Friday, January 21, 2005

Eid-Al-Azha - The 'Hum-Bah' Essay!

If 'Qurbani' means 'sacrifices', surely the first 'sacrifice' in the entire cyclic process of the food chain, was made by a Hindu cattle herdsmen in India when he bade a tearful farewell to 'mother' - long before it reached a Muslim household in Bangladesh? On the other hand, for the Muslim, witnessing the death of the Hum-Bah is alike an orientation to manhood, perhaps a quiet reflection once a year that death may not always be as brutal - but then who knows.

Eid-Al-Azha - The 'Hum-Bah' Essay!

There are very few creatures on earth as innocent as the Hum-Bah - and try as we must in terming them Bull, Cow, Ox, or other mindless expressions, it remains oblivious to these categorizations made by the human species. While we make a big deal out of comparing the eyes of a doe to those we are in madly in love with - never ever, even in the worst of B Grade nightmare movie dialogues, do we hear lovers stating:

"But darling, those eyes of yours are as beautiful as those of the Hum-Bah"!

But what is it that we find in the eyes of the doe worth beholding and not those of the Hum-Bah? Because deer's live in real jungles as opposed to the concrete jungle the human species dwell in, we see them rarely up close other than in a chance encounter at a zoo, or maybe at somebody's 'private collection'. Conversely, only because the domesticated Hum-Bah is within human reach, access and exploitation, we have made it a habit of making this poor creature the butt of all our rancor, contempt, jokes and unutterable profanities - with the much abused distortion of the term 'ox-faeces', being the supreme insult invented by the human species!

It is therefore only natural, that serious bovine lovers among the human species may feel incensed in the manner we deliberately and systematically strip Hum-Bah off the respect they truly deserve.

We Bangladeshi's eat…. Sorry…'digest' hundreds upon thousands of Hum-Bah, and we are surely a 'blessed' lot, in that 'beef' reaches us 'blood dripping fresh' every day. It is important to point this otherwise trivial matter, for the world's most consumerist human specie, the American is denied of this great fortune. We know all too well that Hum-Bah flesh sold in departmental stores in the United States of Arrogance, are two to three months stale and is usually frozen. Quite the reverse in Bangladesh.

We digest Hum-Bah meat everyday and it might not be a huge error in calculation to conclude that 1,00,000 of these poor creatures are digested by the 120 million strong population of Bangladesh EVERYDAY? Therefore 365 TIMES 1,00,000 = a staggering 36.5 million Hum-Bah's digested each year? Other then our daily consumption, around Qurbani time during Eid-Al-Azha, an additional 10 to 15 million Hum-Bah's are
per force 'martyred'?

Question: Do we produce as many Hum-Bah's in Bangladesh in the ratio we slaughter them? No we don't - which should lead us on to surmise that to reach a state of equilibrium, we ought to be 'producing' 10 times more Hum-Bah, to counter the menace of our reckless 'digesting'! If it were NOT, the Hum-Bah flesh crazy human species of Bangladesh would be in throes of severe protein deficiency, even death - poverty being the last but inexplicable monument to our wanton and tasteless taste buds.

"So, where the hell do we get that many Hum-Bah's from?"

'From India of course' and that is neither a dark secret, nor something we worry too much about. In India the killing of Hum-Bah is 'cardinal sin' and few people in that country have to indulge in this macabre Hum-Bah flesh digestion ritual. Not surprisingly we often confront newspaper captions in Kolkata under photographs of herds of hungry and badly nourished Hum-Bah down to their bare skeletons:

"You cannot eat them, neither can you feed them - what do you do with them?"

Leave it to 'fundamentalists' Marwari smugglers with Muslim Maulana's in combi to bail you out in answering that question. "While digesting Hum-Bah is cardinal sin, nowhere in any 'Holy Book' does it say you cannot sell them - specially when you can't feed them", provides just the right theological tempo for hundreds upon thousands of Hum-Bah's making 'illegal infiltration' into Bangladesh - with the human species providing a 'push-in' of sort, which on the flip side when inflicted upon its own kind, leads to days after days of endless and useless
political bantering.

