Touch of Atheism: am I a Loser?! (5)

1996: I got in class four; it was the first time I got the placement of roll number by competing in examination. I became fifth among around 50 students. From that time I was viewed as a relatively good student and boy of a rich family, in terms of our village economy. My father bought me a football, it was too exciting for me; all of my friends and class mates liked me a lot for playing my football. Mutalib, Jowel, Muktar, Sharif, Tajul, Habib, Sumon, Sabbir, Giasuddin and Nurullah were my class mates- they all were from Bainogor; from our village ashraf was my only class mate- he is from Boro Barhi. From our ‘Bari’—Aman, Didar, Billal and Faroque were/are my closest friends; I did not know about our whole village, I was familiar with only our Bari and Boro Bari; that was my world.
Me and my buddies used to playing different types of village games like- Kanamasi, Bouchi, Daribanda, Ha-du-du, Gullachut and swimming in the pond and in the field of crops-when it gets flooded in the rainy season. All of my friends liked and obeyed me a lot, so that they can have the chance to watch television; especially in Friday, when Bengali cinema was televised at 3 pm and ‘Alif Laila’ was televised at 8.45 pm. I didn’t like watching television that much, since television was in our house; but I crazy of watching ‘Alif Laila’. Not only me, that time, all people, kids to oldest, all were crazy of watching ‘Alif Laila’. That time I did not know that ‘Alif Laila’ is just a television drama based on Arabian novel ‘Alif Laila’- means ‘thousand nights’, made by India and dubbed by Bangladesh television from Hindi to Bengali. I thought ‘Alif Laila’ is very real; it surprised me a lot thinking that how those characters come into the television; I did know how television works. In ‘alif laila’ on the episode of ‘Sindabad’- it was shown that Sindabad is a very pious sailor, who has spiritual power, who has a sword of super power by what he can kill all the evil characters of Jinn and monsters.
Each and every Friday, at evening and at night around 100 people used to coming in our house to watch television; we could not accommodate more than 30 people. It was job of Rob vai to select that who would get the chance to watch television and who would not. To maintain that leadership, Rob vai used to helping my parents in different daily deeds, like- in cultivation, taking bushels of paddy to rice-mill, shopping of daily glossary and so forth. Not only Rob vai, there were so many others those were very willing to help my parents, just to have the privilege of watching television.
Once in month, Rob vai used to collecting a fee from all the teen agers of our Bari, those who could not give money had to give some rice; then Rob vai used to selling the rice –with that money he used renting a V.C.R from Eliatgong Baza to watch new Bengali cinemas. Rob vai was crazy of watching new Bengali cinema in cinema hall; cinema hall is located at Daudkandi (Daudkandi is our sub-district, about 15 miles away from our village), so all others teen agers or below thirties could not effort or manage to go to Daudkandi to watch Bengali cinema in cinema hall; so all were highly interested about hiring a V.C.R. Hiring V.C.R was very secret issue, watching television is a sin, watching V.C.R or cinema in cinema hall was considered as a social crime; there were so many other taboos in our village. Rob vai told us not to tell anyone else about V.C.R except those who gave fee or rice; it was never possible to keep secret about V.C.R. When we had been watching cinema, there were around 100 folks used to gathering in our yard and making noise and chaos. At late night, Rob vai’s father Jabbar Jeda (Jeda means eldest uncle) and Billal’s father Jamir Hossian vai used to coming with cane of bamboo saying that—‘all should be punished, all should be kicked off from the society, all are the followers of Satan; they are making our Bari as a house of Satan and so many other colloquial speech that I can’t make English. In the main time Rob vai used to running away keeping the V.C.R. with him. Rob vai’s father Jabbar Jeda was very pious man, he used saying the Azan (calling for prayer) five times a day in our mosque. I did not understand that how come a pious man says so many nasty slangs. He was pious but not educated. Normally, those who are pious and somewhat educated don’t like to say colloquial speech. Billal’s father Jamir Hossain vai was or is the guardian of our Bari.
That year, my eldest paternal uncle Abdul Latif Bhuiya ( we called him ‘Boro Jeda’- I mean eldest uncle) came back to our Bari with his family; before that he used to living different district of Bangladesh, since he was a government service holder, he was a police man; this year he got retirement so he came back to our village. Coming back of my uncle was very exciting for me, he loved me so much.
A beautiful girl used to coming in our house at evening from Bainogor to read English under the tutorship of Miza sir. I thought no girl can be more beautiful than her; she was a student of class ten, her name is Rita. Every evening, me and my friends Aman, Didar, Billal and Faroque used to waiting to see her for a while; though, we all were kids!
At about the end of the year Mizan sir left our house, because he resigned from our high school; he was not having his salary properly- the high school was very new, there were no enough government facilities; the school was almost complete based on the fees of students and some donation of founder.
