Immigration, Migration

Global refugee crisis: catalysts, stereotypes and challenges for rehabilitation

Prologue: As I am near finishing writing this article, France witnessed the worst ever terrorist attack on its soil. As an immediate reaction, the borders have been shut and there is a public outcry in Europe – not only in the nationalist parties, but amongst general public, to stop Syrian immigrants entering Europe. Rallies held in numerous Eastern European countries as well as in France and the UK, for sending back the refugees waiting to be resettled. The Italian speaking province in Switzerland banned the burqa or niqab. Donald Trump in the US spoke about creating a database for Muslims in the country. Several states in the US revoked the pledge to accept refugees. Greek coastguards were witnessed to be trying to sink boats filled with refugees. The abject discrimination against the Syrian refugees is just one of many examples of the persecutions of the refugees in today’s apparently modern world…

An obituary to Aylan Kurdi

Aylan Kurdi. The entire world now knows the name of this child. His limp innocent body on the seashore of Turkey made us all realise what the refugees are going through, and what losses they are suffering just to give a safe life to their offspring and families. Aylan’s death brought our world to a standstill, and it dawned on us how insensitive our values have become, when it took death of a three year old boy, whose last words to his dad was “Papa, don’t die”, for the world to empathise with the miseries of the refugees and react to the crisis. After a few days of online philanthropy, Aylan’s little body will fade away from our memory, the world will become an indifferent, fragmented place again, where we don’t know and don’t care how lives of other human beings are constantly put under threat in other corners of the world. But I won’t forget you little Aylan Kurdi, your angelic smile, and every time I’ll think of you, I will have tears in my eyes, for your death that was so unnecessary, so cruel, and I will be angry at the world, who watched by as your little hands lost the grip of your father, until the waves carried you to the shore. I don’t believe in heaven or hell, but I will say rest in peace little Aylan, you are finally safe, to eternity…

Aylan

Aylan Kurdi’s body found on the Turkish cost Source: WSJ

I am fascinated by anthropology and a recent visit to the Natural History Museum in London opened my eyes to time — the most important dimension we never have the full appreciation of, and the scale of it. When we think that our planet Earth is 4.5 billion years old with geological periods lasting millions of years, during which, dinosaurs have ruled the world and became extinct, and the first human beings only appeared one million years ago — putting that time into perspective, the earliest discovered human civilisation around 8000 years ago means we humans are only a microscopic part of a jigsaw that is our universe. Since the first human beings appeared in Africa, they were eternal ramblers, always looking to voyage for great unknowns and finding pastures green. Driven by the carnal desire for a better habitat, abundance of food or simply evading the conflicts of leadership, these early humans dispersed from Africa to Central Asia, Americas then through Bering Strait into Far East. The stories of migration and exploration of our ancestors fascinate us and make us marvel at the phenomenal progress of the human civilisation since time unknown. Yet, standing in the 21st century, where mankind achieved exponentially since those prehistoric times and pushed the boundaries of human capabilities beyond belief, on the humanitarian front it is shameful that we have not extricated ourselves from the vices and superstitions characteristic of those ancient times. The shameful manifestation of anti-migration views in world’s most advanced countries is a stark example, whereby with these malicious feelings, people are denouncing the very existence of their evolution. Rather than wonder and encourage it, migration has become a stigma of our time. 

Writing about migration is quite contentious as the public opinion seems to be bifurcated — half the population is usually against it and nearly the other half does not know much about it — only leaving a small fraction of people, who actually understand the situation and care about crises. The definition of migration is the first stumbling block. There are so many different words used in the media — migrant, immigrant, refugee, émigré. Without trying to open Oxford dictionary, the broad definition of immigrant denotes a generic term referring anyone living in a foreign country; it does not depend on the reason. On the other hand, popular connotations of an émigré exude a sense of superiority, belonging to the upper echelon of the social tiers of a country, but in real terms they are opposite of immigrants, citizens of a country emigrated abroad mainly for career prospects. The remainder two — migrants and refugees, are the most widely used terms in the context of migration. They both refer to the people leaving a country or region, mainly the places where they were born, in order to live in another country. Although both of these terms can be classified by the noun Migration, the fundamental differences between these two terms have been largely overlooked or purposefully misused by the world media. Whilst migrants are affected by the present situation of their country, the catalyst to move to another country or another part of the world is mainly economical, driven by their ambitions to achieve something for themselves or provide a better future for their future generations. Refugees, on the contrary, are forced to abandon their habitat and move to another country for a safe haven, that their country cannot provide. Migrants are driven by an aspirational issue, whilst refugee or asylum seeking is existential — the survival depends on escaping the habitat — be it from genocide, autocracy, religion, famine, endemic or militias. The burning example of the purposed or erratic misuse of terms referring migration is the context of the Syrian crisis, where the refugees are often referred as migrants. The bias of right wing press is obvious, but the liberal media often followed the bandwagon quoting the millions of homeless victims of religious crossfire between the Assad regime and ISIL as migrants, not refugees. 

