Category Archives: #longreads

The Expressions and Their Stories: Part 1

One of the most interesting things to observe when one is walking aimlessly on streets and alleys is the expressions people offer. Take this photo for example. I took it about a month ago, it’s that small shop around the corner that sells candies, cigarettes, betel leaves and breath mints; they are very common in our city.
Now, I am no queen of emotional intelligence, but it appears to me that the shopkeeper IS smiling, but that is not a smile of amusement. He is smiling, but there is contempt in his smile.
What could bring such a smile on his face? Surely, it’s something the customer said.
It could be a remark on politics and corruption- they are two very popular topics in our country.
Or may be the customer just said something that he himself thought was funny, when, in fact, it was not. As most of the shops believe in “we can’t spell success without U” policy, the shopkeeper was just smiling to appear polite. What I thought was contempt was actually nothing but mere boredom.
This kind of shops usually have a very loyal customer base and the shopkeepers develop a close relationship with these customers. It may very well be that he buys half a dozen betel leaves everyday on his way home from his workplace for his old mother who lives with him. Maybe he doesn’t like the fact that his mother is dependent on these leaves, it takes a toll on her overall health, but he cannot make himself talk to his mother about it. His mother has led a very simple life, devoid of any kind of luxury. She has been a very devoted and loving  mother, his son loves her as well and wants her to be happy. But as his job doesn’t pay much, this is as close as she gets to being luxurious.
We might never know for sure why the shopkeeper was smiling like that. But there can be so many interpretations and every single interpretation opens up a new door to a new story.
Why do you think he was smiling? Tell me on the comments! Have a great time interpreting expressions and making up stories!

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The Manager

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He sat there all day, with his pen and paper, surrounded by the customers and the cash-memos. The manager of the famous road-side restaurant “Salam Kebab House”, Ahmad left for home each night smelling of burnt meat. He didn’t notice the smell anymore, but his wife, rokaiya, after all these years, still did. She was a petit woman, with the fury similar to the spices they used to make their famous “shik kebab”. People had tears in their eyes from the spices used in making their famous “shik kebab”.
He didn’t want this life for himself. He imagined himself to be a musician, creating music, with his muse, a woman he would call his wife, but would never be able to truly get through the veil of mystery that kind of covered her from everyday monotone.
But he got this life instead, the life of burnt meat. His father, Salam Uddid was as famous for his fury as he was for his kebabs. It is said that one time his pious father literally kicked out a customer from the restaurant because that customer was drunk. When he told his father about his dream of the life of music, people say that Salam Uddin was so mad that his veins were visible on his forehead. Music was strongly prohibited in their religion.
We don’t know what exactly happened next, but after that day Ahmad was never seen anywhere else other than his home and the table of the manager of this restaurant. He learned to conform himself to the rules of this life, married the girl his father chose for him and continued living this life even after it had been 6 years since his father died.
What people don’t say, because they don’t have the necessary knowledge, is that under the cash register, one can find what looks like a regular cheap notebook, that is filled with the lyrics of hundreds of beautiful songs…

To see his little face……I search

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I sit down. Under the shade of a big apartment building, I sit down. Thirst for a glass of water was starting to get to me, but I have been thirsty for years now, for my baby boy’s face, my eyes heat up from not seeing his face for three years. I have a photo of him, but all babies look alike, even if they didn’t, who would have cared enough to set my boy apart? I ask people showing them the picture, but they barely seem to care. I am after all a nobody. My wife tried to make me believe that the “fereshta” (angel of death) took him, but I knew that wasn’t possible. My baby is so strong he can fight lions bare handedly.
But my boy has gone somewhere secret now, somewhere even his father is not allowed to know. But what his baby boy failed to understand was he was the only light in his father’s life. Now that he cannot see him face to face, most of his time is spent shutting his eyes closed. That’s the only way I can watch my baby boy these days.

Ode to the Sun from a Regular Girl

Its not like I cannot find bits of happiness on the face of  winter or the rain ( I actually am genetically wired to like the rain. In our culture, it being an agricultural one, you can easily imagine how important rain is for us)
But Sun! Oh the SUN!!!
The way its rays glorify the earth!
That morning I went into our balcony (without a mug of coffee in my hands, they suit movies better than they suit me) and after it had touched all the objects of upper class of the length (like leaves and tall buildings) it touched me.
Oh, it touched me and my eyes and it went straight into my heart! My heart felt warmer than ever before! I ran and put on the bluest of the dresses I could find in the closet and put that on telling myself, “If there is a day you are going to put this on without any fear, that day is today!”

