A COLLECTOR CALLS
Our democracy was only four years old. The myth at the core of this religion was that brave students had overthrown the General: in fact, the donors had given him the push, after the collapse of the Berlin Wall.
Still, I dreaded what lay in future for us, for I reasoned that young students, armed by the parties, who believed that they could topple the government, would never again have any respect for law and order, or for anybody for that matter. And during the summer of 1994, I learned the truth of my prognostication first-hand.
My wife and I were living in a rented flat at Farm Gate, and my parents were in their one-storey house at New Eskaton. All was well, until the day my father sold the property.
That very morning a student politician called Nanno rang the bell; Shahid, the servant, opened the gate, and recoiled from a sharp slap on the face administered by Nanno's hand. He came back into the house, weeping, terrified.
My father came out, and stood at the door of the house. Nanno, a young man, probably eighteen years old, started calling him filthy names. When he had finished with his soliloquy, he threatened my father.
"Do you know that the boys would have killed you by throwing cocktails if it hadn't been for me?"
My father asked him what he wanted.
He wanted 200,000 Takas (back then, around $5,000).
"I can't give you that much money".
"Then they will kill you."
"Kill me, then." Long years of negotiations with militant and violent labour leaders had trained my father how to act in such situations.
"No, no, we don't want to kill you!" He could feel the money slipping out of his grasp. "Why should we kill you?"
OF LADIES AND GENTLEMEN