The Baby in the Building

Picture one of those nice sleek ads that we saw last month for Independence day. Or two weeks ago for Pahela Boishakh. Then keep the audio the same, but replace the visuals with the images from Savar. Why change the visuals but keep the audio, you may ask? Easy answer, I am a big coward. I can look at a dead body and maybe imagine it is still alive, if not for the veneer of white dust accumulated on the face and limbs. But the cries for help? Those whom we have doomed to die? I can’t handle that. So, just the video please.

Successive governments in Bangladesh’ like to weave a tapestry of sorrow, a cup of bitterness, that becomes its inheritance, its iconic memory. Each of our leaders leave behind their own signature injuries that they lovingly inflict on the corpus of the Bangladeshi state. From Wiki:

Chinese Water torture, is when a person is locked up to where the victim cannot move. Then cold water is slowly dripped one drop at a time (usually 1 drop every 6-14 seconds). It eventually drives the victim crazy A) (Because they are waiting for the drop each time B) Because they can’t use their hands to wipe off the water or warm up their face from the cold water.

This government seems to have an affinity for the slow drip-drip of chinese water torture. It started its tenure with Pilkhana. But the army officers and their families had the decency to keep their screams to themselves. If there is a massacre, but no one hears your screams, does it make a sound?

But Savar. Savar is different. The screams are very much audible. Audible and inconvenient. Survivors have to be recompensed. Survivors will be witnesses to multiple levels of failure at the governmental (national and local) and business machineries. And it is dangerous to be a witness to inconvenient things in Bangladesh. Remember what happened to those countless BDR jawans who had those “heart attacks” while in custody?

Probably better to fish out the dead bodies. Bury them in a national day of mourning. Bangladeshis are very good at mourning.

And what about Mr. Sohel Rana, the man of the hour? Who cares if he was Jubo League or a supporter of the local Awami league MP? Flip Judo League to Jubo Dal. Flip Awami league to BNP. Nothing will change. There are tens of thousands of Sohel Ranas out there. Jubo Dal/League functiosn as the Junior Chamber of Commerce in Bangladesh. Sohel Rana is the indispensable man in Bangladeshi politics: wealthy, able to provide some bodies at a moment’s notice, and savvy to the needs of the local UNO and OC. Bangladesh has probably been deprived of the services of a future city corporation mayor, if not an MP. And the premium on the services that a Sohel Rana can provide are at a seven-year high right now. If you don’t have Sohel Ranas, your motorcades end up charred like in Fatikchari. If you don’t have Sohel Ranas, the media castigates you for having “shithil” hartals. The political apparatus needs, nay demands, Sohel Ranas. If Sohel Rana contests Dr. Kamal Hossein, not in the next election, but in the election after that, from any seat in Dhaka with nouka, Kamal Hossein will lose.

But thankfully, that’s not the entire story. Thankfully, there is more. There is always more.

Two of the garments staff gave birth while trapped in the rubble of Rony Plaza. One of the babies has died. The other one is still alive.

If the baby makes it out alive, it will be through the heart-stopping bravery of the men who are crawling into the debris to get the survivors out, and the institutions who are servicing them. Yes, the institutions like Enam Medical College, the Civilian Fire Defense, and the Bangladeshi Army. Because emotions fall and passions cool, but institutions and institutional memory allow prompt responses and life-saving measures.

I am rooting for the baby.

3 thoughts on “The Baby in the Building

  1. Thank you for giving us some good news amidst all the doom and gloom.

    That bit about the necessity for people like Rana should be fleshed out into it’s own blog post.

    1. Thanks PP. I am glad that Sohel Rana has been arrested. I am less glad that the Bangladeshi state had to resort to the type of collective punishment (arrest person’s relatives and harass them) that should have no place in a democratic society. And I am confounded by what authority our honorable High Court has ordered that the assets of six individuals who have not been convicted of any crimes whatsoever be seized.

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