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Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Second Soul By Mohammad Shafiqul Islam

The Second Soul

By Mohammad Shafiqul Islam

Alfarabi Hospital is a brutal hospital. Alfarabi Hospital is a horrible hospital. It’s the vicious hospital one can ever see or remind oneself of. The hospital is supposed to be a special hospital for the treatment of children. The child patients are taken here for healing! Alas! The children rarely come back home after convalescence. If they had been able to properly express their feelings, they might have said, “We want to die a safer death than to be dreadfully slaughtered by these 21st century monstrous physicians”.

Sometimes it seems the physicians are not born humans. They are born killers. They kill humans. They murder the innocent. They get paid for bloodbath. Diseases are natural; medical science is for curing the ailments. But some people studying medical science are identified as doctors who, though included among the human species, are better to be named butchers.

The physicians are the great and precious resources for any country. They can play a great role in adding towards the progress of a nation. These very people contribute at the great danger of a state. The doctors in 1971 helped, with their best exertion, free Bangladesh from the clutch of the heinous collaborators.

The vultures had longed for ripping Bangladesh and cherished Bengali into pieces with their honing claws. Mothers, sisters, children could not escape their elongated dodgy abuses by the vultures. Fathers, brothers could not save their siblings, nears and dears, let alone themselves from the venomous belligerence.

Most of the physicians except the masked quislings did up to their last efforts to liberate the combination of red and green. The good people have hard times when the others notorious for destroying harmony are in power and the power shows. Some good people at that time had also struggled much. But none in Bangladesh can forget those who came forward to rescuing the country through their services of treating the injured and ill, the helpless and hapless.

The most important quality in a doctor must be good behavior, sound etiquette, and polite approach to the patients. It is a mystery; it is puzzling why the doctors (!) act up with the patients and people around them. Education builds a man as the best human being on earth. Again it is bewildering which type of education makes the beast in humans. But it is incontrovertible that good doctors are the great assets for a country.

Shajed’s niece had her apple of eye, her only son aged about one and a half year. There was the blend of charming, chubby, holy features in Tanvir. God gifted him to the parents who achieved the life’s strongest solace. Many women give birth to a number of children though they do not expect such all the time. Sometimes these women can not provide their children with the basic needs they require to live a trouble-free life. Tanvir’s mother had longed for an issue like him for long and God poured blessings upon them. It seemed the lamp was lit with more glittering shades in the house when Tanvir stepped on earth. Everything was running smoothly. The breeze blew around the house, the leaves rustled musically with the heavenly motion of Tanvir. The birds twittered cheeringly; the grass around the house danced in debonair delight.

Man proposes but God disposes. The apple of eye of the whole family suddenly became ill, caught cold. The greens in leaves started fading; the chirping of the birds got stuck. The primary notions were not so perilous at all. The local physicians treated as they usually do and succeed to bring smiles to both the patients and their family members. Only in case of Tanvir they could not come out successful and so all smiles of Amina and Shahidul stopped very pathetically, in a chap fire way.

One of the MBBS doctors posted at Sakhipur, at the upazila level, was entrusted with the steadfastness of restoring Tanvir to health, to life. He began to give medical service to the cute baby but who knows it was medieval treatment. Maybe he callously treated or maybe he could not mark the symptoms of ailment well or maybe he did not learn how to alleviate diseases as a doctor. However, the time the baby was under his treatment was not showing any progress rather the illness was augmenting to the more sinister state. The dark clouds were amassing in the blue horizon.

When the situation was turning more critical, Tanvir’s parents were advised to see city doctors, more efficient and specialist (!). Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh, is considered the centre of many things which are not available in other places of the country. Dhaka is known for many other features too: it is called the densely populated city, the city of rickshaws, the city of mosquitoes, the city of corrupt politicians and terrorists, the city of traffic jam, and many more, and what not. It might be a novel addition: Dhaka is the city of cruel doctors!

Tanvir was hospitalized in this notable capital of Bangladesh. Alfarabi Hospital is situated in the Dhanmondi area of Dhaka. A doctor and his wife, another doctor too, are the proprietors of the hospital. “Your son will come round here soon”. Tanvir’s parents were given a strong assertion on better treatment of their dearest son in the hospital and curing him to the fullest. They were convinced; the clouds were turning away, far away from the heartland. Amina started dreaming his son’s waltz at the house.

