This is a tale of an apparent love triangle. Just like a dejected lover going off the railings, the protagonist parties involved have also become derailed, and turned rather into anti-heroes, probably from roots attached to a land that had once erupted from love but heightened now by the depth of their hatred. Sounds almost like a Shakespearean love story, does it not, however not so romantic perhaps when the life and livelihoods of 160 million people befall on the fate of this story’s climax!
I have permanently lived in Bangladesh for almost nine months now – enough to have witnessed the conception and birth of a child – and enough perhaps to have perceptibly speculated the modality of the general consensus. And my gut instinct, despite hearing quite the opposite on a daily basis, tells me, we are horrifyingly biased as a nation.
Remember Romeo and Juliet? The clear distinction between the Capulets and the Montagues? Well, Bangladesh is no different. No matter to what extent people on a day to day basis scream themselves hoarse claiming they support neither parties, at the end of the day when the election dawns on the horizon, just like in a sporting event or fictional, mythical characters from plays, we squirm our way back to the respective parties firm-footedly etched in our minds. It had always been Abahani vs. Mohammedan, India vs. Pakistan, and Awami League vs. BNP and for us to deviate too far from these known boundaries would need a shell-shocking nudge – something I believe the decision makers of this country are yet to experience.
Favouritism will always exist and it is okay to be biased to a certain extent, but only when the ratifications can be rationally justified. However, as always, what our dramatic subconscious, sub-continental mind awaits is perhaps a messiah.
I remember a lot of us were constantly hoping and praying for another caretaker government to descend and conduct a sweep right before the elections, similar to the one in 2006, and it probably go to show again the naivety that we nurture as Bangladeshis, the lack of foresight. We want a quick fix for everything – fast food, fast service, fast promotion and not necessarily in the order of merit but order of appearance! How we expected a temporary solution to have helped resolve long-standing issues in the long run, and why would we want history to repeat itself when we have already seen how it had ended last time round? Opportunity cost is something, the citizens of Bangladesh never seem to quite grasp, the fact that the price for earning quick bucks through short-cuts probably implies sacrificing your morals in the long-term and vice versa. Certain things in life can only be achieved in the old-fashioned way, through sheer hard work and perseverance, and we do not even have to venture far to find solid evidence if we for once looked at the success story that our neighboring country India had become by taking that long route. India was one of the last countries adopting colour televisions, as it fought to find means to lower the cost of locally made sets and had heavy custom duty tax imposed on any bought from overseas – opportunity cost of sacrificing convenience in the short term – a concept probably unfathomable for us as a race despite having other similarities in food, culture and habits with these neighbours. Patience is sadly a vice, not a virtue, within our perimeters.
The day would never come in Bangladesh when the general people get out on the streets to protest the betterment of this country. As Bangladeshis, it is no secret that we are submissive in nature, and that we all want somebody else to take that first initiative. However, once someone does, it is only a matter of minutes before we turn into a mob! Just like in any other country the ruling class, the decision-makers always sit back comfortably in their homes, sipping tea and debating over the state of the nation, while the masses die in hundreds.
We all support someone, or are inclined towards either one of the parties, and let us not fool ourselves into believing anything otherwise. However, what we do need to realise as the general population, the voters, is the fact that the people in power are no different than us. We need to judge them based on our own state of minds that when fraught with emotion, anger and vendetta, cannot make rational decisions. We have at one hand, a leader whose life had been spared by a miraculous stroke of luck, while every other shred of tie had been stolen. On the other hand, a leader who had suffered the most substantial loss and had been struggling to protect a legacy left behind. These are formidable foes, truly resurrected from the Shakespearean era. And God bless our sanity!