Migration and asylum is an issue very close to my heart as my entire life has circled around listening to stories of migration — forced and consensual, or witness the post-migration impacts on refugees’ lives. Both my parents were born in the Indian provinces in post-partition East Pakistan, to be later called Bangladesh. Threatened by the religious genocide between 1947 and 1971, like millions of other Hindu families, my parents fled their troubled homes to India, then struggled all their life to make lives of our generation better. Thus, the stories of their struggle and sufferings made one detest the factors that incited the migration, but on the other hand kindled hope and optimism, provided us a raison d’être to give a meaning to their fight. My parents risked their lives to flee a region becoming exponentially volatile for the sake of their lives and subsequently sacrificed rest of their lives — trying to make our lives free of such trauma, once they found a safe livelihood in India. HOME became a sacred word; my father always wanted to have a house of his own that he could say is home — a sense of belonging to a piece of earth, a dream that has eluded him all his life, and now that I have migrated to the UK pursuing my aspirations, he always asks me to have a home of my own. Like him, I have uprooted myself from the place where I was born, leaving behind everything and everyone known. However, I am a migrant, whilst my father was a refugee, and our account of moving from our country is completely different — I can reminisce the past days through rose-tinted glasses, but for my father, it probably was a time he rather forgot or wished never happened to him. This essay is therefore like a lens, looking through my entire life and building up the hypotheses based on anecdotes, information and experiences gathered along the journey so far.

Refugees from Bangladesh leaving for India Source: muktijoddha.org

Refugees from Bangladesh leaving for India
Source: muktijoddha.org

From time immemorial human migration has been taking place, as our ancestors continuously strived for better living conditions. The modern civilisation in its current form would not exist, had the primordial men and women not migrated. However, limiting our focus only on twentieth century would show what factors instigated migrations and socio-political unbalance. The biggest contributor to the social unrest are two — politics and religion. In most cases these two factors are intertwined, perhaps politics of religion could aptly include the two causes. Regardless of the semantics, politics and religion, the invasive nature of both these factors are incited by wealth. Looking at the single biggest incident that destabilised the entire world — from Middle-East to Americas and Far-East, is Communism. But at the heart of the Communism debate and the Cold War lies the capitalist world’s fear of mass movement of the oppressed to demand their share of the profit. It is Wealth what incited the Cold War and the resultant arms race, that contributed the complete destabilisation of the political system in the Middle-East, the home of the biggest refugee crisis in recent times or the breeding ground for the cause of it — religious fanaticism — through obliteration of any working liberal governance in the region. On the other hand, fall of Soviet Union saw collapse of entire Eastern Bloc countries especially the complete dissolution of the Yugoslavia, creating religious factions all trying to have a land they can claim their own. 

The other biggest component is of course Colonialism — its spectre plagued the entire world. Like politics and religion, colonialism is also fuelled by wealth, perhaps with a more overt correlation. Starting with the Spanish and Portuguese, the hunger for power and wealth soon spread to the rest of the Western Europe during the middle ages. In the modern post-Renaissance era, the worst perpetrators are still the British, but not far behind will be the French, Dutch, Flemish/Belgians, Germans. Whilst many scholars recently argue about the benefits of colonialism to the developing countries, it is without doubt that any such supposed benefits came at a much heftier cost the countries didn’t deserve or choose to pay. There has been mass exodus during these colonial regimes with people trying to flee the atrocities and famines. After WWII, with the cost of running the colonies skyrocketing, the resources thoroughly exploited and depleted and finally the ghost of two great wars haunting the developed world, the rulers left the colonies in ruins having plundered all the resources over hundreds of years. The colonised countries, with the skeleton of infrastructure from their exploited past, became breeding grounds for class division, corruption, nepotism and racial/religious fission. Africa was one of the worst hit continents picking up pieces together to form countries, but managed to be embroiled in bloody tribal wars that has possibly seen the most number of mass migration. Famine, endemics followed suite as a result of unsustainable exploitation of natural and human resources. The Middle-East, already waged into turbulent sectarian conflicts amongst member states were further destabilised by formation of Israel, and the west’s pledge to sponsor its atrocities later on. On the other hand, the sub-continent was scarred forever with religious conflicts. The wave of religious hatred even engulfed the far reaches of Myanmar, where the Bangladeshi Rohingya tribes are forced to migrate to as far as Malaysia to avoid the violence. The Divide and Rule ploy not only split countries, neighbourhoods and families into pieces, but also fuelled the conflict amongst them, in order to profit from the arms deals. It is the biggest mockery of our times that the G8 countries are purported as harbingers of world peace, yet all of them are the biggest arms dealers in the world, responsible for most of the armed conflicts in one way or another!

These are some of the underlying factors that coerce people to move out of their homeland, abandoning their habitat and familiar surroundings for hundreds and thousands of years. Looking at the other side of the spectrum on the refugee crises — regarding the rehabilitation and integration of refugees in the countries they seek shelter in — the situation is much worse. Although not for the reasons we see in today’s world, human migration is an undeniable and unavoidable phenomenon — it will never stop, as the end of it will mean people stopped dreaming and aspiring. It will mean that we have become a defeated race on earth and a superior species will rise to throw us down the precipice of anthropological oblivion. Hence, considering human migration is an unequivocal fact, it would be a completely different story, if people at different corners of the world wanted/was forced to move at another region and their exodus did not encounter any resistance. Looking at the legendary settlers, they moved to barren lands and built civilisations. The nomadic nature of our ancestors is completely undermined in the present society, more so in the so called developed world than the other parts. In an ideal situation, these people need not flee their habitat, but if that can’t be prevented, the next best scenario would be that they all found a safe refuge, and if the countries in the developed world can boast about their social infrastructure, they should be the forerunners in providing shelters for these refugees. 

