Saturday, September 30th, 2023
Of grave desecration, pot-holed roads and three masks
September 26th, 2020 at 7:55 pm
Of grave desecration, pot-holed roads and three masks

by Nadeem Qadir in northern Bangladesh;-

At age 60, the body’s structure is fragile. Yet, some old habits die hard. One of them is travelling anywhere to get a break from the monotony of mundane regular life, especially with people wearing THREE masks.

Call it a travel to break the monotony of life or to take care of a personal matter or to write a feature — I woke up last Wednesday to find nothing was new. It was even worse than any other previous days this month.

An early morning (10 am) telephone call by a weeping caretaker of my mother’s grave at the Army Graveyard. I could not imagine why he was crying and it was his first call in years.

“Why are you crying?” I asked with a somewhat panicked state of mind. My heart beating fast in fear of some bad news — after all it is from the graveyard where my darling mother is in eternal rest. My mother’s elder brother, his wife and so many of our family friends are in final rest in this well-kept place maintained by the Dhaka Cantonment Board.

The young man, fumbled “Sir, Khalamma’s (aunty) grave has been desecrated … the plant you got from abroad and I took care for the last three years has been chopped off .”

I did not know whether to scream in anger or curse the person who could chop off such a beautiful plant in full bloom taking a shape of a flowery umbrella over the grave. My dream had come true and on Tuesday night I prayed standing in front of the grave or in front of my mother sharing so many thoughts with her. That is my place of love and solace.

I rushed out to the graveyard and burst into tears.

Chopped off plants

Who could be so cruel? Fingers were pointed, which I strongly agreed with, was a gardener employed by the Cantonment Board. Not only that, there was an attempt to steal the plant by uprooting but he failed. Yes, he failed because an angel woman sleeps there and Allah did not allow him to do that.

Yes, it is indeed discretion of the grave and I promised to leave no stone unturned to bring the culprit to justice. I summoned the Board Supervisor in charge of the “so-called” cleaning operation and that particular mali (gardener), no, a butcher. A mali can’t chop of a beautiful flowering plant.

His words gave him away as quizzed him. He said “I looked in all the plant nurseries but could not find a sapling of this plant and he has not seen one anywhere.” He stood with a large clipping scissor for hedges, but did not have the saw he was armed with the day he allegedly desecrated the grave.

This means he wanted the plant and thus tried to steal it, while he left the saw behind as the chopping appeared to have been done by a saw. He himself said it was cut off by a saw.

I told my courageous mother “Sorry, even in death there is no peace.”

Please join me in prayers that she sleeps happily despite the desecration incident and that justice is done.

Damaged road

As usual, procedures are to be followed to bring an end to any such future incident and bring to justice the one who is responsible for the crime, which is punishable under Bangladesh’s penal code.

Setting out of Dhaka with a heavy heart, but in hopes that would life my mood, got even worse.

The pot-holed roads from Bogura to the northern districts made life miserable. At 60, the body is now in pain and work has to wait.

Year after year, it is repaired and when comes monsoon – pot-holes and broken roads are back.

Thank God those made recently until one reaches Bogura are a pleasant ride and those to Chattogram or Mymensingh are wonderful for long drives. The Mawa Expressway stands out.


Hopefully, such tears and pain of grave desecration and bumpy roads will never ever happen again.

It is all theft that is to be blamed, and we must give exemplary punishment to the grave digger and those who cheat people by not doing the road work correctly making our lives miserable.

Oh! Three masks of Bengalis — one is what they portray openly and the other is what hold behind that smiling face. And the third is of course the mask we have been putting to save us from getting infected by COVID-19.

Nadeem Qadir is a senior Bangladeshi journalist and a Dag Hammarskjöld fellow,-