Mass Amnesia Syndrome

While I was reading “One Hundred Years of Solitude” a couple of weeks back, I felt I was reliving a moment in last year’s political turmoil in Dhaka. I was reading the part with the killing of three thousand men, women and children in the square near the railway station, who were gunned down by the soldiers sent to maintain order. Jose Arcadio Segundo, a survivor from the massacre, found himself heaped with dead bodies on a train and had managed to escape with the memory intact. He came back to the town of Macondo where it all happened, and discovered that no one could recall such an awful event ever taking place.

It reminds me of the night when members of the Hefazat-e-Islam were driven out of Dhaka city from the Shapla Chattar in Motijheel. The event had come to be termed as 2013 Operation at Motijheel Shapla Chattar. While, we have no clue what had actually happened as the government had barred any sort of media coverage on the night of the eradication, I still think of it as somewhat strange. It could be that nothing had happened or perhaps, a lot has happened, but we will never know. Many such events had happened at several points of time. We see, we hear, we read, but most importantly we forget. It’s like we all suffer from amnesia, unknowingly.

Thanks to social networks like Facebook and Twitter, we are aware of atrocities surrounding us on a daily basis. They help us to remove ignorance and tune into reality through other people’s status updates and sharing of articles, which may otherwise never make it to the newspapers. It helps. But like all other global problems, it makes us concentrate on the present moment and fails to sustain the impact of the awareness. We rant and share today, then we are made to forget tomorrow. Are we all suffering from Mass Amnesia Syndrome?

Not to single out this event only, and being a victim myself, it occurred to me that we forget very easily just as we are pleased very easily. In  a collective defense, I figured forgetting is part of the moving-on mechanism where if you hang on to an event or even a person, you often cease to live life presently. To counteract that very defense; we forget because we accept. In terms of this event, of which we have little to no information about, we had the right to know. The media plays a critical role in today’s society. It turned ignorant people like me to reading three to four newspapers a day to be updated on world affairs. It has more power than we can imagine as it influences our thought process and sometimes, even our actions. National catastrophes has recently become a vague memory in our lives as we “move on”. If we carry on this trend, then the earth may cease to be progressive in nature. We will almost always end up in the past, recreating history in all its glory. In fact, we are almost craving for the medieval times with our obsession over TV shows like Game of Thrones and Boardwalk Empire. Sometime ago, even in the modern times, we were still slightly shy of watching nudity and repelled being exposed to bloody murders, let alone popping out eye balls with blood splattering all around! Now, we are all for it, celebrating the magnificence of a scene so well written by a writer who loves to kill off his most noble characters, and letting evil survive more often than not.

The discovery of the world being round has a lot to do with human lives too, in my humble opinion. We start at one point, make so much progress along the way, only to return to where we started.


Hefajat men flee Motijheel, The Daily Star, Monday, May 6, 2013



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