 Instead, the refugee crises across the world paints picture completely in contrast with what should have happened. The biggest instigators of the migration crises are the ones who are most vociferous against immigration on their land. The hypocrisy of the US, UK and Saudi Arabia in mitigating the Syrian refugee crises are at best shocking, at worst abhorrent. Considering US is not directly affected by the Syrian migration as is Europe, and their pledge to receive some of the Syrian refugees is commendable, the US foreign policy in the Middle East especially backing Israel in the Palestine conflict has long destabilised the balance of the region. UK, the sidekick in the US affairs, has become a myopic xenophobic state under the Tory regime, but the roots go much deeper. Against what is commonly purported as quintessential British values, the public psyche has done a complete volte-face and suddenly became nationalist, utterly intolerant and devoid of any compassion or empathy. The Syrian migration crisis was a perfect platform for the government to prove that it there is still a voice of reason within the party whip, but the decision to take a paltry 20,000 refugees over five years simply quashed that expectation. When millions of Syrian refugees fled the country — being caught on the crossfire between autocratic Assad regime and the ISIL terrorists, the gulf nations played silent bystanders sitting on their petro-dollars. On the other hand, rather than taking refugees or at least sending aides, the astounding decision by Saudi Arabia to build mosques in Germany defeats all reasons. Australia, on the other hand puts any asylum seekers or refugees to other oceanic countries to make them receive financial aid from Australia. With an enormous, albeit not entirely habitable landmass, passing the responsibility to another country is equally brazen.

What the refugees are facing, especially trying to move to a country in the developed world e.g. Europe, US, Australia etc, is extremely inhuman. Their fate is met with the cold calculating political impasse by the countries they seek refuge in or use as an entrepôt en route their final destination. These governments believe in the economy of war, and the politics of fear. Keeping people misinformed and fearful of the refugee situation would then justify armed action, thriving the economy of war. This is why, accepting 20,000 refugees took Britain to think about it for a week, whilst the decision will probably be taken in unison about sending troops in Syria, which will cost millions of taxpayer money. Helping the refugees settle could have made lives of thousands more refugees waiting to be accepted more bearable after the horrific spell they have been through. During the temporary phase of public outcry to support Syrian refugees, there was one banner that became much circulated — you don’t put your children in water if the land was safer. The desperate situation these people are put into, caught in a complicated web of power, politics, religion and wealth; yet, other than countries like Germany and Sweden, with reference to Syrian crisis, what the other developed nations are doing can be termed as tumbleweed.

However, there is a more sinister twist in the situation that will need unveiling more urgently. Governments, and on much wider terms, all mainstream political parties, are the mirrors to the public psyche, and they hardly take a stance for the greater good, when the majority of the population is either unaware or misinformed about the actual situation and are against the policy. Looking at the reluctance of the governments to provide help to the refugees, it is merely a replication of the unwillingness or even the antipathy of the public against the migrants. The rising levels of nationalist and anti-immigrant sentiment is not only witnessed in my present residence in the UK, but it is observed everywhere else, where there is a migrant influx in the country. In the UK, it has become a very clichéd practice now, to blame the eastern European migrants as root cause for all problems. Treatment of Syrian refugees in Eastern European countries in recent times was absolutely diabolical. How the men were separated from women and children is a stark reminder of the biggest genocide against migrants in Europe since WWII — Srebrenica — a lesson in history that was pledged never to be repeated. In India, there is a growing voice against people fleeing communalism and religious persecution from neighbouring Bangladesh. Even within the country itself, migrant workers from other states are often targeted by the right-wing local hooligan parties. A common trend emerges from all these snapshots from a wide geographical span — that it is the common working class people, the majority of the population, who are against the refugees migrating to their country. This makes one wonder, why are so many hard working people, who are often characterised by the brother’s keeper mindset, antagonise their counterparts from another part of the country?

The answer lies in the panic-mongering of the political parties and migrants often prove to be the perfect red herring, a scapegoat to divert people’s attention from real issues. In very few societies across the world would one find working class keeping abreast of the current affairs and form their opinion on those issues. In absence of an alternative voice of reason, the capitalist led media diabolically steered the attention to all the crises their economies faced, to migrants. Housing, education, employment, economy — migrants are portrayed as bloodsuckers on all facets, purportedly depriving the citizens of the benefits. This antagonism is served with a twist of past glory — jingoistic nationalism, where everything was hunky dory when the countries/regions were made of indigenous people of same colour, language and religion. With a barrage of such twisted media representation, the working class begins to think that their predicament is somehow attributable to the migrants, not the actual perpetrators in their high citadels. These reportings are bolstered by statistics to make them appear more authentic, whereas the figures are at best misrepresentative at worst fraudulent.  Duped by these statistical figures, the general public saw the data in front of their eyes, and in absence of critically analysing the information or the lack of time for it, a different and alternative image of the refugees starts to build in the eyes of the working class of the country. Refugees are demonised to let the political parties and their cronies in the high echelon of the society continue to carry out more sinister plots to rob the poor. 

