The Art of “getting used to”


Ishtiaque Hossain

As a journalist I worked an easygoing job, with a relaxed schedule. My job had only one requirement, to meet a deadline every Wednesday. Submit a story between 800-1200 words each week, and you’re scot free. It didn’t even have to be good, it just needed to be coherent. And I got used to it. To writing dispassionately. To being coherent.

Every Tuesday, I sat myself down and made a 800 word baby on things I never really cared about. Failing healthcare system? Meh. Unprivileged children with no food and education? Done to death. 6 homicides in 3 days? That’s like the fourth murder spree this year, and it’s not even  past February.

I digress. The point I was trying to make is, I have never cared much about anything. Not about journalism, not about writing; and most definitely not about creating a better future for my children. I don’t like children, and to be honest; I don’t plan on having any. What kind of a moron would even conceive of conceiving, in the times we live in? It doesn’t make any sense. The world has gone to feces (I’m not allowed to use the S word anymore), and there are no signs of it getting better anytime soon.

Growing up in Purana Paltan, the most politically volatile area in Bangladesh; I have grown used to violence over the years. Headless bodies were turning up in the streets when I was barely 9 years old. I saw my first decapitated carcass when I was 10. And I didn’t flinch one bit. Guns and cocktails were always going off, but hell; no one I ever knew personally ever got shot. So I figured bad things only happened to “other people”. And therefore, I grew indifferent to the senseless violence around me. I simply got used to it.

For me, life has always been about getting used to things. No electricity for hours? No problem. Journalist couple murdered in their own homes? Ah give it a few weeks, people will forget all about it. People have way too many things on their minds to dwell on such sordid affairs for too long. Miley Cyrus’s hammer-licking shenanigans to Khaleda Zia’s dubstep remix. Beyonce’s newest unflattering photograph or the latest sex-scandal of a budding starlet. An 80-something former dictator publicly threatening suicide or Ananta Jalil film festival at Cineplex. Way too many things to process and digest at the same time. Can you really blame the average person for not yammering over grizzly homicides that happened several months ago? There are fresh new murders, scandals and tales of corruption to whine about this week. And the social media is not kind to those who dwell on the past!

But despite all my cynicism, I have to admit that there are some things which never go out of fashion. Words of wisdom from asinine politicians.

A few of my favorites include,

“Our stock market is acting very naughty; it needs medicine.”
“We must control our eagerness to eat. ”
“The pillars of Rana Plaza building were being shaken  by activists of the opposition, a process which accelerated the collapse.”

Loss of lives numbering in the thousands? Funny joke!
Increasingly unaffordable prices of daily essentials? Control your appetite you gluttons!
Lost your life savings in the share market? Tough luck buddy, the DSE is a cruel, unpredictable and naughty mistress!

Are you trying to make sense how an entire nation can go about their daily lives amidst such random chaos and horrific conditions? Don’t. There’s no explanation, nor any limit to what Bangladeshis can get used to. There could be an all out war tomorrow between BAL-BNP-SHIBIR involving tanks, assault rifles and long range projectiles capped with deadly explosives. Doesn’t make a difference. An average Bangladeshi will still wake up in the morning, stretch languorously  and make his way to work, dodging a bullet or two along the way. Sometimes literally.

Because all it takes, is a little “getting used to”. And Bangladeshis can get used to pretty much anything.

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