All that is needed to have your hands on 'liquid' hard cash, is to assemble the Hum-Bah herd all across the Indian frontier and in unison do a 'hurrrrr, hurrr, hai, haiiii' and a neat border-crossing to be received as 'favorite food' of the Bangladeshi Muslims is completed with gusto - a classic case of the proverbial Bengalee 'case-fit' or Mission Accomplished! There being no Passport or Visa formality, or demands for 'transit facility" the Hum-Bah does not have a 'nationality', and is outwardly a secular creature. More on that later.

Which brings us to the question: How do we know that these Hum-Bah's are 'illegal Indians' and how on God's earth do you sort out their 'difference' with their Bangladeshi counterpart? No easy answer or 'flag meeting' here for us.

Given the Hum-Bah's we see regularly, most of them are from Sindhi, Hariyanvi or Punjabi herds, i.e. - they are neither from Bangladesh nor from the neighboring Indian regions and were possibly 'foreigners' even in the state of West Bengal.

Passport, visas, nationality or communal identity notwithstanding, around Eid-Al-Azha times we get to see some highly unusual Hum-Bah's. Take for instance the Australian Jersey and Friesian Hum-Bah's reared in Savar near Dhaka, the tenth to fifteenth generation offspring's of original "expatriates" imported by the governments Dairy Farm. They cost a fortune more than "deshi Hum-Bah's", for they are maintained at phenomenal comfort and quality upkeep, their 'output' of milk, almost triple that of their native cousins.

Contrary to popular misconceptions, it is not always a 'push-in' situation - Bangladesh has a few unreported cases of 'push-backs' as well. From Shingair (a pidgin for the word SINGER, the sewing machine company has it factory there) near Dhaka for instance, Hum-Bah's travel the reverse direction to 'cattle markets' in West Bengal and Assam, in somewhat ex-officio status of "Hum-Bah Ambassadors of Bangladesh" - long live the motherland!

To be on the clear, let us put it this way: Hum-Bah smuggling is an 'economic' activity and completely 'non-communal' and 'secular' in character, for whenever the creature enters Bangladesh from India, it comes laden with a 'hide' on its back! While beef industries have proliferated in most countries across the globe, the Bangladeshi obsession for 'fresh' Hum-Bah flesh has seen similar "industries" failing to develop in the region. If inextricably consumption of Hum-Bah flesh were not a 'cardinal sin' in India, Bangladesh would have been left with no choice but to import container ships full of frozen beef at prices higher than GOLD from Australia or God knows where else, not to forget the Mad Cow Disease - to make us all that wee bit 'madder'.

Again millions in the Bangladesh population earn a livelihood working in tanneries, leather and shoe industry designed to profit from sale of Hum-Bah hide, illegal or otherwise. Organic fertilizer, even paper is produced from Hum-Bah bones, hoof and horn off-takes. In particular, hides collected during the Eid-ul-Azha bovine-icide is very valuable, for unlike professional 'butchers', ordinary citizens of the country take extra ordinary care in extricating the same off the back of the martyred creatures - also since most of the martyrs are 'young' their hides are soft and pliable!

Traders in the tannery business wait in anticipation of making a huge 'killing' in profits this time of the year. Security all across 'cattle markets' are appropriately 'beefed up' and to keep this exercise hazard free, extortionists and other hoodlums join force to employ huzurs (meaning venerated Sir - read bearded Mullahs) to maintain serene calm and justify that their earnings are kosher or 'halal'.

Unbelievable but true, this is also the time of the year when Madrassas and other Islamic institutions join in as 'middlemen' and we liberals take a respite from abusing them as Razakars (Traitors), fundamentalist, Taliban or Al-Qaeda 'terrorists'. The Huzurs favor us by not resorting to any Fatwas insinuating that Hum-Bah's originating from Hindu farms in India is 'haram' or 'unbecoming of Holy slaughter' - Allah be pleased!

While there is an element of domestic politics in the Hum-Bah hide business, and occasional disputes, clashes and even murders, overall, the exercise is festivity positive as is exemplified by the millions of posters plastered all across the country, in buses, boats, cars, trucks, you name it - basically any open space that can take an extra poster with one sentence reminding everybody:

"Qorbanir Chamra Mukto Hostay Daan Korun" - DONATE YOUR SACRED HUM-BAH SKIN

By that is meant, whatever may be the cost of the 'hide' is not to be retained for personal consumption, but donated to charity and at an average of Taka 1000 per skin TIMES 15 million - we are talking about billions going into Islamic charities.