The hospital was costlier than the costliest. The family of Tanvir being from the rural area of Bangladesh was of middle class type. The days were elapsing with strongest tension among Amina and Shahidul with hope for the complete upturn of their adorable son. They were spending their last wherewithal even only with the optimism that Tanvir would come round, talk, run, play and call ‘ammu, abbu’, fill the air with music. Their Tanvir should be with them even at the cost of all properties, everything…

Amina is Shajed’s affectionate niece who he had cared and loved much since her childhood. She is a different type of human on earth: very simple, innocent, smiling and contented. She is happy on earth with whatever she gets, with whatever she has; she is the luckiest with the most precious wealth Tanvir. Shajed never saw her be on the blink. Kind-heartedness in her is incomparable. She is sympathetic with the ones in distress.

When Shajed heard Amina was suffering, physically as well as psychologically, with her only dear son on the hospital bed, he could not help visiting Alfarabi. He had to make a long journey, from Sylhet to Dhaka, to meet his loving niece and see her Tanvir. The journey by bus, the journey by train in Bangladesh is another dimension of horrible experience. One just thinks about visiting somewhere, it doesn’t matter how important the visit would be, and starts feeling anxious, prepares for hassle, gets set for leaving some important hours from life – traffic jam, unnecessary stoppage and many more…

Sylhet is the divisional city in Bangladesh which is famous for tea estates and holy shrines. The greeneries made the city very spectacular. If a new comer visits tea gardens in the afternoon, he or she will have celestial feel and touch. The city is surrounded by one petal and two leaves. Locations might have inspired William Wordsworth more strappingly to compose wonderful verse lines on the theme of nature. Dorothy would have been his great company enthusing for another “To Daffodils” or ‘To Tea’ or ‘To Two Leaves’. He could add to his rapture “the bliss of solitude”.

Just entering the cabin, Shajed looked at the baby, chubby and flabby. He heard the babies are innocent, he saw the babies are angelic. They don’t have any sins; they are as white as the snow. He heard from grandmothers that angels are always with them. Seeing Tanvir on the bed, he could recollect his grandmother who always reminded him of loving the children and behaving with them well and charily for their blessed life. God always sides with the children. God always specially looks at the children.

“I could not help shedding tears”, said Shajed. “Amina was howling in cry. The little baby was gazing at me. He fixed his eyes at me and continued eyeing at me uninterruptedly. How cute, how sweet, how wholesome, how blissful that look! He was struggling to tell me he wanted freedom from that bed, from the clutch of butchery, undoubtedly the hell bed for him. Undoubtedly the hellish time he was spending there. His heart was throbbing; he was trying to move but could not as he was tied with many plastic lines of saline and other things. His whole head was covered with gauze; his nose was bound in pipes. It could have been unbelievable to even me if I had not seen the scene. It was intolerable indeed to see the pains of the baby!” Shajed told in the saddest condition of his mind.

Whenever the doctors entered the cabin, Tanvir started trembling. His about whole body was split with needles in the name of injection with pretext, perhaps, of blood test and so on, so on. The doctors have some paralinguistic terms the patients can never know about them. Hieroglyphic words and phrases they use. Now Amina sometimes talks about the way Tanvir suffered and so falls in coma. Her life in the present time is indefinable. She lost her jolly movement, smiling face, cheerful conversation and all fun of life. She is aggrieved upon everyone on earth that she could not even suckle her other soul before it’s too late.
It was another miracle how Amina was alive in that condition, inside that sickbay. She didn’t have any nap let alone sleep in her eyes for about ten days in the hospital. About ten days in an inferno. The more-than-one-can-bear sufferings were telling upon her health, her psyche, her thoughts. Her eyes were entering deep into the hole. Shajed only stayed a day and a night because he had to return to Sylhet to discharge his duties in the job location.

“Tanvir is improving; he looks better today”, was the news next day to Shajed. He got the news over the mobile phone through his nephew. He cannot express how happy he was then. He could only decipher the return of smiles in his niece’s face, the return of life to Amina. Shajed’s happiness didn’t last long. All of a sudden a beautiful flower from a beautiful tree fell down. The flower cruelly wilted! All glee on earth, all joys in the world suddenly stopped together. The cooing dove got wedged in fibers. Tanvir closed his eyes eternally and so the limes of Amina’s life withered forever.

Mohammad Shafiqul Islam received his BA Honors and MA in English at the University of Chittagong in Bangladesh. A PhD fellow, currently he is teaching as Assistant Professor in the Department of English at Shahjalal University of Science and Technology, Sylhet, Bangladesh. He enjoys teaching, reading and writing. He writes poetry, fiction, non-fiction and research articles. Music, travel, childhood memory, fine humor – these are a few of his favorite things. His poetry appeared in SNReview, Flutter Poetry Journal, Right Hand Pointing, The Subterranean and translation in Bengal Lights. He occasionally contributes to The Daily Star, The Independent, and leading English newspapers in Bangladesh. He is currently involved in translating celebrated Bengali writings into English. He dreams to see a world sans war, terrorism and poverty.

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1 comment:

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