Thursday, June 24, 2004

Below the belt: We much rather have our "Shonar Bangla"!

Smarting from his defeat in a vainglorious attempt to be appointed the Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Conference, the Bangladesh candidate Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury (SQC hereafter) on return to Dhaka has unleashed an agenda to harangue the NATION, by moving into a realms of obnoxious theatrics.

Rather than stand up with grace and accept his defeat to the much trumpeted 'sure shot' post of General Secretary of OIC lost as result of a last minute secret ballot, a much peeved SQC fired his salvo upon arrival in Dhaka by lashing our at the Leader of the Awami League and her constant attack of his being part of a gold and arms smuggling cartel.

The duo entendre of the Bengalee word "Shona'" being the case in point here, and depending on its usage, whether in public or private, and in its intent or purpose whether sincere or plain grotesque, the irony is the word translated into English means both 'gold' as much as it does the male genital!

Apparently the much hassled politician had 'taken it for a year' and thought enough was enough and this is the opportune time to counter-attack the Opposition headlong. However what is not understandable is, why has he chosen the time just after his defeat to launch his demolition derby on an unsuspecting and vulnerable citizenry ill prepared to either digest the shallow and vulgar meaning of the word "Shona" - and who would prefer the more profound and correct expression GOLD?

Reading between the lines all the press reports specially the Bengalee tabloids that quoted him verbatim, what transpired in his carnival like press conference on the 21st June, would leave anybody sensible to easily draw a conclusion that more than the Opposition, the irascible politician known for his quick fire retorts in any situation - the object of his shallow 'Punch and Jody' exercise was to make abject fools out of our journalist and media fraternity, who with their known leaning towards the Opposition were quite ill prepared to reprimand him on terms the citizenry would have liked.

The time spent on what and how he meant or intended the use of the word "Shona" i.e. in his reported quip "If she wants to ask for gold (Shona), she has to ask her husband first, why drag me into it?".....SQC tarried word for word with journalist and wanted to know how the leader of the Opposition meant when SHE used the word "Shona' - going on to say had she used "Shorno" (the academically correct expression for "Shona"), none of this unfortunate situation would have transpired.

Time for all of us to re-learn Bengalee?

In his defense SQC said his retorts where on the same line of 'meaning' - that of the Leader of the Opposition, yet there was none to remind him that, that whatever may be the meaning, such blatant misuse of 'double-expressions' are not only undesirable, people look up to 'Leaders' for directions, not divisions which such unwanted public utterances entail.

Once again it is the press that needs to 'relearn' how to 'quote' qoutes and do so with some haste!!!

The further spiral down in the sordid drama where he went on a free-for-all in describing the uncircumcised male genitals of a Shonatoni Leader of the Opposition, by asking: "was my circumcision an act of vulgarity" - is denigrating polity to that of the gutter. The people of Bangladesh certainly deserve better, for we do not want to ever end up believing that old adage: "Every country deserves the Leaders they have".

It would be no mistake to predict that this sordid saga of "Shona" is destined to be a slippery slide down the road to more profanities, and what is ominous is the last sentence by SQC before the press conference concluded:

"Ladies and Gentlemen - this is Open Season, Foul language will be countered with Foul language".

Is this the reaction of a man who would go all out to destroy the 'fabric of propriety' that we as a nation try to uphold at all cost, simply because he lost in a belated 'democratic exercise' of the OIC? Would he have launched attacks on the Leader of the Opposition in such 'colorful terms' in the event that he was elected Secretary General of the OIC? If Islam preaches sobriety in public conduct, surely the so-called Islamic Ummah has been spared electing somebody as undignified as SQC. Islam can certainly do without such 'statesman' and OIC richly deserves a round of applause.

The 'Open Season' of our politicians and journalist combine, that are totally divorced from the aspirations of the people who would much rather move on in his day to day existence, in his toughest priority that of SURVIVAL, the enigma of verbal diarrhea and innuendoes of the below the belt category will surely activate catharsis of events that would not preclude taking on the perverse with more perversity, shallowness with brutal expression of very many words with double meanings. Steps downwards are always easy.

At the end of the day, none of us - specially our patriotic Armed Forces, should be left wondering when we stand in rapt attention to our national anthem "Amar Shonar Bangla" - whether it is the male genital or the rifle that needs be held tight!

We much rather have our "Shonar Bangla' as much as we await with bated breath how SQC interprets the word "Ostro" or weapon which he has promised at a later date.

As the Yanks would say - Son of a Gun!

First Published 23rd June 2004

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