Any inquisitive child is likely to wonder how a bird floats on the air with its fragile feathery wings while s/he cannot despite his/her stronger arms. This inquisition has seen its fulfilment and disappointment in the mythical story of Icarus who flew too close to the sun. In real life disastrous jumps by men with artificial wings of light wood and vulture's feathers from mountain cliffs or towers only testify to the burning desire of flying like birds.
Today, an aeroplane has not only made air travel possible but also most cosy and comfortable with differential treatments for different classes of passengers. Apart from such commercial flights, there are presidential carriers as well as personal luxury airliners used by the superrich and sports personalities.
A 12-year runaway boy from Muksudpur, Gopalganj is unlikely to have any idea of what commercial flights carrying 120 to the maximum of 853 passengers are. The A380 Airbus double-deck jetliner is the largest carrier that has a typical seating capacity for 525 passengers with a maximum certified capacity for 853. Like any other boy of his age he was not interested in the size of a plane. But surely he had harboured in his bosom an undying aspiration for flying. When an aeroplane flies past, a village boy's natural instinct makes him look overhead and follow the soon vanishing miracle vehicle.
The majority of them feel disappointed at the idea of not having an opportunity to take flight on board such a plane but here was an exceptionally smart and ingenious boy who ran away from a madrasha in his native Muksudpur. He had the temerity to confront the daunting environment at the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport (HSIA) and also leave the security in place there nonplussed. When the average people educated and accustomed to airport regimes approach the formalities and different layers of security checks--- at five points at the HSIA --- with trepidation, the kid not familiar with the way of travelling simply dodged all security and intelligence agencies to get on board a Kuwait-bound airliner.
He was detected only because he was on a capacity sold-out aircraft. When the genuine ticket holder approached the cabin crew, it was discovered that the boy was a stowaway who, however, made no attempt to hide himself. What would have happened, had the boy found himself in a seat not sold out! He would have travelled to the Kuwaiti airport and chances were almost cent per cent of detection of his flight there without boarding pass, passport and visa.
As many as 10 members of the airport security and intelligence have been suspended following the incident. This is only natural because it has exposed the security lapses at the HSIA at their worst. But mercifully the boy was neither reprimanded nor rewarded. It is learnt from a report that the kid went back to his village and was taking a boat ride on beel water in the neighbourhood of his village. But this was not before he had made another attempt to flee when his uncle who took him back to the village was paying fare to the driver of the easy bike they travelled there. After several hours he was discovered in Muksudpur town.
The good news is that several people have visited the boy's village home to offer him and even members of his family air tickets for travelling either from Jashore to Dhaka or from Dhaka to Cox's Bazar. At least there are some people who can appreciate the boy's desperation for air travel.
Perhaps this makes a great testament to the liberated and individualistic spirit of the boy who dreads the regimented life of a madrasha. His is a soaring spirit that wants be on the wings of his free will. Indeed, kids in our society are spoiled by too much care. They are not allowed to grow on their own or at least not given the enabling environment to pursue their dreams they cherish so much. Child psychology is utterly neglected and such inventive, daredevil, resourceful and above all inquisitive minds are cruelly suppressed. There is a need for understanding their minds and nurturing their potential so that they can become assets in terms of human resources.