Mahfuz Anam’s recent editorial, The Sons are Coming, makes for interesting reading. I advise readers to then go back and read a pair of his columns from 2007: How could BNP come to this stage?, written after the arrest of Tarique Rahman on March 9, 2007, and The mandate that Khaleda Zia Wasted, that ran on September 4, 2007, the day after Khaleda Zia was arrested.

Browsing through Daily Star in 2007 is like watching a super-sad movie: you know how all this is going to end, but you cannot help but be touched by the optimism in the middle. An article on the National Coordination Committee, written by the breathless Julfiqar Ali Manik (as a part of his competition with Zafar Sobhan to see who could make grander pronouncements about the all-encompassing success of the CTG), nicely illustrates the point. It would have “ultra-crime bust forces” and a “mighty committee.” It would “be at the helm of all major hunts for corruption and criminal suspects.” It “will not rest on filing of cases but follow those up till the disposal by keeping constant contacts and communications with relevant authorities.” In fact, short of wearing leotards and flying through the sky, it would virtually have no other limitations.

Newt Gingrich apparently shut down the US government because Bill Clinton did not invite him to the presidential cabin while taking a trip in Air Force One. Did Mahfuz Anam support a coup because he was “teased” (Mr. Anam’s words, not mine) by TR?

Whatever the reason, there is no way of denying the strong effect that Tarique Rahman seems to have on Mr. Anam. Witness the verbal jujitsu that Mr. Anam engages in to paint Tarique Rahman as a dastardly, black-hearted villain. He made Khaleda Zia attend Hawa Bhaban rather than the BNP Office! Because of him, BNP had “total centralised power” but also “multiple centres of power!” Grave crimes indeed.

The presence of an energy that is both supremely beneficial but at the same time frighteningly harmful is one of the common themes in modern fiction. There is the Force in Star Wars, the Ring in the Lord of the Rings-verse, and the One Power in the Wheel of Time series. The sons that Mr. Anam berates are, in his mind, using their power the wrong way. They should learn from the individuals who use this power the right way. Like, for example, the author who has won one discontinued literary prize and still appears in the pages of the Daily Star 149 times (by comparison, poor Hilary Mantel, the first woman to win the Booker twice, gets only 18 mentions), Or that other son, who got a loan of fifty lakhs in 1974 (worth about five hundred crores in 2013) with zero collateral- only because the bank MD who lent him the money knew his dad.  

Now these are the sons and daughters Mahfuz Anam can approve of and be proud of. Why couldn’t Tarique and Joy be more like them?