Bangladesh politics continues to amaze and dismay in equal proportions as I read today that 151 candidates in the January elections will be elected unopposed breaking all previous records in the country (and maybe anywhere I suspect?). This is number is also predicted to increase. This is the nature of the ‘free and fair’ democracy here at the moment.
So more than 50% of all the candidates for seats have nothing to worry about and as most of those are from the current ruling party it’s looking like a potential landslide victory for the Government (or if not, the most hilarious defeat in the history of democracy) and yet another four years of parliament being a half-empty shell.
Today is also the day Bangladeshis remember the final day of the 1971 war for independence when over 200 intellectuals were taken – presumably out of spite by an army which already knew it was defeated – and murdered before the official surrender on the 16th December. Forty-two years later and the pain and feeling of emptiness hasn’t lessened for the country. It is difficult, as an outsider, to know just what to feel and think about that so I will pass on without more comment.
For my family, we dealt with our own kind of (very literal) emptiness yesterday as our AC units were taken away…
…then more furniture too.
More goodbyes too. Over the five years Wifey and I have taught English for many individual boys, girls, men and women. I gave my very last English lesson to my latest students yesterday. These are members of our Bangla family and we’ve always given all lessons without charge. The quality of English teaching in schools is not good yet it is, in almost every way of looking at it, the official ‘second language of Bangladesh’. We’ve taught it to help those we know experience the language properly – though you could argue that a Cumbrian girl and a Midlands lad who has a healthy disregard for grammar rules are possibly not the ideal teachers for English!
Then, in the evening we went for another meal invitation – this time with the parents of the Bangladeshi doctor I was Best Man for earlier this year in Oxford. You can see from the pictures that the Bangladesh shitkal, or Winter season has kicked in truly now and we are going out in jumpers and shawls. Friends from the UK, of course, will be spluttering at the thought of going out in a T-shirt and jumper at this time of year!
We came home to a house which was a little colder, a little clearer, a little emptier. Snuggling under a blanket, the four of us watched an episode of Friends on a little laptop before reading the Advent Calendar by Steven Croft – our Christmas daily reading this year. We’re all feeling the stress of leaving – especially now almost all our luggage has already gone done to Dhaka and very little of ‘us’ is left here – and feel the need all the more to hold on to one another literally as much as figuratively.