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Periscope 3-My Column in Ice Today

Periscope 3-My Column in Ice Today

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Published by Masud Khan Shujon

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Published by: Masud Khan Shujon on Sep 14, 2010
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09/13/2010

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Periscope ThirstImagine this. You are alone; your lips and throat parched with thirst, your skinseared by the desert sun, your stomach juices acrid with hunger andyour soul mutilated with despair and loss of hope. This is how youfelt even before the Nigerian goondas hired by your employer tookyou and your friends, the 30 or so Bangalis, out of your shed toteach you a lesson. This is how felt even before the hired thugsbroke your arm, even before you were denied medical care at theclinic because you did not have the money to pay for care. This ishow you have felt ever since you came to Libya nine months ago,when you first realized that your employer had no intention of upholding its end of the bargain, of paying you the promised salary,or feeding you or giving you shelter.Imagine this. You are a farmer from a village in Faridpur. You have a little landthat you till; during the good years, when the monsoons come ontime and the seasonal storms do not destroy everything in theirpath, when the rivers do not overflow and flood your lands, andwhen the crops paint the land golden, you have enough to feed yourwife and son, sometimes even enough to sell some of your cropsand put some money away into the box that you dig into theground. During the bad years, which there are many, you and yourfamily, your villagers, wilt under the strain of living off prayers andhand outs from family members in Dhaka or the lucky few in theMiddle East. You dream of providing more to your family; you wantto break out and be one of the lucky few working in the Middle Eastand sending money back home. Then you get the good news. Yourolder brother calls you to tell you that the manpower agent wholives in the apartment complex where he works has committed tosending you to Libya if you can pay him 2 Lac Takas. You borrowfrom your brother and mortgage your land and borrow the rest of the money, confident that you can pay it back and more from themoney you will earn in Libya.Imagine this. You are at the Dhaka airport. You are wearing blue overalls, holdingyour brand new passport in your hand and shuffling in line waitingfor the policeman to stamp your passport. You are scared, witheverything around you foreign, including the smartly dressedBangalis who speak English faster than the white people on TV. Youstare at a mother and her daughter standing in the next line, bothwearing shirt and pants and speaking in English. They see you

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