them with her name so that we can earn a few extra bucks.

I was flabbergasted. I had to ask my editor to call my wife and put her to test. The editor didn’t say a word. Those who complained were, I heard, shut up by the editor himself. …But the scar in my mind remained. My fellow neighbour [I heard he is the chief news editor in one of the TV channels in Dhaka] in the office could not accept the fact that Ekram’s wife can write. What the heck! It could be any one’s wife.

I was angry; extremely angry, but pardoned them as I knew “Bengalis” do have this tendency of hating other’s success and well-being. They make up stories to give others bad names. Simple jealousy blinds them to see simple things simply. Well, who cares if you are angry in this country?

Let me tell you about another incident.

A friend of mine works in an international, for that matter British, organization in Dhaka. Only five of them works in that organization. These five persons earns a taxable amount of income. My friend works in a separate department than the rest four of his colleagues under the same roof. They spoke to the revenue board chief and the chief said they would not be taxed. These people were not still convinced. Only one of them applied for tax evasion as a test case. As the revenue department chief told them, he got letter, saying that he would not have to pay tax. The rest four people applied for the same thing, then.

The three of my colleagues pursued the revenue office to get their letters quickly. They got the letters pretty quickly. But they told my friend nothing. When my friend enquired about it, they said they didn’t get any letter from the revenue board. One among them is a television serial actor. They behaved in such a way that they are also waiting for their letters.

When my friend came to know about it, he was badly hurt. He thought he had a good relationship with his colleagues and they would do everything together when it comes to matter like this. They could have at least told him they were going to get the letter. But they didn’t. They thought they shouldn’t bother telling someone about this whereas these five people meet everyday, have lunch together everyday, cooperate among each-other on professional matters!

I asked my friend: “Why didn’t they tell you? Was it their intention to deprive you from this facility of tax evasion?”

He said: “They always behave like this when they think someone from another department may reap any official benefit. They have done this before, but this was the height of it!”

Now why did my friend’s colleagues behaved in such a way? Why did my former managing editor and my journalist-friend think I was writing the articles for my wife? It’s because my friend’s office-mates thought why would somebody, who isn’t in their department, reap the benefit. My former managing editor and my journalist-friend could tolerate the fact that Ekram’s wife could write articles in a language which they have been trying for many years. Burning years of experience in the media, these two people still cannot write an article properly. Why should someone write which they can’t?

I remember some told a joke once:

A person was sent to hell after his death. However, the almighty God had pity on his poor creation. He gave him a choice: he would choose by himself as to which hell he should be put in.

God ordered one of his angels to take the human around to the hells and then he would choose his hell.

So, they went. The human saw well-built guards who were guarding all the hells he visited. At last, they arrived at a hell where there were no guards. He became inquisitively surprised.

He asked the angel: “Why aren’t there any guards appointed at the gate of this hell? What if the hell-dwellers escape?”

The angel replied: “Have a good look at them. This is a hell for the Bengalis. We don’t really need guards for Bengalis. If any Bengali attempts hellbreak, the others would pull him or her down into the hell against.”

Well, this is a perfect portrayal of Bengalis!!!
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