The color of my bruises

On the outside you see hues of confidence
Bold crimsons that communicate
A touch of a sexy plum and baby pink pearl
I am everything you love and everything you hate. 


But the rosy beauty is skin deep
The rush of magenta and haze of cream
The flashes of white innocence and gullible yellows
All fall apart like a mistaken dream 


Inside me there are deep gashes of angry blacks
Teamed with the stench of defeated blues
Inside me there is no fighter left
A sneaky green that is only a ruse. 


If my bruises are inside of me 
Can I make them count?
Can I wear my scars like emeralds and rubies  
Shattering the air in rainbow colored prisms of doubt.


Oh lovely scarlet and exuberant rust
Dear cerulean and pastel pink
Why must you snicker in the back
While I bleed in blueberry ink?


My blood could be as deep as burgundy wine
But it’s not glamorous enough to be embraced 
Unless ensconced in something fine
Glorified like a black dress adorned with pearls and chantilly lace 

I want to be subdued in lime 
And bold in grey
I want to fall apart 
And come together the next day 

I don’t want the judgement
Of a cool touch of teal. 
Or the hair ripping anger
That red makes me feel. 

You have made me your own patchwork of paint 
Deciding what colors to hide and which ones to celebrate
But I am not a an empty canvas that you can taint
With your judgements and anger and black listing hate 

I am not yours to draw and erase 
not your painting or next big creation
I am flesh and steel, made with no haste
Made from the lonely, the only one. 

-Srabonti Narmeen Ali
 

Mother’s Day happiness

For this year’s Mother’s Day (two days before) I was invited to my younger son’s preschools to celebrate moms. Fighting endometriosis cramps, a bad back and an impending migraine, I put on my best face (usually it’s sweats and a coat of Chapstick) and went to his school.

They had painted a locket the day before in school and the teacher strung it up for me and asked my son to make me a necklace with the beads she provided us with. True to character my son, whom we affectionately call Botox, stared at her and then me blankly, picked up a rubber spider from one of the toy jars in the room and started playing with it.

Everyone else’s kids were the picture of perfection, making pretty necklaces for their moms. I know a couple of the adults were thinking “look at that weird kid who won’t talk or communicate with anyone!”

Face burning, I made myself a necklace and escaped the room and the other moms as soon as possible. The next stop was making a crazy hat. Botox wasn’t having it. So we moved on to a parfait-making table. Since my son refused to make his own but wanted strawberries, I made one and sat down at the table where all the mommies were sitting with their kids. All of a sudden Botox wasn’t interested in parfait. And so I sat on the table and ate parfait while my son completely ignored me and everyone else who spoke to him, and instead played with the rubber spider he had stolen from the other room. The other mommies looked at me like I was hogging his food and I felt like a pig on top of inadequate.

When I was about to leave, he had a fit, and I had to take him home early. As soon as he came home he wanted to use his iPad, which I didn’t allow because it was technically still school time. I was treated to another meltdown which ended with him grabbing the necklace that I made and him saying that it was his and not mine.

When my seven year old came home from school he gave me his present. A little tree with a paper flower in it, listing all the reasons he loved me.

Now this is Mother’s Day, I thought to myself, as I teared up. Maybe Botox is too young to understand I told myself, ignoring the niggling doubts that had been in my head all day: why was everyone looking at me like he had a problem? Why were everyone else’s kids cooperative? 

I felt good until about two minutes later, when older kid got mad at me about not wanting to eat lunch and had a meltdown of his own (because, do they ever grow out of meltdowns)?

Interestingly, when I gave him “the mad mom look” he immediately calmed down, quickly handed me the Mother’s Day card and flower again and said that I couldn’t be mad at him, because “it’s Mother’s Day.” Knowing I was being manipulated, (and unsure as to whether I should explain the concept of Mother’s Day to him) I calmed down and put on my happy face.

