Some of the moving stories carried in newspapers on Friday and Saturday are sure to moist many an eye. Two of these concern a boy and a girl ---both 11 years old --- in separate incidents and the other one is about a 22 years old girl.
Hasan Bapari, the boy, in his short life has known how hostile this world can be to his kind. First, the separation of his parents left no space for him in the new life of either of them. He went to live with his maternal grandparents in Feni. But their death made him without shelter. This time he was admitted to a madrasha in Narayanganj but there he was sexually abused by a teacher. Now he moved to live with one of his aunts in Wari. Here the boy was brutally murdered most likely by two youths who visited the place on Thursday and left. But then they returned knowing the boy would be alone at home. They committed burglary in the house and probably had to dispose of the only witness to their crime.
The second case is one of the many such cruelties inflicted on domestic helps. Here the girl, Nipa Baroi, from Uzirpur, was a class-III student before closedown of schools in the country on account of coronavirus rampage. The virus took a heavy toll on her family, like tens of thousands of such families. Poverty forced her parents to send her to a family of a physician serving at the National Institute of Traumatology and Orthopaedic and Rehabilitation commonly known as Pangu Hospital in the hope of a better life. The doctor hailed from a neighbouring village.
However, not all educated and well-placed people are kind to the poor souls. Some are fiendish inside which they hide under the veneer of fine dress and artificial etiquette. So many marks of hot kitchen stirrer and other sharp implements on the little one's body bear witness to the monstrosity inflicted on her. Even the doctor's last act confirms his heartlessness when he directed his office attendant to accompany her to her village home. The attendant left her near her home in a critical condition. Now the girl is undergoing treatment at the local upazila hospital.
The third incident involves self immolation by the 22-year-old girl who visits her parents' home from her husband's house in a neighbouring village and comes to know that her father has married again. The girl could not accept the fact that her father would have a second wife while her mother is still alive. At night she douses her with kerosene and ignites it.
These three incidents are representative of Bangladesh society in many ways. How silently children of broken families suffer is hardly realised by those who have never encountered the trauma. In most cases society is rarely receptive to such children's anguish and psychological deprivation. They are destroyed physically and mentally in their very prime.
As for the better-off and the privileged in society, they are becoming increasingly callous or outright exploiters and oppressors of the less fortunate. How can someone educated and well placed in society turn into a mindless brute to inflict lacerations on tender bodies of so young ones?
Polygamy, on the other hand, has been vitiating society's stability. It has emerged as a contagious disease in slums in particular. There are men who marry one after another girl or woman only to leave them with no trace behind. The number of single mother is thus growing and the children in most cases are fated to be street children. Those who can survive the harsh reality and maltreatment often end up in the underworld of drug and crimes.
Society is wobbling because of yawning disparities with many left uncared for in terms of livelihoods, education, health and hygiene, physical and psychological nourishment. The educated and the privileged are becoming too selfish to look after the down-trodden. Thus a segment of society now proves to be a drag on it. The sooner the more fortunate come to realise that leaving quite a significant portion of population behind puts at risk human progress, social harmony and peace the better for all.