Time is not only uncertain, it is treacherous too. Living in such a time, it is not easy to live one's dream and also share it with others, particularly when the dream touches lives of others. But some people have successfully lived their dreams. All because their dreams by no means concern advancement of their personal interests but gradually become the dreams of others. It is like the spread of a conflagration from a spark.
The Chhayanaut was such a dream -one that was conceived by Waheedul Huq and Sanjeeda Khatun. They shared it with a few like-minded people who felt inspired by it and worked tirelessly and without fear against all odds. That was the time when the intriguing administration of Pakistan embarked on a most notorious mission to get Bangaleeness out of the Bangalees. Not only did the Chhayanaut defy the diktat of the dictators but on its journey to the future transformed itself into a cultural revolution which quietly but steadily persuaded the people to return to the nation's history, values, rich tradition and culture. The journey, as its pioneers believe, is from liberal Bangaleeness towards universal humanism.
The courage and determination the organisation demonstrated during the time of Pakistani subjugation was remarkable. In independent Bangladesh also, the Chhayanaut has been playing its role for cultural awakening quite commendably. Yet what causes the heart to sink and bleed is the stifling atmosphere in which its greatest celebration, the Brashaboron (welcome to Pahela Baishakh) is held. Where is the freedom to draw the morning fresh air from Ramna on the Bangla New Year's Day?
People still stream to the Ramna Botomool, the venue of the original Pahela Baishakh celebration, but the spontaneity and natural vibe associated with participation in the two-hour programme have been missing. All because time has changed so much! Even a strongman from Pakistan could not intimidate the people but now the enemies within have compelled the government to bring not only the venue but wide areas all around under a heavy security blanket.
This year the tightening of security was unprecedented ever since the bomb attacks at the venue in 2001, in which 10 people including one of the attackers were killed and many others got injured. People had to walk from different designated points at a considerable distance. Also women among the audience were not allowed to enter the Ramna Park with hand bags. This and many other restrictions forced the delay of the beginning of the cultural programme for the first time. Scheduled to end by around 8 a.m each year, the programme had to be extended beyond the scheduled time.
So the terror threat has taken its toll indirectly. People are raising their voice against disfiguring of wall paintings in Chittagong and soiling the name plaque of the circular mall dedicated to martyrs near the DU VC's residence. The acts of desecration in Chittagong and Dhaka are a stark reminder that the detractors are active all the time to carry out their nefarious programme.
The fact is that a looming threat of something ominous is there. Still the celebration of all the occasions close to Bangalee hearts goes on. The month-long Ekushey Book Fair is held under similar tight security. This indeed has become the reality of life in this country and many others across the planet. Never before did the illiberal forces take the fight so ruthlessly to governments the world over. The present system of socio-economic arrangement is to blame. It must change in favour of creating a just society where the need for political and religious radicalisation becomes redundant. Culture and economic programmes can be brought into a synthesis which in turn is likely to bring an end to the virulent adversity.