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Jun 17

And now the city sleeps…

06/13/2011      1 am

 And now the city sleeps. The silent lull is a stark contrast to the events of the day. There is little movement, little sound. Only the constant hum of a generator and the lonely sound of the wind can be heard as I peer out of my sixth story window. The streets are impossibly quiet. Looking out upon this still unchanging scene, one would never guess that just hours ago two bombs had gone off across the street from my hotel.

Back in the lobby, just after the second bomb sounded, people were milling about restlessly. One man in particular caught my attention. He’s coming unhinged, I thought to myself as he laughed too loudly and too often — a knee-jerk reaction to his fear and sense of helplessness. Perhaps this laughter is the ego’s way of reminding him that he is still here, safely removed from the chaos below.

I speak with the staff. We talk about the politically charged atmosphere. “Not to worry, it will all be over tomorrow” I am told countless times, although I haven’t asked for such reassurances. “How do you know this?” I ask. “The government can do nothing. “Nothing for two days. After this, the strike will not be tolerated by government”, it is not an opinion, but a factual statement. A matter of Bangladeshi course. This is the governmental attitude, that of short-lived indulgence toward its people. The people cry out for higher wages and they demand the government restore Grameen to its rightful state with the country’s beloved Dr. Yunus at the helm. Just this week, his official resignation was given. He is ousted, and 8.3 Million families suffer the consequences. Now, the people have two days to bomb the city, riot in the street and shout their outrage. The government will not respond. But at the end of the two days, the people must return to their everyday life. Unheard. And so, no one questions whether the hartal will continue beyond tomorrow night. We all know it will not. And so, they have but two day to speak out, knowing all the while that the government turns a deaf ear.

While violence is not the answer — especially not random bombings –my heart goes out to the unheard masses. I cannot begin to imagine their frustration and pain. The word inequity falls short of the mark.  And so we wait.  For the hartal to end.  For the government to respond.  For life in Dhaka to go on.

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