There are more to blame than just the media and the politicians. The working class people in any country tend to show tendency of prejudices — be it racial, sexual, cultural or lingual. It is the prejudice of the common people of a country — people the refugees are most likely to interact with — that makes the integration of the immigrants into the society much difficult. And here, the difference between an migrant and a refugee becomes starkly visible. Migrants often possess skills to offer to the host country, and with an income source, although social ostracism couldn’t be avoided, they can ignore it and lead a normal life. On the other hand, refugees — although depending on the crisis they can be from any class in the society — consist of mainly the working class to unskilled class of the population. They are expected to re-educate, retrain and all at the same time whilst they try to resettle in a completely alien land and culture. Remembering tales heard from my dad, to the story of a Hungarian cleaner in London or story of the first Romanian arriving in Britain or the harrowing mistreatment a of the Syrian refugees in Eastern Europe — they all spell the same story of mistrust, vilification and discrimination of the migrant/refugees by the common people in the host country. Apart from being discriminated for being different from the country’s indigenous population, there is also a pressure on the refugees to become like one of the model citizens of the adoptive country — prove their allegiance to the host country at every instant. This is why a Muslim is expected in western world to constantly denounce and castigate any acts of Muslim extremism, whereas no one no one heard a similar plea from every Christian during the Anders Breivik massacre. Likewise, all migrants are expected to don a poppy on Remembrance Day, a Bangladeshi refugee in India is expected to say jal instead of paani for water, a Romanian migrant has to declare to the camera that he is there to work and not to live on benefits.

Also there is another dimension in this conundrum regarding the refugee crisis, which is the racial bias of people — direct or subconscious. The sad and cruel demise of little Aylan Kurdi can never be included for a political justification, but the arrival of Syrian refugees in the doorstep of Europe posed another challenge for the local authorities. In one side there was religion, where communities that are not coherent with people from different religion and cultural background. On the other side there is a preference for race. This is why Syrian refugees have received a much warmer welcome than the ones still waiting in Calais.  One would not fail to notice that despite the threat of extremism, Syrians lack a stereotype image, as opposed to the black African migrants from war torn east Africa. The fact, that the refugees in Calais have been waiting for asylum much longer in inhabitable living conditions, has been completely overlooked by the populist media and politicians alike, due to stereotyping and character profiling of African immigrants. A similar approach was observed during the last Indian general election when the would be prime minister Modi proclaimed that the Hindus in neighbouring Bangladesh are more than welcome to rehabilitate in India if they faced communal violence, but the Muslims won’t be allowed in, despite India being a republic. Even in Europe, the discrimination against Roma tribes are well observed and the lack of media/social uproar exemplifies that the media only broadcasts sensationalist news. The undercurrent of racism against migrants became blatantly obvious during shameful veto in EU by the Eastern European countries, during the discussion of the quota of refugees each member state will need to take. Statements coming from Slovak prime minister that they (Muslims) won’t be welcome in Slovakia because there are no mosques or the Hungarian right wing photographer kicking and trying to trip a Syrian refugee, to Daily Mail likening the refugees to rats as did the Nazi campaigns in 1939, to David Cameron referring refugees to swarms — the hostility of the recipient nations became clear either through action or the choice of words in the context. 
Refugee camp in Calais "Jungle" Source: Independent

Refugee camp in Calais “Jungle”
Source: Independent

There is a counter-argument by various countries against immigration. Why would a country accept refugees? A country has limited resource, living space and social infrastructure that cannot be widely altered within a short time span. Based on the resource constraints, a country cannot take more refugees beyond a sustainable number. However, this needs to be measured as a direct difference between the people arriving in the country and the citizens emigrating — not the net value of the immigration. “We are full, there is no more space” may be a compelling argument for the UK for the limited habitable landmass, but certainly not for the US or mainland Europe or the subcontinent. But answering why a country should provide refuge to the immigrants, the focus cannot be the based on just geography and economy. The first question to be asked is whether any recipient country is directly or indirectly responsible for causing or aggravating the situation. If the answer is yes then it becomes a direct responsibility of that country to help out the refugees sacrificing their entire life. For example it becomes a direct responsibility of the US to support the Palestine refugees caused by Israel, empowered by a divisive US foreign policy. Or in case of Syria, although Turkey is involved indirectly, they are also the home for the biggest refugees with the numbers surpassing 1.5 million. However, beyond such examples, all countries should reach out for helping the refugees on humanitarian grounds alone. Without being directly involved, Germany will accept close to a million refugees being a responsible member of the EU to stop innocent people die. Sweden’s pledge to receive hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees also demonstrates that despite the dismal turn of events the refugees went through, thanks to countries like Germany, Sweden, Turkey or Jordan, a large number of displaced immigrants have found rehabilitation and a new beginning to regain the rhythm of life back. On the contrary, the gross ignorance of the governments of UK and Eastern Europe as well as the mistreatments by the authorities in Greece and Hungary paints a dire picture, where countries either not taking up the responsibility or totally indifferent to the trauma and persecutions faced by these refugees. 

