Boring times of happenings and not-happenings

An Extract from “He Who Summoned the Magpie Robin” by Nirjhor Barua
Soon afterwards he came back and waited for about a year to get admitted into the University of Dacca. His mother was quite shocked when he expressed his intention to study in Dacca. She had all the reasons to be taken aback. She thought: who in their right mind wants to stay in East Pakistan? She considered sending her son back to the UK, the glorious land of the Queen. He is and was after all ‘British-born’ and that the Universities were far better, it was exactly what she said, universities were far better. He was even bright enough to make it Cambridge if he tried, his mother thought, if some rich Tom, dick and Harry can study in Cambridge, my little son can too. She even commented on the easiness for him to get into a Red-Brick one. To which his reply was: Mother, I do not feel like living in England, not for me, no. That cold, cloudy, ten-tons-of-frozen-hell, no, I’ll gladly reject. Its better I boil here.

She gave up, it was no use toiling over that issue, her young man had been stubborn as a Macadamia nut, very hard to crack open and make do. She suspected a case of lost love and heartbreak. Maybe Kaiser had a foreign girl, a ‘non-brown’ one maybe as per the trend, who probably had left him and had shunned the thought of England for him. Like father like son, running after the skirted women, served him right, she thought. From then on he prepared and sat for the entrance examination, and he got admitted into the Department of Physics. Then one day he discovered that in the halls of residences, his roommate was going to be this boy from Chittagong called Mohammed Azeezur Kareem.

The year of nineteen-sixty nine was a very important one. Lots of things happened: Mass uprising as a result of the Agartala Conspiracy case and the fall of the Ayub regime, were few of the prime ones. Another thing that happened which fascinated Kaiser the most was: Apollo 11 landing on the moon. It was more fascinating to him when the crew of Apollo 11 came to Dacca in October and paraded through the street on their open-hooded convertible. He would not have missed it for anything. An enthusiastic crowd surrounded them, for a glimpse at history, as they rode around the streets starting from Tenjgoan Airport. The general mass had witnessed the moment of the landing before on the limited number television sets as the state-run television station ran tapes of the moon landing for the whole country to see. Some clerics had been ‘sceptic’ about the whole thing. Some fatwas were issued as a result. Apparently, the Americans had done the hoax purposely, they said. Although, with the cold war being at an all-time high, Russians had not uttered anything even close to what the mullahs had.

Still much to his disliking and his disappointment of coming back enthusiastically, East Bengal was going through a dry spell. It was not the happening place now, Avant-garde culture was absent. The Hungry Bulletin or the Hungry Movement of the mid sixties that created so much controversy on the other side of the border in West Bengal of India created nothing as such here. So close, yet so far. No Malak Roy Chowdhurys or Shakti Chatterijees emerged here. No one was trying on new things; no one was picking on the establishment in all its ‘fun’. There were no ‘Stark Electric Jesus’ to create controversy, no suit in the Court of Law following it, banning it. Sick! Perverted! Obscene! Ban these Motherfuckers! Stick it to them! No, no one was shouting those words. Sex? No one publicly spoke of sex, it was taboo. Only small scenes popped up, somewhat away from public eye, private music shows and poetry within closed circles. Beat poets and ‘Hungry’s of the west stayed there and never much crossed the border. Kaiser Afzal desired some change, some sweet creation to ‘Blow the damn Mind’, so as to speak.

************************************************************************************* 19/04/2013



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