Probably explains why Madrassas in Bangladesh can survive without the 'charities' of the Semite Al-Qaeda or the Aryan Talibans? A humble Hum-Bah 'effort' to George Bush's "War on Terror" - a quiet, international contribution if we may!

Eid-Al-Azha is also time for great merriment's surrounding the Hum-Bah. While the citizens of the country digest Hum-Bah flesh daily, this is the only time of the year, they get anywhere 'close' to the creature, that too for a period of a day or two. They are fed, bathed, caressed, children get to sit on then, and their necks are adorned with colorful paper garlands, while its sharp horns are covered for unknown reason with red cloth. Orientation with the Hum-Bah 'nature' comes hand in hand, with injuries from kicks, butts and shoves taken all in good humor and peals of laughter.

There are dangers of course and the worst nightmare is a totally out of control Hum-Bah going berserk after having snapped and freed itself from the rope that held it to a pillar or tree. The Huzurs are quickly summoned, who as a matter of routine catapult to status of Maulanas (or 'knowledgeable' venerated Sir} with apparently the "right knowledge" as how to overpower the "beast", leaving everybody procrastinating if it is the human species or the Hum-Bah the beast - that needs controlling?

One however need not be a great pundit to figure the secular status of the Hum-Bah.

For example, the Hum-Bah we decide to 'martyr' every Qurbani is born and reared in a Hindu homestead in India. For a Hindu who loves "Mother Hum-Bah" and considers it God, knows all to well that individual 'human lives' are in the hand of Bhagwan, Iswar et al, also knows well that it is only this sense of realization that sets apart the human species from BEASTS.

The Hum-Bah therefore sets out for its journey back to the creator, and for the Hindu, all of it happens without the mandatory obligation of having to see first hand 'evidence' of how death occurred to 'mother'. He is not prepared to stand witness to her death, it grips him with fear, he is not fearless, and above all this is a bolt on his BELIEF, which ultimately cannot be any fault of the Hindu religion. For a Hindu, leaving 'Mother Hum-Bah' at the mercy of fate, cannot be any fault of God either?

If 'Qurbani' means 'sacrifices', surely the first 'sacrifice' in the entire cyclic process of the food chain, was made by a Hindu cattle herdsmen in India when he bade a tearful farewell to 'mother' - long before it reached a Muslim household in Bangladesh? On the other hand, for the Muslim, witnessing the death of the Hum-Bah is alike an orientation to manhood, perhaps a quiet reflection once a year that death may not always be as brutal - but then who knows.

By the time this piece reaches readers, the moans of 'hum-bah, hum-bah' should be resonating in chorus across all our neighborhoods. Shall we ask ourselves with all honesty whether we look up to the creature with LOVE, or do we half wonder and drool in our saliva how 'kofta, kalia' and other delicacies we shall surely be making out of its 'meat' taste? Shall we put to death the innocent Hum-Bah to symbolize the 'sacrifice', the butchering of our frailties, or be consumed by the 'taste' of its departed flesh - and really how long do these olfactory taste last?

It is time we reflect whether LOVE which is the first condition to the creation of life, merely revolves around consumption, LOVE of the body, mind or the appreciation of a deeper conscience
.
Conflicts among our communities are unending, simply because Muslims do not believe Hindu's and vice versa. Other than appreciating love, the greatest debacle we face is in our belief system more often than not is conflicts have a tendency to revolve fundamentally around breach of TRUST - resulting in degradation of human values and the commencement of a time for cursing.

Hardest in the human species is overcoming broken trust that leads on to the death of love, death of a 'belief' - a belief system no matter how obscure or unexplainable is a belief every human in the planet is entitled to. Whenever a belief is challenged, broken or shredded - Iswar, Bhagwan or Allah surely is left disappointed.

Therefore, as we prepare to sacrifice the Hum-Bah this Eid, let us make a pledge to 'put to death' our hate, anger, lust, greed, conflict, sins and - employ a tight leash on our tongues.

With that, here is wishing everybody a very Happy Eid.

Eid-Mubarak!

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