mind. How events a thousand miles away can affect our lives in so many
ways. How connected we are in our joys and our sorrow. I realise that
Bangladesh was not as badly affected as our neighbours, and that we
should take pride in our achievements, but Bangladeshi newspapers today
gloated over the victory of the Bangladeshi cricket team over India in
their headlines! While I fret over the fact that the media plays on the
negative, to downplay a disaster of such proportions in favour of a
cricket match said a lot about our sense of proportions. In 1991, when
nearly a million people had gathered to demand the trial of a war
criminal, the government had chosen to ignore the news and mentioned
instead the man of the match in a cricket game in Shunamganj. I had
hoped a free media would play a more responsible role.
As I watch BBC and CNN interview British and German tourists, and the
director of Oxfam from her office in Oxford, I remember my experiences
in the 1991 cyclone where one hundred and twenty thousand people died in
Bangladesh. As I stumbled through the debris, trying to get a sense of
what had happened on the night of the 29th April 2001, I kept asking
"What happened that night?" The aid workers told me of the number of
bags of wheat they had distributed. The government officials quoted the
figure in dollars that would be needed for reconstruction, the engineers
spoke of the force of the wind.
A young woman in Sandweep looked at me and said "The land became a sea,
and the sea became a wave".
I try to imagine the tsunamis hitting the coasts of India, and Sri Lanka
and Indonesia, and remember her words. The thousands whose lives have
been wrecked by the earthquake do not constitute the 'experts' that the
media consider worth asking.
27th December 2004
On a very very very very unethical change of subject, I have traded my defunct HP for this:
Hope Tekwani is ok though. He's been MIA for a damn long time.