Fast forward to the real Mother’s Day. I’ve only been up for one hour and I have already been treated to two meltdowns. One from Botox who doesn’t want to brush his teeth, because apparently you’re not supposed to brush your teeth in the morning; and one from the older one who somehow managed to get toothpaste on the walls, which prompted a scolding from me, and in turn a screaming fit from him. I can’t help but think, Is Mother’s Day like Valentine’s Day, where it only is relevant when you have a significant other, or in this case, cooperative, picture-perfect children?

I see the happy pictures on Facebook and I have to wonder what I’m doing wrong. Because seriously people, my mother’s days are like my birthdays. You think something awesome is going to happen until you realize that it’s just another day and someone has managed to trick you into believing that you’ll be getting special treatment.

But then, as I am writing this (on my phone so that I can be mobile and acquiesce to the demands of my kids while I’m writing) my little Botox puts a blanket on my legs because he thinks I’m cold (and then takes it back to cover himself) and my older son massages my back and tells me to rest and I realize that maybe life (and all these other holidays) are about the moments. In between the tantrums and the fighting there are stolen bits of consideration that perhaps make up for all the other stuff – until the next tantrum, that is.

For all the mommies like me. For the tired, for the harassed. For the moms who are parents of uncooperative kids who do things their own way. For the meltdown-trodden mother who cries at the words written on the paper flower and still wears the necklace she made for herself. Here’s looking at you, kid. Happy Mother’s Day to you.

Things Dhaka girls say…and what they actually mean

So here’s the thing. We all say things we don’t mean from time to time. But some Dhaka girls tend to take it a step further and totally take the piss. Now, ladies, I love you, but you know I’m right. 

Here’s a list of a few of my favorites complete with translations. Happy reading. 

All in good fun, of course. 🙂

1) To you: Oh my god, babe you’ve lost so much weight! You look great!

To their friends: How did that bitch get so skinny? Drugs? Starvation? Both?

2) To you: Love your hair! New haircut?

To their friends: Which butcher cut her hair? Kaaker baasha lagtese akdom. Joghonno. Doesn’t she own a fucking hairbrush?

3) To you: Your dress is fab!

To their friends: Her dress is fugly. And she looks like a fat cow. No sense of style whatsoever. 

4) To you: I totally didn’t know you were seeing him. 

To their friends: You know she’s sleeping with him. Slut. 

5) To you: You look so beautiful. 

To their friends: Khyaat.

6) To you: I think you are doing the right thing. 

To their friends: I can’t believe she did that! Some people have no sense. 

7) To you: You are so amazing. 

To their friends: Dhongi kothakar. What does she think of herself?

8) To you: Love you, babe!

To their friends: Ugh, I can’t stand her. Gaa jolay. 

9) To you: You should have slapped him!

To their friends: I don’t know how he puts up with her. 

10) To you: Honey, you deserve better!

To their friends: No wonder he left her! She is way too far up her own high maintenance ass. Oshojhho!

