30 Final Days of Bangladesh – Day 19 – Empty Shells

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.

I don’t think we’re likely to see the end to more hartals & oborods then and with the Jamaat e Islami up in arms over the execution of Molla I think we can expect many more deaths yet too.

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…

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…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!

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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.

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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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9 Responses to 30 Final Days of Bangladesh – Day 19 – Empty Shells

  1. Ruth Subash says:

    Pleased to read your luggage has left and gone to Dakha x

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  2. Norah says:

    You know in the beginning I thought it’d be a lot of fun reading about your days this final month, which it has been and is, but it just keeps getting more and more sad :(. I don’t know why I feel so sad, I’m not even there! But it’s just the way all the furniture keeps disappearing and you keep saying goodbye (which is something I avoid as much as I can!)… I mean c’mon, you’ll at least visit some day right?

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    • Aww…I’m not sure how to react to that Norah! It IS sad but it is also a special time of remembering those important to us and celebrating our relationship with them.
      Yes, we WILL return but the future is an uncertain one both for us in the UK and for our friends left here in volatile Bangladesh. As it is, this poor region knows how life and death interchange in an instant. Put that all together and I find that we have to make the most of every moment we have now because it is in the hands of Allah as to when or if we will ever return.

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      • Norah says:

        Sigh… yeah I understand. I just wonder how can you possibly deal with that many goodbyes?! When I visited Bangladesh as a kid, I would always walk as fast as possible away from the “goodbye zone” not looking at anybody… and then apparently my eyes would always be in tears on the plane (according to mom).

        And I’m also amazed at how much family you’ve managed to get over there. All the sisters, brothers, daughters! You’ll have soooo much to tell your grandchildren one day!

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        • It may seem weird to say but I actually like goodbyes. They’re painful, yes, but they’re real and they tell you by the emotion you feel just how important someone was and is to you. We’re also well used to goodbyes – over the last six years we’ve said an awful lot of them…

          You’re right – I have so much family here and I love it! I’m just dreading the plane ticket prices for all the weddings that will come over the next few years! :-/

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