However, as mentioned above, there are silver linings in this dreary situation, by looking at the positive message portrayed by actions of various countries. Apart from Germany and Scandinavia, whilst the government reaction was otherwise abysmal, general public welcomed the Syrian refugees with a lot more generosity. Despite a large part of the population in every country being sceptical about migrants, a considerably large part of the population in every country in Western Europe welcomed the refugees with open arms, and went to great lengths to help them. Starting from a welcome message of solidarity across football stadiums to people sending essential necessity goods to the refugees in their van driving thousand kilometres — the extent of help received was spellbinding. Apart from general public, the charities and non-profit organisations have been tirelessly working to provide the basic necessities such as water, tents, warm clothes, medicines. In the UK, wherever the right wing groups attempted to convene a rally opposing the intake of refugees, their malicious voices were doused by considerably large contingents of the liberal members of the society, the #refugeeswelcome movement filled in the entire Trafalgar square with equal spontaneity as it did in the social media. Whilst the western Europe is still ignorant on other refugees waiting for months, even years, in the camps in Calais, the aids extended to the Syrian refugees will certainly provide more impetus on other countries around the world. Despite being in a much weaker economic situation, a parallel could be observed in the subcontinent during past few decades, where the Bengali society in the Indian part of Bengal has long been supporting all the refugees coming from eastern part presently known as Bangladesh. As I witnessed throughout my life, despite the cultural dissimilarities, the members of the society created a space common to all, making everyone equally welcome.

So, what will happen to the millions of refugees, uprooting themselves from the land of their origin, setting off to a far flung place? Will our ever expanding horizon of knowledge and humanity eradicate the utterly unfair marginalisation of the unfortunate refugees? Will the precursors to the forced human movement across the globe be eliminated, so the existential migration become an antiquated phenomenon? Part of the answer is held in the history. Looking back in history, it paints the most optimistic picture on the crisis. History is a greatest leveller. In essence, it proved the Darwinian theory of survival of the fittest, whilst creating a human race superior to the previous generations. Human race, since time immemorial has fought many battles for survival and it became stronger with every conquest. Old civilizations perish away whilst the new ones flourish. The melting pot of the Syrian refugee crisis  — the Middle-East, has once been the prosperous place where the entire western and Indic population originated from – Assyria, Persia, Mesopotamia, Sumer – these places have been decimated to rubbles. Past glory of Roman and Greek empire faded away over thousands of years. Now, Greece is a state asking for handouts from the IMF whilst Italy is not far behind. On the other hand, the rise of the East in the recent past was phenomenal, after a long hiatus. And during all these periods, human civilisation never stalled, and it survived. There is already a tendency for the skilled workforce to be emigrating to the East from the western world, contrary to the trend observed previously. Although this is not overwhelming, the movement is palpable. As for the refugees, who are forced to migrate influenced by other determinants, the biggest obstacle amongst their way is religion and illiteracy. And the lack of wealth. Even in the 21st century, we are divided as we have been 2000 years ago. Unless UN plays a big part in bringing all countries under one umbrella and have a holistic plan on how to tackle the problems globally, the situation will take a long time to stabilise. The UN motion in recent past to eradicate ISIL was a landmark step forward to reinstate some balance and equilibrium in the Middle-East and North Africa, the source of the biggest refugee crisis. The answer lies with us, the rest of the world. If we play a role of mere spectators, this will take decades if not centuries to stabilise and elevate the living standards of millions of refugees. Those who survived the perilous passage to a safe abode, their life  has just began after passing through the numerous barbed wire fences we call borders, overcoming the threats of sea, deserts and mountains. Their new life perhaps consists of a suitcase full of clothes and a heart full of hope — hope to make a new beginning. 

Human migration is a tour de force, an unavoidable phenomenon. This is how the world is shaped to the world we live in — a connected entity from pockets of civilisations sprouting at different corners of earth since prehistoric times. Migration has taught us to be resilient against all adversities — natural or human. It taught us to be adaptive, to innovate and evolve. We pushed our boundaries with every voyage made, every new land found, every civilisations formed. Remembering a  documentary about the Sentinelese people, bolstered the fact that if the first humans did not migrate, we would still be living in Stone Age— being hunter gatherers. Not blinkered by countries or religions – these tales of eternal explorative nature of the human race makes us proud of our lineage. Although the persecutions suffered by the refugees are inhuman, their stories are not short of a modern day version of the fairy tales, exemplifying their grit and sacrifice, their courage under fire. As much as their sufferings make us angry, and helpless, their tales rekindle our hope on humanity. It reinforced a belief that the humans will progress, eradicating all evils. Like Huns or Nazis, ISIL will be history, intolerance will be history, boundaries will be history, as will our language and religion  following the path of human development. We will not witness any more lifeless Aylan Kurdi’s floating ashore. This fills us with hope for a better tomorrow, for we are the perpetual nomads. We can stand together for the refugees, as we are the migrants ourselves. Ignoring this would be tantamount to abnegating our human existence.

Post Script: If one ever wonders how they could support refugees in their locality or remotely, the options are limitless. Perhaps the short list below would provide some ideas how they can be helped and showed solidarity and compassion.

•  They need essential supplies – food, clothes, sanitation. Send money or buy items they require. 
•  Preferably use charities or non-profit organisations for sending money, and GiftAid it to make the contributions bigger.
•  Send used clothes through charities.
•  If possible, do volunteering work in shelters.
•  Donate books for children, and toys.
•  Share the spare room to house a refugee until they are offered asylum.
•  Sign petitions for the governments to act on them and spread awareness on social media.
•  The last but not the least, if you cannot do any of the above, at least show solidarity towards the refugees as fellow human beings. They might not be aware of cultures and custom of your country yet, and with the trauma of being uprooted, it takes a long time to acclimatise. Be courteous to them at social surroundings when you come across the refugees, and be patient. A smile can make a massive difference on how welcome they feel to your society.