How to speak Dhaka Bhabi

Need tips on how to survive in Dhaka? This here is your guide. Step one: handle the Dhaka bhabis with finesse and you can never go wrong. 
The word bhabi quite simply means “older brother’s wife.” We in Dhaka, however, affectionately use the term when we are referring to someone who is a pain in the ass. Read below for details on how to survive the path to becoming a bonafide bhabi.  
1) Talk about your kids.
Bhabis are notorious for being obsessed with their children. Talk enough about your own child (if you don’t have one, talk about a nephew or niece) just to make her realize that you are someone who can “connect” with her. 
How to do it? Talk about what a difficult child you have so that she can give you unsolicited advice about how to do your job better than you. Bhabis love to feel like they are better than everyone else. Also make sure she can maintain her status of having the best kid around for miles. Do not play up your child’s strengths if you are a beginner bhabi. Otherwise you’re up shit creek. 
2) Learn to gossip in style. 
It is a common misconception that bhabis will gossip with just anyone. They do love to gossip and put other people down and judge others, but make no mistake they are very careful about doing it in front of outsiders. Hint: if you are reading this and enjoying it, you are an outsider. 
How to do it? Easy. Make passive aggressive statements peppered with “that’s so sad,” and “ahare” about the particular victim of gossip to dull the edge of your bitchiness a little. After all, they don’t want you to be more judgy than them. If that’s even possible. 
3) Open a Facebook account. 
You need to have fb so that you can keep up with the daily scandals. If you don’t do this you are dead in Dhaka. Or worse, a social pariah. 
How to do it? Go on http://www.facebook.com and follow the directions. If you are halfway educated, you’ll figure it out. 
4) Talk about clothes and jewelry. Like all the time. 
Okay, I know this is a stereotype but we all know bhabis love to talk saris and goyna. Especially when half of them own boutiques and sell jewelry imported from India. 
How to do it? Wear something nice and then let people complement you. Let the conversation flow from there. Note: when all else fails, just mention that you love Jarwa House. Don’t know what that means? Never mind. 
5) Talk about weight loss. 
Bhabis love talking about their weight and their diet and their exercise regime. Since they all fancy themselves to be yummy mummies with designer bags, at least 50% of them are trying to lose weight. Some of them have eating disorders but it’s best not to mention that. 
How to do it? Just ask any random bhabi how she lost all her weight. Guaranteed half an hour right there. 
6) Talk about food. 
Every bhabi can cook. Or rather, every bhabi can get their cook to cook. Or something. 
How to do it? If you know how to cook you are already ahead of the game. Discuss your favorite recipes and, be nice, learn to share. Nobody likes that bitchy bhabi who is kipta with her delectable recipes. If you don’t know how to cook, google a random recipe and memorize it. Recite it like you own it. 
7) Complain endlessly about your servants. 
Truth? Running a household is hard ass work. But only a bhabi can milk that shit for all it’s worth with aplomb. Bhabis love talking about the perils of dealing with a house full of incompetent idiots. And they love griping about their domestic help. Note: They make it sound more pc by using words like “chauffeur” and “staff.”
How to do it? Show up late at a party and talk about how your slutty maid was caught trying to run away with your married driver. Ungrateful wretches. Use the word wretch. It’s much more tasteful than bitch or asshole.
8) Don’t swear. 
Swear words, in the world of bhabis, are completely unladylike. If you curse like a truck driver you will make them very uncomfortable and they will think you are not appropriate company for their tea parties. Tsk tsk. 
How to do it? Use Enid Blyton novels for tips on words you can use to express disdain or frustration. Save your real swear words for when you get in the car on the way home. 
8) Smile that vapid smile.  
If you have RBF (resting bitch face) you are doomed. The best thing to do when a conversation is lagging or there is an awkward silence between you and said bhabi is to smile. 
How to do it? Pull out those 32 pearly whites (please go for a teeth cleaning beforehand). Also, complement said bhabi and tell her she is looking nice. 
9) Talk shit about your spouse. Kinda. 
Bhabis love to discuss how silly and useless their husbands are, but manage to very craftily make sure everyone knows how rich and powerful they are. It’s a beautiful art. One which, with careful practice, you too will master. 
How to do it? Talk about how “he” (try not to use his name – instead say “amar jamai”, or “amar big baby”) can’t do anything at home ie find his clothes, serve himself a glass of water, handle the kids on his own. While you are saying this, breezily slip in that he is so “absentminded” and “utterly hopeless” because he makes x crores a day and has no time to think about anything but money. Sigh and shake your head affectionately as you talk. 
10) Make everyone think you are super busy.
The beauty of being a bhabi is that she has the appearance of being crazy “basto,” but still manages to grace you with her presence and look fit fat. Bhabis are amazingly good at making you feel like the most useless piece of shit because they are are so good at doing everything and smiling all the while. Meaning if you are bad with time management and multitasking may the bhabi gods help you, cause you are genuinely fucked. 
How to do it? The best way to do this is to talk about your endless dawats and tea parties. And how between kiddie play dates, school pick ups, work and your insane social calendar, you have no idea how you find time for anything. Make sure to be modest and slip in that you are forgetful (when you are actually saying the exact opposite) or that you are terrible at juggling different things (which, again, is a lie that makes you look humble) just to make that person who is actually having a hard time keeping things together feel like a right failure. Superwoman, you are!
Option two: if you have a job call your junior (you better have one, because if you don’t, you have no business trying to be a bhabi) and yell at him, or at least talk down to him. Roll your eyes afterwards but refuse to go into details. Cause you know it’s all the more effective if your jobly duties remain mysterious. As long as you sound important. If you are jobless, never fear. Just call your domestic help and ask them if they have done some mundane job that they do regularly. Discuss the menu and while you’re on the phone, ask to speak to your children and tell them to finish their homework so that you can check it when you get home. Although your servants will think you’ve lost the plot, never fear. The Bhabis will be in awe. Instant respect and success.
11) Bonus Tip: If you are having sex do not talk about it. Ever. Bhabis don’t have sex. 
So there you have it. Good luck to all you bhabi wannabes. May you be a real bhabi someday. 

