Unlocking the Lockdown!

By Sarwar Morshed


Influential people and poseurs in our country place boards inscribed with professional tags like ‘PRESS’, ‘DOCTOR’, ‘ADVOCATE’ etc. behind the windshields of their cars. They do this with calculated designs in mind. Displaying their real or assumed professional identity, they can avoid unnecessary police interrogation in the street or can enjoy the prerogative of using untrodden and prohibited tracks to avoid traffic jams.

Mr. Nasir was going to the terminal point of the city, the airport. He had only one hour at hand. Within this time it was virtually impossible to sail through the vast ocean of traffic and swarming crowd in Agrabad Commercial Area and Chattogram Export Processing Zone.

He brain-stormed and contemplated. After surveying the cartography of his problem-solving cognitive domains, this pandemic-day Buddha jumped out of his sofa with a loud, near-20K dB sound, “Eureka, Eureka!”

His wife, consumed with ‘I don’t have any faith in my husband’s conjugal fidelity’-attitude, meteor-like appeared before him from the kitchen wielding her lethal weapon, khunti*.

“Which Rekha are you talking about so loudly in this holy times of Ramadan, you shameless old man?”

“It’s not any blossomed beauty or Tinseltown Rekha, my intelligent Home Minister. I said, ‘Eureka’ meaning ‘I’ve got it’. I’m celebrating my solution to the heavyweight problem of going to the airport in time.”

“Thank God, you aren’t philandering then,” with these words, the relieved better-half resumed her full-queenship in the kitchen.

The king prepared a paper-board and bidding adieu to the queen, boarded the car. The driver, confused and skeptical, gave his unsolicited verdict that they would not be able to make it to the airport in time. The de-stressed Mr. Nasir just nonchalantly commanded his driver to place the board behind the windshield a la mode the self-styled VIPs and drive. The driver complied.

At a busy intersection, an arrogant traffic police aggressively approached the car, but a glimpse of the inscription melted his anger and he quickly made way for them. Mr. Nasir’s triumphal march met another opposition within the next five minutes — at Agrabad area, a troop of patrol police halted the car and asked why they were driving during the lockdown.

Mr. Nasir, wearing a grave but gloomy look, drew their attention to the board non-verbally. The enigmatic writing on the board almost froze the cops! With unbelievable haste and apparent respect, they let him go. At the busiest EPZ area, other vehicles, made way for Mr. Nasir’s car as if they had seen a ghost car!

They kept receiving this preferential and reverential treatment at every point and consequently reached the destination much ahead of scheduled time.

Amazed and pleased, the driver asked, “What magic words have you written on the paper, sir?”

“You see, if you have substance inside your head, you can manage even to run on water,”boasted Mr. Nasir gloatingly.

“I can’t disagree with you, sir. But what are the miracle-words?”  the driver impatiently tried to penetrate into the secret success-code of his boss.

Smuggly, the puffed-up Mr. Nasir revealed, “Ex-Covid patient driving a new one home.”

*khunti: A metallic spatula

Sarwar Morshed is a Professor of English at the University of Chittagong, Bangladesh. His works have appeared, among others, in The Bosphorus Review of Books, The Bombay Literary Magazine, City: Journal of South Asian Literature, Star Literature & Reviews, Contemporary Literary Review India, Mahamag and the Ashvamegh. Mr. Morshed’s books have been reviewed at home and abroad – in the Asiatic (IIUM, Malaysia), Transnational Literature (Flinders University, Australia), the Ashvamegh (India), Star Literature & Reviews, Observer Literature, daily sun and Dhaka Courier (Bangladesh).



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