Further reads:

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#JeSuisParis, #ParisAttack, JeSuisParis, Paris, Terrorisme

Je suis Paris: Réflexions sur l’attaques terroristes du 13.11.15

J’ai une connexion spirituelle avec la France il y a longtemps. Comme j’ai grossi dans une ville nommée l’un des «Paris de l’Orient» pour sa richesse culturelle, pour être mieux avancé en pensées et pour avoir un joie de vivre, dès ce temps-là, j’ai ressenti un lien très fort avec Paris, et la France en générale. Pour moi, il y avait toujours Paris, la capitale culturelle du monde, l’acmé de maîtrise intellectuelle, la culmination de la liberté d’expression. Et il y avait la reste du monde, séparés entièrement de ma ville de rêve. Et encore, la France était toujours le pays de la liberté, égalité, fraternité qui a formé le premier république moderne après la révolution sanglante. Quand j’ai entendu «La Marseillaise» la première fois,  j’ai remarqué comment les mots sont complètement différent que les autres hymnes nationales. Il n’y avait pas aucun référence de dieu, ni prier, ni une explication comment magnifique son pays est. Au contraire, l’hymne parlait d’être armées jusqu’à ce que les champs sont remplis de sang de son ennemi. Première fois, ç’a semblait un peu violent, mais les mots aussi signifient la sacrifice française pendant la révolution. Sans ces sacrifices, la France comme nous la connaissons aujourd’hui n’aurait pas existé. Plusieurs siècles sont passés depuis «La Marseillaise» a été écrit, mais une phrase a tout à fait reflété comment l’attentats terroristes du 13 Novembre 2015 ont eu lieu — «Ils viennent jusque dans nos bras/ égorger nos fils, nos compagnes…». Les événements seront écrits comme un jour noir, pas seulement pour la France, mais pour l’humanité entière quand l’amour et la vie est bousculé par les mercenaires de mort.

C’est la deuxième fois quand Paris est frappé par les terroristes inconnus cette année, cachés derrière leur visages normale. Le visage de ces mercenaires n’étaient pas extraordinaire, ceux n’étaient pas marqués par symboles qui nous disent que leurs cœurs sont remplis de la haine. Au contraire, ces meurtriers peut-être semblaient tout banale, comme toi et moi, et c’est comment ils peuvent mélanger avec la foule avant qu’ils ont lancé leurs attaques. Précisément c’est une mission  presqu’impossible quand l’on ne sait pas l’ennemi, ce n’est pas une guerre où l’on peut regarder dans les yeux des soldats et savoir lequel côté ils appartiennent.  

Écritures sur une statue au près de place de la Concorde, mis pendant ma visite en Juin.  Paris outragée, paris brisé, Paris martyrisé, mais Paris Libéré

Écritures sur une statue au près de place de la Concorde, mis pendant ma visite en Juin.
Paris outragée, paris brisé, Paris martyrisé, mais Paris Libéré

Mais attends! On ne se bat plus les guerres comme ça. Nous appuyons un bouton et tuons centaines n’importe qu’ils étaient l’ennemi, les terroristes ou les citoyens innocents. Et aussi, c’est toujours le débat adopté par les fascistes…la gloire de se sacrifier protéger son pays. Ils glorifient la guerre, promeuvent la haine contre les autres humains. Après la cauchemar du vendredi soir, il y avait déjà une tendance de condamner les immigrés Syriens et aussi déclarer qu’islam est une religion barbare qui promeut violence contre les autres religions surtout chrétiens. Tel points de vue seulement aggravent la situation, laissent les sociétés divisées en isolant les minorités. Comme les terroristes, les fascistes aussi ont rien à offrir pour améliorer l’humanité et seulement nourrissent de peur des citoyens. La France est en deuil et la gouvernement a promis un réplique «impitoyable», mais on ne doit pas oublier d’être vigilant contre le politique de droite, pour que la haine ne puisse plus exacerbé. 

Quelques rubriques transmettant la haine contre Islam. Source: Facebook page officiel des groupes de fascistes

Quelques rubriques transmettant la haine contre Islam.
Source: Facebook page officiel des groupes de fascistes

Le terrorisme est une crise de notre temps-ci, mais c’est plutôt comme une maladie qui a fallu éradiquer. Il faut utiliser la pouvoir dans une situation d’urgence contre les meurtriers, pour protéger les citoyens contre les attaques et les pays doivent être plus coordonnées, plus unifié. Mais avec la pouvoir militaire, la tâche sera seulement demi-complet. La lutte le plus difficile sera d’effacer l’idée du terrorisme, son existence hors des cerveaux des son poursuivants. Il faut enseigner qu’il n’y a pas aucune gloire à achever tuer les autres humains, il n’y a pas aucune éternité leur attend après la mort. Ça sera seulement la honte, la mépris. 

La combat contre le terrorisme sera un affaire long, dur et grave. Mais il faut rester unifié toujours, et n’oublier jamais ceux qu’on a perdu. Quant à parler sur l’atrocité en Paris, nous devons aussi commémorer aux autres qui sont morts ou blessés aux autres coins de la terre — Liban, Irak, Kenya — n’importe où ces actes se sont passés, le sang saigné était toujours rouge. Aussi, les chiffres ne doivent pas nous dire comment réagir. N’importe si c’est un ou une centaine, la vie est hors prix, et donc la perte de vie à cause de ces actes de lâche faut être commémorés néanmoins. Mais aussi, nous devons former une société vraiment basée sur les trois principes — liberté, égalité et fraternité. Personne ne doit plus être jugé selon leur peau, langue, sexe ou religion. Que l’un est un être humain sera suffisant pour être traité avec respect, sans suspicion. Si nous pouvons intégrer tout le monde dans une société commune et leurs comprenons assez, il n’y aura pas aucune religion nous séparer ou faire se battre l’un contre l’autre. Le fait que nous sommes humains, et tout le monde sont pareils sera meilleur que n’importe quelle religion nous enseigne. 