Insomniac Ramblings

Need tips on how to survive in Dhaka? This here is your guide. Step one: handle the Dhaka bhabis with finesse and you can never go wrong.

The word bhabi quite simply means “older brother’s wife.” We in Dhaka, however, affectionately use the term when we are referring to someone who is a pain in the ass. Read below for details on how to survive the path to becoming a bonafide bhabi.

1) Talk about your kids.

Bhabis are notorious for being obsessed with their children. Talk enough about your own child (if you don’t have one, talk about a nephew or niece) just to make her realize that you are someone who can “connect” with her.

How to do it? Talk about what a difficult child you have so that she can give you unsolicited advice about how to do your job better than you. Bhabis love to feel…

View original post 1,191 more words

How to speak Dhaka Bhabi

Need tips on how to survive in Dhaka? This here is your guide. Step one: handle the Dhaka bhabis with finesse and you can never go wrong. 

The word bhabi quite simply means “older brother’s wife.” We in Dhaka, however, affectionately use the term when we are referring to someone who is a pain in the ass. Read below for details on how to survive the path to becoming a bonafide bhabi.  

1) Talk about your kids.

Bhabis are notorious for being obsessed with their children. Talk enough about your own child (if you don’t have one, talk about a nephew or niece) just to make her realize that you are someone who can “connect” with her. 

How to do it? Talk about what a difficult child you have so that she can give you unsolicited advice about how to do your job better than you. Bhabis love to feel like they are better than everyone else. Also make sure she can maintain her status of having the best kid around for miles. Do not play up your child’s strengths if you are a beginner bhabi. Otherwise you’re up shit creek. 

2) Learn to gossip in style. 

It is a common misconception that bhabis will gossip with just anyone. They do love to gossip and put other people down and judge others, but make no mistake they are very careful about doing it in front of outsiders. Hint: if you are reading this and enjoying it, you are an outsider. 

How to do it? Easy. Make passive aggressive statements peppered with “that’s so sad,” and “ahare” about the particular victim of gossip to dull the edge of your bitchiness a little. After all, they don’t want you to be more judgy than them. If that’s even possible. 

3) Open a Facebook account. 

You need to have fb so that you can keep up with the daily scandals. If you don’t do this you are dead in Dhaka. Or worse, a social pariah. 

How to do it? Go on http://www.facebook.com and follow the directions. If you are halfway educated, you’ll figure it out. 

4) Talk about clothes and jewelry. Like all the time. 

Okay, I know this is a stereotype but we all know bhabis love to talk sari and goyna. Especially when half of them own boutiques and sell jewelry imported from India. 

How to do it? Wear something nice and then let people complement you. Let the conversation flow from there. Note: when all else fails, just mention that you love Jarwa House. Don’t know what that means? Never mind. 

5) Talk about weight loss. 

Bhabis love talking about their weight and their diet and their exercise regime. Since they all fancy themselves to be yummy mummies with designer bags, at least 50% of them are trying to lose weight. Some of them have eating disorders but it’s best not to mention that. 