1997: I got in class five. I didn’t make good results in the final examination of class four, since our house tutor left our house 2 months before my final exam, so I didn’t study much. I became 11th among all the students. I had to go to Abdullah sir to study English and other subjects. Abdullah sir was a English teacher of our high school. He was a house master of Rashid vai’s family. Rashid vai also was/is a rich man in our Bari- in terms of village economy, he earned handsome amount of money, since he was an army person. He was sent to Kuwait by Bangladesh Arm Force, when Iraq- Kuwait war took place in 1990; from there he earned bulk some amount of money. He was cooker of Army since he was uneducated person. He could buy a television but he didn’t, because he is a Hajji- I mean he completed his Hajj from Saudi-Arab, since it was Foroz (compulsory) for him as a financially solvent Muslim. It was ritual in our village that Hajji can’t watch television; Hajji shouldn’t have fascination of mundane life; he just should think about eternity life; but Rashid vai and his family members used to watching television in our house.
I can remember the first lesson of my English book in class Five was about “Jihad & Rana". I read “Jahid is a very good boy. He gets up early in the morning, and then he brushes his teeth and washes his hand and mouth. He says his prayers timely & regularly. He respects his parents, teachers & elders. He makes his lesson done & goes to school regularly. At the evening Jahid plays with his friends. On the other hand, Rana isn’t a good boy; he gets up late in the morning, he always gets dirty and neither has he studied regularly nor he goes to school regularly- he is definitely a bad boy. That year, in 7th April my younger brother was born- I named him ‘Jahid Hasan’. My eldest sister Yesmin also liked that name so much; because in that time, a TV actor ‘Jahid Hasan’ was very famous, he is still a famous TV celebrity of Bangladesh.
My elder sister Shilpi did not read in class five, she escaped studying class five, and she got admitted in class six without reading in class five, though she was not a good student. Her education was not that much important to my mom, her education is needed only to give her a good marriage. My education was very important to my parents since I am a boy.
My mom believed or still believes in both—shamanic healing treatment and medical treatment. When any of us—my sister, brother or me got sick, my mom used to calling a shaman, whom we call ‘Dadu’(grandpa)- his name is Idrish Fakir. Dadu is now about 100+ years old, I hope he will live at least for 2 or 3 years more. Once he was a marijuana smoker, he quitted it after completing his Hajj; he used smoke marijuana with my eldest uncle (Boro Jeda) and with Jahangir vai. Smoking marijuana is haram (forbidden) in Islam, but they had their own definition for smoking dope. Dadu was not our blood related grandpa, but we felt him very close of our family. Though Dadu was a Kabiraj (shaman), but he used to referring my mom about medical treatment for us; may be, it was because of that he knew that shamanic treatment is bluff. So my mom used calling a village doctor too. It was very awesome for me, when any of us got sick in the rainy season, because then my mom used to hiring a boat that had a hood—made of bamboo, to go to Gouripur. There was a famous doctor in Gouripur—named Mr. Shawkot; he is a big doctor—MBBS doctor from Dhaka. He just prescribed the medicine and he was given a big amount of money as a prescription fee; village doctor are not given any fees for prescription, they just charged the cost of medicine with little some profit. On the returning back from Gouripur, on the journey of boat, my mom used to saying—you see Babu, how a big doctor Mr. Shawkot is and how pious he is—he does not visit or prescribe the patients when it is time of saying prayer, he says his prayer timely and regularly. Babu, you have to be a big doctor, so you have to be very pious and pure devotee to Allah, because Allah can do everything, He writes our future and He is the ultimate provider of everything—said my mom. My mom used to carrying some Ruti and vegetables- cooked by her; we used eating our launch into the boat. The sound of floating boat on water was awesome—the scenario was incredible; from the boat all the villages were looked like green-ship floating on river.
I was or I am very much fond of petting animals. In our Bari, we had a dog—named Nensu; I and my friends’ together nurtured it. Some guardians of our Bari did not like to allow petting dog; dog is very unholy and impure animal—where there is dog, Feresta (angels) don’t come there—assured by Quran and hadiths. Anyways, they did not bother much; they accepted Nensu, when they noticed that Nensu is working like a night-gourd of our Bari. My mom used petting some hens and ducks. I told my dad to buy me some pairs of pigeons; my dad bought me two pairs of pigeons, later on I had ten pairs of pigeons. Once I and Billal brought two chicks of parrot from top of a coconut tree from Boro Bari, they could not open their eyes; I took one and Billal took another. I used to feeding it banana by a syringe. I was able to keep it alive, but Billal could not. I named my parrot—Titu. When Titu grew up, I called—Titu come here; Titu used to coming to me and sit on my shoulder. It was very sad and shocking for me that I had to sell my parrot because of my mom’s uproar and pressure. Parrot doesn’t give any return as hens and ducks, moreover, it consumes foods and makes the house dirty; you should not pet it—said my mom. One day I sold my parrot only for 50 taka to a boy—named Yousuf; he was from Bainogor, he could not keep it alive for a single day, he cut its feathers so that it could not fly; a wild cat attacked and bitted it ferociously—Titu died. I cried a lot hearing that news.