Un pianiste inconnu joue sur piano Imagine de John Lennon devant le théâtre Bataclan (Source: YouTube)

Alors, qu’est-ce qu’on doit faire? D’abord c’est très important que nous n’oublions pas Beyrouth ou Baghdâd, quand on pense aux vies perdues. Mais Paris a nous déjà montré le chemin! Milliers des citoyens gardant vigiles, les bougies, une pianiste joue au piano devant le théâtre Bataclan — ces images envoient une message très fort aux terroristes qui essayaient de briser Paris. Paris était frappé mais répliqué dans une manière typiquement français — d’être courageux sans violence, et donc les bruit des fusillades seront submergé par la musique, la haine sera remplacé par l’amour. La violence contre la violence ne mettra pas fin à cette épidémie, et l’on doit être ferme sur garder la liberté et l’indépendance pour tous, pas seulement pour la majorité. La guerre contre le terrorisme commence maintenant avec toi et moi. Et donc, allons-y être en deuil pour Paris, pour Beyrouth, pour Baghdad…pour chaque perte de vie clamé par les mercenaires du mort. Et allons-y célébrer la vie, célébrer la joie de vivre et se moquer de l’absurdité de fanatisme religieux. Allons-y, disons «Je suis Charlie Hebdo, Je suis Paris, Je suis Beyrouth»…

La tour Eiffel pendant notre dernier visite.

La tour Eiffel pendant notre dernier visite.

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contes de fantasme, Life experience

La serrure possédée: un histoire de quasi fantasme

C’était les printemps de l’année 1997, quand j’étais étudiant d’ingénierie dans l’université, situé près des nord-est provinces d’Inde. Jalpaiguri, la ville de l’uni, est connue comme un paradis pour les gens qui aiment la nature. D’habitude, le campus fut aussi magnifique — avec un plantation de thé aux côtés nord et ouest, découpée par les chemins de fer connectant les provinces nord-est, et deux rivières argentées à l’est et l’ouest, qui roulèrent lentement chaque jour— ainsi formée la périphérie de notre campus. Les printemps, une brise légère soufflait sur Danguajhar, le plantation de thé, mais fondée centaines de kilomètres au nord, dans les forêts des Dooars — sur pas de Himalaya de l’est. Sans doute, cela fit un derrière plan tout parfait pour cet histoire de fantasme j’eus témoin, que je vais raconter. 

Au nord de notre immeuble eût une grande salle de jeux — équipée avec une télé, trois jeux de Carom, et le dernier ajout, une table de ping-pong . En face de la porte, à l’autre coin de la salle eût une petite porte, qui ouvrit dans une petite salle. Nous, les résidents du immeuble, l’appelions le News Room. Dans cette salle-là, il y avait seulement trois meubles —  une grande table et deux bancs — un à chaque coté. Deux fenêtres donnaient sur la rue vers l’immeuble pour les étudiants des année finale, et derrière la rue commença la plantation de thé — toute verte et élégante. Le News Room eût réservé pour lire les journaux quotidiens ou magazines. La salle n’ouvrait qu’entre 12:00h et 16:00h, quand les étudiants mieux sérieux de sa carrière passeraient le congé savoir les actualités autour du monde, tandis que les autres jouaient au Carom ou cartes. 

Cette année le ping-pong eut particulièrement favorite parmi les étudiants. Nous avons reçu quelque financement sportif, et donc venue une nouvelle et chique table du ping-pong. Cette année nous partagions l’auberge avec les étudiants de troisième année, et il y avait quelques règles sans être écrits, pour exemple, jouer en premier ou voir la chaîne de télé préférée. Sauf si un certain étudiant de 3ème année eut pitié des premières années attendant avec impatience, ça faisait une attente trop longue avant qu’on put jouer. Les premières années avaient de la chance après le dîner, quand les troisièmes années commençaient à retourner vers ses chambres pour étudier ou joindre les championnats des cartes. Mon colocataire Tathagata et moi, nous étions très intéressés d’apprendre ping-pong, mais l’attente semblait continuer sans fin.

Notre histoire commence un de ses soirs quand nous nous sommes dits qu’on en a eu assez et il a fallu faire quelque chose de diffèrent si nous voulions jouer. Nous avons décidé que malgré avoir la classe le lendemain, nous attendrons jusqu’à ce que les troisième années sont partis et il n’y a personne attendant ses tours.  Notre décision a finalement payé, quand vers 23:30h, la foule commença à vider la salle de jeux. Les lampes au-dessus les planches du carom ont été éteints, les planches ont été couvertes, la télé a été éteint. Peu à peu la salle devint complètement vide, sauf que quelques premières années, également passionnés comme nous d’améliorer leurs compétence de ping-pong . Après chaque jeu, on changeait la tour avec les autres groupes, mais aucun eut très précisé, et donc l’attente n’était jamais plus de dix minutes. Les dernières groupes sont retournés à ses chambres vers minuit et demi, nous laissant la chambre entièrement, faiblement éclairé par une seule lampe au-dessus de la table de ping-pong. 

