30 Final Days of Bangladesh – Day 17 – Hatred and Friendship

Last night they executed Molla.

All around the country there has been incidents of violence though I’ve not caught up with the news today to tell much that has gone on. I do know that many of our friends are very nervous – and some most certainly frightened – of the attacks from those that supported Molla. It’s been most concerning to hear that the same groups in Pakistan have declared him a  martyr and prayers have been offered for him (allegedly, I’ve only seen photos and can’t confirm validity) in the UK.

It saddens me to observe how the community spirit which has so impressed me, so moved me about Bangladeshis also has this ‘evil twin’ of communalism where one group will actively seek out the destruction of another. It is what Molla was all about in 1971 and it seems nothing much has changed. I read Lajja (banned in Bangladesh) by Taslima Nasrin recently and was moved by the comments of one of the characters of how boys who just days earlier had been friends of his were not baying for us blood and trying to kill him simply because he belonged to a different community group. He wonders how a single incident which happened in another country could suddenly make him a stranger to his own brothers.

Lest you think I’m attacking religion here – I’m not – it also reminds me of my town in the UK which has engaged in rivalry with the neighbouring town for as long as anyone can remember.  These days, to my knowledge, that rivalry is friendly but in years past it has been bloody and violent. Funnily enough, in those days people had a great sense of community spirit most would believe. Nothing to do with faith here – just two northern towns with folk pretty much the same as each other.

I wonder if we can ever separate the bonding that community gives from the hate of ‘other’ that seems to come along as the flipside of the same coin?

Last night, in the midst of all the trouble over Molla, we spent the evening with a woman who lived through the terrors of the 1971 war. Her story is a remarkable one and should be told one day but not today. She is a good friend and colleague of Wifey and her home is not one we’ve visited for a while. In fact, most of the rooms didn’t exist the last time we came when one of her daughters was marrying. It was strange to see them!

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I failed to remember to take pictures of the delicious food we were served – I was too busy eating it! I did remember to take pictures of the snacks afterwards – tel pitas – as they are called.

Tel pita and mishti - delicious!

Tel pita and mishti – delicious!

What delighted Wifey was the way our friend kept referring to us as family as we chatted. There was no gain in doing this. It was a simple statement of affection, of unity, of community – of relationship. 

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That thought has warmed our hearts as much as our friend’s food delighted our bellies.

About D K Powell

British freelance journalist, author, writer, editor, musician, educational consultant. I lived with Wifey, Thing I (daughter) & Thing II (son) in Bangladesh for 5-6 years working for an NGO called LAMB. Wifey led the Hospital Rehab department and I used to teach O levels at the school before going full-time as a freelance writer in 2013. Now we're back in the UK learning how to be British again. When not writing or editing, I'm busy trying to complete a Masters degree in Intercultural relations in Asian Contexts and reading way too many books at once. I also drink tea - lots of it.
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6 Responses to 30 Final Days of Bangladesh – Day 17 – Hatred and Friendship

  1. Pingback: 30 Final Days of Bangladesh – Day 24 – Goodbye to LAMB staff | kenthinksaloud

  2. Pingback: 30 Final Days of Bangladesh – Day 19 – Empty Shells | kenthinksaloud

  3. Tim Naylor says:

    Lovely observations on the meaning of community and friendships, Ken! Looking forward to having you all back!

    Like

  4. may God bless you and your family and get you safely back
    doug

    Like

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