Dhaka Courier

Sin City Notes: Of mentally ill, beggars and sheuli flowers

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A policeman suffering from mental ailment is beaten to death. This explains our sin city better than all other examples. We beat people to death if we get a chance and happily. Maybe we didn't know that the man being beaten up was a policeman so the blows were hard and quick but otherwise, we love beating up people.

The result is, as many as 10 people have been taken into custody and then into that mythical place called remand land. Hopefully, we shall at least know why a mental patient was beaten to death in a joint called Mental Aid. Health officials are now saying it's not a mental hospital - excuse me? - but what else could it be?

Many enter government hospitals but end up in private joints. Sin city makes money where it can including the hospital sector as per the Regent syndrome. Basically, it's not about patients getting treatment but needing patients to make money. It's simple.

Perhaps the whole mess is a philosophical question that can't be resolved by anyone except when one is remanded. They are then forced to ponder the complex connections between mental health and beating up as a form of a philosophical task. Perhaps that can answer many questions that plague the sin city. Carry on.

Begging in times of Corona

Begging is a serious issue in sin city which has not received enough attention. It becomes even more serious when begging faces a threat due to corona. Nobody has paid attention to the topic as a result of which its under severe threat.

Some of the problems are practical. During corona, many people-, the random low and middle income types- who populate the road are missing because their pockets are. The rich have other places to give and can be contacted only at traffic points but with raised window glasses in stoppages, begging for mercy isn't easy. That is why the retail begging trade has suffered.

People are also in too much of a hurry in the pandemic. The safety of home is more alluring than to respond to a call for mercy or even worse, make some down payments on a seat in heaven. For most, home is where life is in the absolutely applied sense. So how does one ask for a payment if a person is not even looking at the beggar?

Begum, a pro beggar at Gulshan 1 mentioned that in her 40 years of begging she has not encountered such a drought before. "How can people give you money when they can't see you face? If I don't wear a mask, people shout at me for not wearing one. Either way I don't get any money."

As we stood on the footpath and surveyed the crowd passing by there was a familiar and strange sight. People were walking on the pavement but that sense of leisure was not there. They were rushing, going somewhere so not really walking. Many had facemasks though many didn't but every face wore a strain. It was a crowd that hurried, not one that gave to beggars.

In a way, that crowd, almost silent in the evening dark was not from the sin city but somewhere else where death and disease haunts and stalks.

I will wait for my city to return.

Distant sheuli flowers and agacha

There was a post on Facebook which said that near their home past Boscilla, sheuli flowers had sprung and dropped to the ground in a humble salute to earth. My memories were sparked as we grew up in a house with some lawn, where flowers grew on the grounds.

Sheulis are utterly beautiful and dew wet ones make up a morning magic few others flowers can. They even have medicinal value and as kids we were forced to have these bitter tasting flowers dipped in honey to kill stomach worms. With most people living in apartments, they are mercifully saved from this kind of a treatment regime but of course at the price of not getting to touch morning sheuli.

I called up the friend who had posted the news and asked him about the flowers. He said that it's not in his home /house but in one nearby. Then when I asked for a plant he said, "It won't grow in a flower pot. It needs to have the mother earth under it to grow and drop its petals. I am sorry."

Sin city has strange ways to communicate. Flowers clearly don't work for me. In my tiny balcony garden what grows are weeds -agacha- of many kinds, flowers barely survive and most die. In this city like its residents, it's only the toughest that will survive with all the instincts of an agacha. It's their city.

  • Hospital
  • Policeman
  • Mental Aid
  • Mentally Ill

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