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Otondro Prohori

Otondro Prohori

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Published by mohaiemen
Originally installed at Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy, 2009.

Reprinted in Sarai journal, Delhi.
Originally installed at Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy, 2009.

Reprinted in Sarai journal, Delhi.

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Published by: mohaiemen on Mar 04, 2014
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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06/05/2014

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Otondro Prohori, Guarding Who, Against What
aeem oaemenOf all things written about the regime, put-downs were always in Bengali. English was for semnar a.A former writer, exiled in London, wrote in Samakal:
All right then, let us accept the fiction o te aretaer. o we ave een gte an army-cvan yr, cang tse aretaer Government.” But we always know a caretaker to be a darwan. But here you come back, after an evening dinner, to your own house, and your darwan won’t let you in.
Later, after the military had left, really left, and not willingly, I looked back on those two years 06-07. It was easy to map so many of us, silenced so quickly. With a minimum of action, only a hint of menace. At the beginning, it was probably quite confusing, right? For you? For me too. The army was feared, but the democracy that came before was chaos, battles, musical chairs. Maybe there was a secret sigh of relief at the disruption of politics..aer, aer e oom wore o, y mon ree appene qucy, e e ragmens o dissent started trickling out. Essays, letters, rumors, chika slogans, whispers, rumblings.In the middle of nowhere. Rumi Ahmed’s blog published The Darkness. A squadron of police marching up the steps of Public Library to enforce the new law, that all lights had to be out by eight. To save electricity. The Metallica song on my infernal soundtrack.roxy aes were sage, no agans a, u perceve aes. ur aureae came o speak on campus, and was met by groups of students blocking his entrance. How dare he row s name no e eecon rng urng an army ace governmen.
a
 e noe Nobelist was in for a surprise. In Europe, he was on a panel with Bob Geldof, Angela Merkel, and here, people were calling him jolpai dalal. Jolpai the color of the army uniform, swiped over m, s rame.ssen grew n graua ayers, over e mons, an aways w couner-reacons. yscs. A brutal grinding of links. The death of Choles Ritchil. The torture of journalist Akash. The midnight arrest of CNN stringer Tasneem Khalil. aar oan came over o my ouse, o a ace o ace, o e me asneems oy was black and blue.
He lifted his shirt to show me. You see why I’m not using the phone any more? 
Thanks a lot Zafar, you also called me the night of his arrest. Woke my father up in the middle of the night. Hope they’re not tapping your phone.
 
 a aso seen asnm, e mornng aer s arres. ogs were reposng urgen appeas, petitions were gearing up, Embassy Row was calling intelligence contacts. But wait, there was asneem. on my gca wnow.<Idle> flashed his status. <Idle>Hey are you out...where are you... I typed. A rather long silence. And then the chat window logged out.Oh dear, who have I just written to? course e a gven up s passwor. ou wou o e same. up o e rave.omeng aou a arres soo our mcro-crces. c o sence. ess an ess exng, fewer phone calls, everything migrated to email. A professor called and asked me over one evenng.
ecnca avce age re.
e scusse secury measures. ang acups an deleting files. Renaming folders. Her partner had bought a fingerprint-activated pen drive. That was a bit much, I couldn’t figure out how to make it work.Tasneem’s computer and laptop had been the torturer’s honeypot, we all learnt a lesson. The “Caretaker Government” took over Bangladesh from the politicians on January 11, 2007. . nce, py, numerca ag or regme cange. n ugus o a year, e sencng wore smooy. en one aernoon, a g roe ou on the univerity campus. The army had requisitioned the university gym since January. One of the key flashpoints. Now three jawans were watching a football match. Someone’s umbrella was blocking their view. The solder shouted,
oi shora!
The umbrella would not move. Maybe it was his lover he was shielding from sun. The soldiers moved closer. Suddenly, students also started paying attention. One or two of them stood up. Looking over, curious. Idle hands loosely out of pockets. Thonga of nuts dropped to the ground. Sandals back on feet. A push, a shove.
Tora janish amra ke 
, do you know who we are. I heard the dialogue repeated later. But who said it. Soldier or Student.The soldiers went back to find their comrades, in the gym. The students went back as we. eween emporary arrac an ormory, e numers were sueny agans e army. By night, burning barrels littered the campus. Riot police blitzed the air. The soldiers were barricaded inside the gym. At midnight a senior officer went on TV and said it was an “unfortunate incident”. ex ay, e army wrew rom campus. e cy smee oo, ros are on a campuses, Chittagong Rajshahi and back to Dhaka. Fighting spread to the shops. Now students were joined y
oa
. e nvnce oec mees e...As groups gathered, courage was in numbers. Closed off spaces opened wide. A quiet building to eat muri chira now hosted coded gestures. I was happy to plough through any newly open door.
Jodi laiga jai.
 
 e o gasnos, u a an rmy remans o ms.Recently a newspaper editor told me: I need to put an affiliation in your byline.- But I have no affiliation.- nee o pu an organzaon- Why? This is my personal view, not from an organization.- Still needs an organization.- But then it will seem like organization is endorsing this.- Are they?- No. So, why give it.- ecause sen, ey ca, nee o e ae o eny e wrer. n you nee an aaon for that.- You would hand over the author’s information, like that?- a, wy are you guayng. o one s anng anyng over. ey w us wan o reac you. To invite you over. For a cup of tea and a chat.

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