How to do it? Just ask any random bhabi how she lost all her weight. Guaranteed half an hour right there. 

6) Talk about food. 

Every bhabi can cook. Or rather, every bhabi can get their cook to cook. Or something. 

How to do it? If you know how to cook you are already ahead of the game. Discuss your favorite recipes and, be nice, learn to share. Nobody likes that bitchy bhabi who is kipta with her delectable recipes. If you don’t know how to cook, google a random recipe and memorize it. Recite it like you own it. 

7) Complain endlessly about your servants. 

Truth? Running a household is hard ass work. But only a bhabi can milk that shit for all it’s worth with aplomb. Bhabis love talking about the perils of dealing with a house full of incompetent idiots. And they love griping about their domestic help. Note: They make it sound more pc by using words like “chauffeur” and “staff.”

How to do it? Show up late at a party and talk about how your slutty maid was caught trying to run away with your married driver. Ungrateful wretches. Use the word wretch. It’s much more tasteful than bitch or asshole.

8) Don’t swear. 

Swear words, in the world of bhabis, are completely unladylike. If you curse like a truck driver you will make them very uncomfortable and they will think you are not appropriate company for their tea parties. Tsk tsk. 

How to do it? Use Enid Blyton novels for tips on words you can use to express disdain or frustration. Save your real swear words for when you get in the car on the way home. 

8) Smile that vapid smile.  

If you have RBF (resting bitch face) you are doomed. The best thing to do when a conversation is lagging or there is an awkward silence between you and said bhabi is to smile. 

How to do it? Pull out those 32 pearly whites (please go for a teeth cleaning beforehand). Also, complement said bhabi and tell her she is looking nice. 

9) Talk shit about your spouse. Kinda. 

Bhabis love to discuss how silly and useless their husbands are, but manage to very craftily make sure everyone knows how rich and powerful they are. It’s a beautiful art. One which, with careful practice, you too will master. 

How to do it? Talk about how “he” (try not to use his name – instead say “amar jamai”, or “amar big baby”) can’t do anything at home ie find his clothes, serve himself a glass of water, handle the kids on his own. While you are saying this, breezily slip in that he is so “absentminded” and “utterly hopeless” because he makes x crores a day and has no time to think about anything but money. Sigh and shake your head affectionately as you talk. 

10) Make everyone think you are super busy.

The beauty of being a bhabi is that she has the appearance of being crazy “basto,” but still manages to grace you with her presence and look fit fat. Bhabis are amazingly good at making you feel like the most useless piece of shit because they are are so good at doing everything and smiling all the while. Meaning if you are bad with time management and multitasking may the bhabi gods help you, cause you are genuinely fucked. 

How to do it? The best way to do this is to talk about your endless dawats and tea parties. And how between kiddie play dates, school pick ups, work and your insane social calendar, you have no idea how you find time for anything. Make sure to be modest and slip in that you are forgetful (when you are actually saying the exact opposite) or that you are terrible at juggling different things (which, again, is a lie that makes you look humble) just to make that person who is actually having a hard time keeping things together feel like a right failure. Superwoman, you are!

Option two: if you have a job call your junior (you better have one, because if you don’t, you have no business trying to be a bhabi) and yell at him, or at least talk down to him. Roll your eyes afterwards but refuse to go into details. Cause you know it’s all the more effective if your jobly duties remain mysterious. As long as you sound important. If you are jobless, never fear. Just call your domestic help and ask them if they have done some mundane job that they do regularly. Discuss the menu and while you’re on the phone, ask to speak to your children and tell them to finish their homework so that you can check it when you get home. Although your servants will think you’ve lost the plot, never fear. The Bhabis will be in awe. Instant respect and success.

11) Bonus Tip: If you are having sex do not talk about it. Ever. Bhabis don’t have sex. 

So there you have it. Good luck to all you bhabi wannabes. May you be a real bhabi someday. 

