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My Crystal Ball

Omar Chowdhury
25 April, 2005

1992 was full of surprises. The fragments of the Russian Empire did not seem to understand the importance of learning to exist peacefully, and neighbours started fighting with each other. The republic of the Commonwealth of Independent States seemed to be opting for civil wars. Not all of them, but even a few engaging themselves in such conflicts, did not augur well for a productive future. The Balkan states did not seem to know what exactly to do with their newly won freedom from the Russian yoke! The electorate of one of them appeared to favour a return to Communism!

Mr George Bush surprised everybody. Including himself, by losing the presidential election. A comparatively raw governor of a small state began preparing himself for taking over the management of the now only superpower in the world, and evolving policies for asserting himself and his government abroad. Mr Bush astonished the world again by beginning to behave and function better after Mr Clinton had defeated him, than he had done before! This of course is only partly true.

1993 has not so far brought any positive surprises. But when I look into my crystal ball. I see distressing and alarming images.

The ozone layer will continue to be threatened by manmade elements of destruction. Such as CFCs and fossil fuels. To this we can add the possibilities, I seem to see, of erupting volcancoes, the force of whose upward thrusts of power could make huge holes in the layer. I see environmental enthusiasts getting more and more clamorous, and protesting vehemently but I do not see many governments either responding, or appearing to take the extinction of mankind seriously, or apprehending that it is getting nearer, whenever an air-conditioner or refrigerator or deep freeze is installed in a house. Nor when an ignition key starts the engine of a motor car. I think mankind has suffered from a death wish from the time of the first cave men!

O but man, proud man,
Dressed in a little brief authority,
So ignorant of what he is most assured
His glassy essence like an angry ape, plays
Such fantastic tricks before High Heaven,
As make the angels weep.

In Bangladesh, the angels have been weeping for a very long time! What do I see for 1993? Dreadful images!

Terrorism may well escalate, since the opposition parties appear to want it to continue. The War of the parties appear to want it to continue. The War Of The campus may go on and on. Our warrior youths everywhere seem to relish bloodshed! On the campus, parties will take place regularly cocktails, without the booze! What a pity! If only they could be persuaded to drink Dry martinis, or Singapore Slings! It is a frustrating situation. The chatros will not allow the students to study. This being so, what is the use of keeping the University going? The sad point of this sordid stories that job opportunities will not await those who have obtained their B.A’s or M.A.s, or even their ph.D.s by fair means or foul! Those who have been dropouts during their “academic” careers, will remain dropouts throughout their lives!

Catastrophes. The waters of the Bay of Bengal are rising, and will persist in so doing. Eventually (certainly by the year 2000 A.D.). when there are 6” of water covering the southern districts of Bangladesh, what will happen? My Essay written in 1997, if I am still around, may tell you!

Erosion by the end of 1999? For example, the rapacious Jamuna will have devoured 4 districts! And all the other rivers of the country may perhaps develop a similar greedy appetite.

My ball suddenly gives me a vision of Dhaka traffic conditions by the end of 1995. traffic will move bumper to bumper, and it may take 3 hours to get to Motijheel from Gulshan. Or get caught in traffic pickles. Get out of your vehicle, and walk? There will not be sufficient room to walk, because what about the cycle rickshaws and baby taxis? And what about carbon monoxide, and the inhaling at the same time of fatal cigarette smoke? Lung cancer on a monumental scale! Not everyone will be able to afford to ride safely in air-conditioned motor cars. For the others? Gas masks!

Let me conclude this morbid Essay on a happy note. Someone has told me that a group of historians and scholars have produced a history of Bangladesh in several volumes, starting from the 18th century, onwards! Surely it should be The History of Bengal?

A certain professor has come up with a notion that the first piece of land to emerge from the pristine seas of the earth was Bangladesh! And it was on this (presumably) island that Adam and Eve were born! He evidently has not read Genesis, or is not prepared to accept the biblical version of that event. In any case, Adam and Eve were not born in the Garden of Eden, They were placed there by God. You must believe this if you are a Christian.

Inspired by the startling revelation of this great professor, who perhaps resides in a northern district of Bangladesh, I am confuting both him and the Book of Genesis. Adam and Eve have not yet been born. They are still in a process of gestation. However, be patient. They will, by the Grace of God, be born towards the end of this month, in the Tejgaon Industrial Area. Watch for the exact date!

8 January, 1993.

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