Street & Beyond
Every day after I take my afternoon nap I usually like to take evening walks. I only like these walks when cold winter breezes start to appear and whisper little street stories through my ear lobes. Not a day passes to when a new story is not mended and shared by me every evening while I wander the stone pavements.
These tales are worth a thousand words, yet they are only whispers that no one has the time to take a notice of. With a new story every day, I invent a new angle of life. It is almost like unfolding a new chapter with a new and unique discovery.
The plastic castle
Marching on my way towards the airport rail station from Nikunja, I see many families living in plastic tents on the railway track lines. They have one hut and a family of usually four to sex living in a plastic bag sized tent. They have a small clay burner just outside the tent for cooking. With no place as a formal toilet, their children defecate on the railway tracks while the elders wait till the sun is down and everyone is asleep to get rid of their feces.
Out of poverty their children are desiccate with huge tummies swaging out right after their chest bones end. They beg for food from almost every traveller that enters the junction.
They are born here, and they live here, perhaps they die here as well and no one cares. I see roadies discussing how these plastic slums lower the beauty of their beloved Dhaka city. However, I never see any one asking who they are and why are they here.
The question that arises in my mind is --why do these poor naked and malnourished people come here and destroy the beauty of our city? Later when I look at them giggling and chitchatting while the mothers are busy picking up little pieces of dried tree branches for fuel and the children are busy begging, I wonder where do they come from and why do they live here in such a misery?
Many say they have village homes but they still come and live like this. Is it really possible to have a home but to still live in a plastic tent?
The two-legged horses
For people who are too lazy to walk a meter, an evitable form of transport, the Rickshaws, are always waiting for them in every street corner. While these two legged beings peddle with their bodies dripped in sweat, other two-legged beings sit behind him to be carried like kings.
These rickshaw pullers are strong and muscular like Ebonies or Mustangs, and when they pull their neck muscles swell out of their skin, bridging the gap between his strength and the rider's weight.
Their leg muscles are much like Messi's or Ronaldo's ; however, they never have even seen a professional football field in their lifetime. Their biceps and triceps are firmer than Thor's, Hulk's, or Venom's. However they have never lifted weights in a century.
Their skin tanned repeatedly by the burning Sun god and their repeated constant peddling reminds me of Albert Camus' Myth of Sisyphus. When I see them sweating under the scorching heat, it seems I am seeing Sisyphus dragging the stone up the mountain.
As the myth says, Sisyphus drags the stone up only to watch it fall. Yet he does it to show how he has accepted the absurdity of this fruitless labor. He accepts this punishment and neither denies nor is scornful of the gods who had punished him. Instead, he accepts it and that is what makes him my hero-- a hero undefeated by gods as his willpower is stronger than his punishment.
Similarly, these Rickshaw pullers also keep peddling every day, dawn till dusk, only to do the same for the next day. Neither is their poverty decreased by this, nor are their children turning into princes and princesses. Yet, they peddle every day, winning against the tyranny of the only visible almighty-- money.
These were some stories that were whispered to me by the street winds. I'm sure they tell you stories as well. Just take a small pause when you walk the streets and try to listen. You may just like one well enough to write about some day as well.
The writer is studying at Department of English, Notre Dame University Bangladesh