For Rajon

Today I watched an 11 minute video of a group of grown men beating and eventually killing a 13 year old boy. His name was Rajon. He was crying throughout the beating and calling out for his mother (or at least that’s what I think he was saying). I watched the video four times. Yes, four. No judgement on those who didn’t. I don’t blame you. To be honest I had to force myself to. Because as much as it hurt me to watch it, that poor child went through it. 

Every time I watch it Rajon’s pleas and cries ring in my ears for hours afterwards. Interestingly enough I can’t remember what the bastard with the black t-shirt and the lungi looked like – the guy doing the actual beating. Neither do I really remember the other guy who kept tying and untying Rajon at his friend’s/ringleader’s will. What I cannot forget and probably will never forget is the hyena-like laughter of the man holding the camera. This wasn’t normal jeering; this laughter was the laughter of a sociopath. But that’s what all these people are – sociopaths. Not one person in that crowd looked the least bit hesitant after Rajon fell down and begged for mercy. Not one person said to stop, and that he had enough. I would know. Because I kept watching it. 

Some may say I’m morbid. Maybe you’re right. But as Adnan R Amin wrote in his article, The Death of Rajon, how much easier is it for us to read about this level of violence and move on to the next piece of news? Didn’t this news affect us more because there was a video out, whether you saw it or not? How about the fact that a seven year old got beaten to death by his uncle yesterday? That didn’t get half as much internet traction as this. 

The truth is that we all watch movies and TV serials with shitloads of violence. So to all of you sitting on your high horses about us morbid people watching the video, stop watching Game of Thrones, or whatever else the fuck it is you are watching. You may think that just because that is make believe and this is real life that it makes a difference, but really think about it. How desensitized have we become to violent acts against others? One boy dies today and the only reason it makes the front page as opposed to an obscure 300 word article in the middle of of the back page, is because some horrible person actually believed that he could get away with posting evidence of his crime on social media. Yeah, we really have reached that level of lawlessness. We really have become a nation where anything goes, and where men like these goons can claim, when Rajon is begging for them to take him to the police, that they are the police. Who gives them this power? Where do they get the balls? How do they think that they are untouchable? Is this what we are now? A nation of thugs? Four against one? Four grown men against a teenager. And they documented it, just for shits and giggles.

In order to fight people like this – these people who seem to be taking over our country – it’s high time we stop with the judging and finger pointing against each other. It’s useless and it’s just making whatever we have left of Bangladesh disappear more rapidly. We all have different ways of handling things and we should all be respectful of our differences. Isn’t that what this country was founded on? What we should focus on is this heinous crime itself. And why it happened. 

Some people believe that Rajon’s face should have been blurred, out of respect to his mother and his memory. I agree. It should have been. But not to make it easier on and less scarring for you. You did nothing. We did nothing. We let this happen. Because this man with the hyena’s laugh, after murdering a 13 year old child, decided he could put it up on Facebook. And that, my wonderful social media friends, is on us. 

What I dislike the most about social media in Bangladesh is that there is no room for unity. One person is attacking another for sharing the video, another is bringing in how so and so doesn’t care because he or she didn’t change his or her profile picture, yet another one is saying this shit happens every day and we are all terrible people who just talk about cricket and don’t take action. Guess what? For once every single person agreed on one thing.  

This. Should. Not. Have. Happened. 

Agree on that and leave the other crap behind. Don’t bicker over these other useless details of who could have done what differently and how many people actually stand up when a child is being beaten on the streets. 

Bangladesh is dying. Or dead even. So save it. Stop fighting amongst each other just for the sake of it and do what you can. I’m not saying go out and do something big. I’m saying as we reach the tail end of the holiest month of the Muslims, spend a moment to think about how you – just you – could do something different. Don’t point fingers, don’t get aggressive. Just be one. And fight as one. We don’t all need to be the same mold of person to reach our end goal of making Bangladesh whole again. We just need to make that one promise. 

