The End (of a generation)

Khawaza Main Uddin | Update:

water lily. Photo : Prothom Alo‘Age is nothing but a number’ is a quote used often by many these days. They perhaps don’t want any number bind their existence on earth, knowing that there is an end of being here.

Human accomplishments and events define certain ages that are understood by years, again, as numbers. Death is one that just not brings an end to an age but also marks an epoch.

Who knows if 2018 will be remembered in history as such a year?

The Bangladeshis were utterly shocked at the death of poet Kazi Nazrul Islam and singer Abdul Alim in 1976, a year when China’s Mao Xe Dong also died. The year 1963 is still recalled for the murder of US president John F Kennedy in Dallas and Tariq Ali called it a pre-figurative year.

In our university life, a distinctive year was 1990 when, at the climax of student demonstration, General HM Ershad was forced to end his nine-year rule.

Today’s Bangladesh reality may not affirm how much democratic dividend had the year fetched to our national political life.

In “1984” by George Orwell, Winston Smith fails to escape tyranny of the Big Brother, let alone pursuing his political ideology, loses his love and is metamorphosed into something else under tortures by his perceived comrade.

The ghost of the dark era sometimes returns to life with a different form!

My friends and people of contemporary period might have seen 1990 emotionally - something that the subsequent generations will not do exactly in the same way. We may justify our position by arguing to the very self that a generation’s sacrifice and even their lost dreams can hardly be denied.

Yes, every generation makes a mark, if not equally, on history, or at least on their own time.

Kofi Annan had redefined the relevance of the United Nations during his tenure as secretary-general. Atal Behari Vajpayee, even before being India’s prime minister, had heralded the change in Indian politics towards Hindutva ideology.

John McCain, through military services and as senator, had established himself as iconic figure of American might of the Cold War era. VS Naipaul had represented the bitterness of feelings in his pursuit of ambition. Israeli journalist Uri Avnery, who met Yasser Arafat, had proved a dissent for his own people’s mindset not to allow a Palestinian state.

Their obituary, fresh in our memory, suggests, if we recognise, the departure of a generation. We are yet to comprehend the effects of death of The Financial Express editor Moazzem Hossain and Samakal’s Golam Sarwar for the Bangladeshi media and journalists.

They had, however, served their respective purposes of how each of them perceived journalism in common times. We may have to admit that good things and also bad ones of their times may soon be considered the reality of bygone era.

At the moment of their demise, Bangladesh has witnessed a process that appears to be the departure from one age that is entering into another.

In fact, recent student demonstration, especially juveniles’ demand for justice and road safety, seems to be not only a new wave but also a shift in the trends of protests recorded earlier in this political nation.

The innocent children have expressed without saying by words that their senior generations, in leadership in particular, are corrupt and the older commoners cynical but indifferent about misdeeds and wholesale mis-governance.

It’s hard for the seniors to accept that their children have rejected the system but a new one is yet to be worked out. The way the innocents were treated on the streets by masked men in presence of the law enforcers doesn’t show our readiness to let one hundred flowers to bloom.

However, flowers will bloom - if not here, then elsewhere - or parish if aggressive ants launch attack on the bud. You cannot stop nor even see ever the flower deep into the Amazon.

As the rules of the worldly life go, the twilight has arrived for at least one generation that ruled the nation for many years. It’s now up to their choice whether they would allow a smooth transition or would they follow scorched earth policy, before the final exit from the scene.

The new people, whom the dominant minority of the establishment don’t know, are waiting for new narratives for their collective discipline before a new dawn arrives.

* Khawaza Main Uddin is a journalist and he can be contacted at

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