I grew up in the back lane tin shade colony in Banagram near Narinda of old Dhaka. For me, mere going to school was a big leap, doing well or thinking of continuing beyond high school was not even in my dreams. School was no fun for me also. How would you like to be confined to a place where you are always rebuked and yelled at by your teacher for being the bad backbencher of the class? In addition, not only academically, I was also the social backbencher too. When my friends used to come to school with nice dress, nice shoes and school bag, we had to wear the same dirty shirt, pant, and sandal throughout the year and carry he books in hand. Tell me, how I can be a good student. Who will help me with homework? The 1/1/2 room shanty my auto rickshaw driver father manages to rent, does not enough space for us 5 brothers sisters. So most our day and evening are spent on the streets.
Unlike you or your children, as a kid I experienced all the dark things of an inner city life from a point blank range. So when you hear me invoking all those slang or see me resorting to violence once a while, please don’t be so surprised or horrified. My childhood and my surrounding forced me to be the rough guy.
When young boys and girls at your home debate on humanities or science, I finally drop out of school at class eight. I could not afford it anymore. I needed a place to live as my auto rickshaw driver father could not provide shelter for our growing family anymore.
When you dream of higher or foreign education, my dreams get stuck in my 11/2 room tin shade Narinda shanty. From my ‘eight pass’ shanty life the only dream I am allowed is the dream of improving on my auto rickshaw driver fathers profession by becoming a car driver.
Many of you have money set aside by your dad for your foreign education, many has job ready as the boss of your father’s company and all of you had the opportunity to be born in an educated, cultured, decent environment. Is it my fault that I was born to an illiterate auto rickshaw driver and raised by him in an inner city shanty?
Unfortunately while my reality glides me towards a lowly chauffeur’s life, my passion and my heart constantly agitates me to uphold a bigger cause, a better cause and (why not) a better life? You all must agree that I am within my rights to dream of a better life or I also can dream of better Bangladesh or better governance.
To try to change my star or helping fulfill my dream of a better Bangladesh, I join the political party I support and I work very hard for my party. A political party is the only establishment in the country which will not discriminate (at least in my level) you based on your social status or family wealth. Considering the background I am from, this platform is the only platform where I had the chance of climbing up the ladder from a street urchin to a respected social leader.
Don’t think it as a one sided ambition ad aspiration. My party needs me too. If it wasn’t me who will attend the rallies or who will do elections? Will you? When last you attended a political party rally? Have you ever helped any political party with an election—helped make voter list, man election camp or be a poling agent? Will you ever be or let your son do that? I know you want free fair election as I know you fill those newspaper pages by writing big big columns. You want election but you will not help make it happen, so we have to fill in the vacuum, do all the things mentioned above.
Everybody does things in their own style. You can’t expect your home raised, English medium trained sons and daughters sense and sensibility in me or my shanty friends.
For a country to be a country, to go forward and to have effective governance, it needs a free vibrant political culture. So far me and people of my class did that job for the rest of the nation.
And not only that, when the time came to shed blood, give life for the country, it’s me and many more like me, who did that. You are our Sir. Sirs rarely shed blood or give life for the country.
Sir, you may call me the political thug or the hooligan, but it’s me who make a rally successful, make an election happen and display peoples’ power by our street movements. And don’t forget that, its me who gives life.
A political thug