I leave you with the words of Michael Jackson. I vow to you Rajon, that I will follow through on this:

“I’m starting with the man in the mirror

I’m asking him to change his ways

And no message could’ve been any clearer

If you wanna make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make a change.”

For you Rajon. May you rest in peace. #justiceforrajon

The great loss of the North

Perhaps the excitement in the air during the DCC 2015 Elections was something I made up in my head. The sun was burning bright, there was an infectious festivity all around. I suddenly remembered the Dhaka I grew up in. Don’t we always idealise our youth? Rickshaws sailing through the road with the carefree jangles of their bells, people walking on the streets without worrying about being attacked or run over. It was Dhaka North’s day out. 

This was the first election that I truly cared about. My family, who tends to forget (or perhaps ignore) the fact that I have a a brain, believes that I was excited because one of my childhood friends was running for mayor. They are half right – not about me not having a brain, of course, but yes, the fact that Tabith Awal was running for mayor of Dhaka North (of which I am a resident) made me sit up and take notice. Made me actually give a shit. 

Instead of the usual sea of nouka and dhaaner shish marka votes we had four impressive Dhaka North candidates all of whom were, in my very humble eyes, respectable. Saki, whose symbol was the telescope, represented transparency and leftist ideals; Tabith, whose symbol was the bus, represented hope and the vibrancy of youth; Mahi, the eagle, the charisma and perfect mix of old school politics and the new age; and Annisul Huq, the table clock, the steady hand of experience and age. 

That is what the Dhaka North candidates signified for me, at least. And all we, the people who voted, were looking for was a free and fair election. In the name of democracy. 

Today I woke up in the morning and walked over to Gulshan model school with my mother and husband to cast my vote. The system was straightforward, the polling officers were polite and even the policeman smiled at me when I walked away. I bumped into another childhood friend on my way out and took a picture with him, claiming, “it’s not every day your friend runs for mayor!” I took a rickshaw ride back home and had lunch with my family. I was content. For the first time, I thought Bangladesh had some beacon of light at the end of a long tunnel of violence and unrest. I really thought that it was pretty amazing that everything was so smooth and systematic. But I committed the cardinal sin of being hopeful. 

How could I think that it would be that simple? 

Within minutes of me coming home, word had spread that all three BNP candidates (Dhaka North, South and Chittagong) had boycotted the elections. Another Dhaka North candidate, Saki, had expressed his dissapointment and dissatisfaction at the way the election was playing out. Dhaka’s social media savviness was at its finest and soon we were bombarded with rumours of vote rigging, polls being closed before the alloted times, agents being booted out of voting centres, videos of people illegally stuffing ballot boxes, thugs trolling polling booths and intimidating people into voting for their chosen candidates, statuses about about peoples’ votes already being cast by someone else, reports of random people being seen voting multiple times, ID’s not being checked. Shockingly, my hope started to waver. 

I grew up in an almost fanatic Awami League family. Nothing else was accepted. You were either for AL or against Bangladesh. I believed it then and to some extent, I still believe it. It’s ingrained in me, it’s an imprint in my mind, always there in the back of my head. But I also believe in fairness. I believe that the only way to move forward is through change, through opening our minds and letting new ideas and different people into our lives. We need different points of view to survive just as much as we need people who are like minded. I believe that we deserve better as a people. I believe that we can work towards a Bangladesh worthy of what our freedom fighters gave their lives up for in 1971. And I also think that whatever the system is now, it’s not working. We are all suffering. We have all lost hope. 

For my part, I want an end to the violence, whoever is doing it. I want women to be able to walk around without being harassed. I want my kids to be safe. I want accountability on all sides. I want to be as proud of Bangladesh every day, as I am when the tigers win a cricket match. That is the Bangladesh I dream of. 

Tomorrow there will probably be another unending streak of hartals announced and we are back to square one. Back to the angry Dhaka that we cannot escape. Back to everything that is dark. 

I was dumb enough to believe that this election would give us something. Would make us all unite, no matter who won. I was silly enough to believe in Bangladesh. 

I do not know what to believe anymore.