Why I don’t have any friends in my class

I’ll criticize myself.
My behaviour can in no way be called static these days. Fluctuation is becoming my “thing”. I want to apologise to everybody who is being affected because of my ever changing “mood” and choices.
Its been a whole year and I don’t think I have made a single friend in my class. Friends as in buddies, who I can gossip with, who I will save a seat for. And I like it that way. I want myself friendless.
I love silence. But then again, I love music. i love to shut my eyes and imagine myself elsewhere. But then again, I love my books. I love my hamster ball. But then again, I want to spread peace outside that sphere.
I understand that this kind of behaviour is considered anti-social. And that is why I am criticizing myself and confessing at the same time. I am an out-of-sight out-of-mind type of a person, and this makes it easier to remain an introvert.
it’s not like I don’t have any friends. I do, but all of them are ancient old pals. Like Zeba has been a friend of mine for 18 years now. But we hardly talk anymore. If I am in need of a friend or she is, we’ll call each other up without hesitating a moment.
So here it is, all out in the open. I love the people in my class but this is the reason I never join any groups or be particularly friendly with any specific person.

The Lawyer’s Way

At the end of the day, lawyers are also human beings with their individual ideology and philosophy of life and death, morality and ethics, politics and religion. But what many of the lawyers fail to do is to distinguish between these two lives- one where he is an advocate, a professional and the second one, his personal life that he lives where he approves of certain political policy or religion.  When he is in his place of professional space, all that matters are texts. like Jacques Derrida said, “there is nothing outside of the text.”these words couldn’t be more appropriate for any other profession. Philosophy aside,  lawyers need to observe texts with great care and try not be biased while doing that.

One good example to make things easier for the readers can be the preamble to the Constitution of the people’s republic of Bangladesh. We can find out many questions and then the answers  to the questions just by simply reading the first line of the third paragraph carefully, “Further pledging that it shall be a fundamental aim of the state to realise through the democratic process a socialist society, free of exploitation…” Now, this sentence answers three of the very significant questions and answers. they are as follows-

(a) what is the basic goal of our state? answer: people who don’t study law will probably get very emotional hearing this question. I know a person who wrote a whole poem about this and I am pretty sure you’ve heard it as well. some might say our goal is to become a rich country, another one will probably be a wannabe avenger (I am not joking, these were real answers from real people!). But as lawyers, we are bound to turn on our researcher mode and read the line carefully.What do we see? “a fundamental aim of the state is to realise a socialist society.” There it is, we have our answer now. the basic goal of our state is to found a socialist society.

(b)which kind of socialism will prevail in our state? answer: this is a tricky one. there are many types of socialism- utopian socialism, Fabianism, democratic socialism, evolutionary socialism, etc. Again, individuals may be supporters of any kind of socialism. But an existing law doesn’t ask you what it should be like. , it rather imposes itself upon you. Personal opinions stemming out from history, philosophy, religion, etc, do not matter here. what kind is to operate out socialist country? the text above shows that it is “free from exploitation”. We are to have a socialist society where nobody will be exploited. That makes sense, as the reason why we fought our liberation war was because the Bangladeshis of east Pakistan were severely being exploited by the west Pakistanis. That struggle against them eventually led to a nine month long bloodshed.

(c)How are we to achieve that free from exploitation socialist society? answer: it has been clearly expressed here that it should be gained by a Democratic process. Contrary to popular belief, socialism and democracy can co-exist, they are not necessarily mutually exclusive. Although this type of state are not very common. So, as can be seen from the above discussion, merely one sentence can be interpreted to this about 300 words. That’s why lawyers need to read like a lawyer does, that is emphasising on every single word and interpreting those with an open mind. legal activism is a whole other chapter, maybe we’ll talk about it the next time. A lawyer talks only when he knows what the rules are. He is not a historian, nor a philosopher. Lawyers are a very different kind of strict force that work only when they do not get biased by personal beliefs and opinions.