Tic…toc…tic…toc…la bruit de la balle contre la batte devenait plus en plus ennuyeuse. Nos corps trop fatigués, mais tout de même nous continuions avec plein de l’esprit. La horloge semblait ennuyeuse aussi en nous montrant le temps 1:00…1:30…2:00. Toutes les fois que je gagnais l’échange, la balle sortait hors de la salle, donc Tatha est allé fermer la porte. Nous avons recommencé dans la salle tout isolé du monde au dehors, et le son a tout à fait doublé à cause de résonner contre la mur loin de la table. Nous avons déjà oublié de la class le lendemain, et comme les Zombies, comme automates contrôlés par les commandes distants, on a continué à jouer, comme si c’était le seul but de notre vie.

l’état d’ennui est enfin cassé quand Tatha, avant de servir, a hésité et arrêté pour un instant, en regardant quelque chose derrière moi. 
– Qu’est ce qui ce passe? Pourquoi tu ne sers pas?
– Je pense que j’ai vu quelque chose bouge au coin, vers la porte de News room.

J’ai tourné vers la porte, mais rien n’a aperçu par mes yeux. Nous avons rengagé en notre jeu et tout oublié trop tôt. Une autre demi-heure est passée, nous ne pouvions pas continuer pour longtemps et donc décidés de jouer trois dernières jeux, dont l’un qui gagne deux sera vainqueur. 

Pendant notre deuxième jeu, Tatha a frappé la balle forcément, que je n’ai pas pu retourner. La balle a roulé vers la coin ombreuse, ou se trouvait la télé et la porte de News room. Tout que j’ai ramassé la balle et revenais a table, j’ai regardé à Tatha et son regard m’a tout à fait étonné. Sa visage complètement blanche comme une papier, yeux froncés, en essayant regarder quelque chose derrière moi. D’habitude, à mon enfance, grâce à lire toutes les types de livres, je le trouve très facile à imaginer quelque chose de bizarres, et en avoir peur. Quand j’ai vu Tatha dans tel état, j’ai tout de suite imaginé que quelque chose d’extraordinaire va se passer devant mes yeux. Malgré la fatigue, mon corps est devenu instamment alerte et un jet de Adrénaline a retardé la passage du temps. Mon cœur battrait trop fort, j’ai demandé:
– Qu’est-ce qui se passe maintenant? Quel est le problème?
– J’ai vu la serrure bouger. Là-bas!

Il indiquait la porte de News room encore!
– Quel absurdité! Comment peut la serrure bouger quand il n’y a personne ici sauf que nous?
– Mais j’en suis sur cette fois!
– Je ne te crois pas. Peut-être tu as vu la lumière reflétant de la serrure. 

À ce moment-là, j’ai regagné ma sang-froid. Une serrure bougeant!!! j’étais au point de rire aux éclats. Pour que nous soyons surs et finissions le jeu, j’ai décidé a rentrer vers la porte de News room. En voyant le coin, quand-même, ça m’a fait un peu peur encore, avec la faible lueur de la lampe, les murs et coins mal-éclairés et ombreux – ça faisait un air très étrange et mystérieux. La serrure restait comme avant – pièce de métal sans-vie, accroché au verrou comme prévu. J’ai crié à Tatha
– Voilà, tu vois! Il n’y a rien et personne ne la bougeait. Allons-y finir ce jeu et retournons à la salle, il est trop tard.

Tatha semblait rassurée, et j’ai commencé à rentrer à la table de ping-pong. 

Soudain, Tatha cria avec un ton très effrayant, et ma sang-froid est cassée et disparue. 
– Hanu! Voir encore, ça bouge…je te dis que la porte bouge maintenant. Vois-la!

J’ai commencé à douter ma logique et croire que quelque chose de sinistre allait se passer. Mon cœur courrait trop fort mais j’essayais à avoir raison pour les évènements – pourquoi la serrure semblait bouger. 
– Qu’est-ce que ça vaut dire Tatha? Tu rigoles ou quoi? Ce n’est pas l’heure, tu sais!
– Je le jure Hanu! Là, regarde, ÇA BOUGE ENCORE!! Cours maintenant, cette porte est possédée. Il y a quelque chose de sinistre derrière la porte! Il faut fuir!

rte, en regardant curieusement la serrure. Le temps doivent s’est arrêté à ce moment-là, comme je voyais la serrure rester paresseusement contre le verrou, comme si c’est nous qui avons tort et rien ne s’est passé. Et puis ce se passait!! J’ai vu avec mes yeux-même que la serrure a commencé à bouger, et rien ne le faisait bouger. Pas seulement un tremblement soudain, la serrure a commencé a Renverser, d’abord lentement, et puis plus en plus rapide tant qu’elle a été complètement renversé avec la trou de serrure en face de moi.

Il y a des moments en ma vie que je ne pourrai jamais oublier, et n’importe quand, je me peux les souvenir sans aucune difficulté, sans perdre aucun détail. Ce moment-là, ce printemps soir a devenu un de ces moments, un moment quand j’avais peur que je n’avais jamais ressenti. Ces sont les moments quand, n’importe comment logique vous êtes, la raison sort le cerveau, et vous êtes laissé dans un état de choc et confusion. La peur. La crainte. C’était tous ce que je sentais à ce moment. Mon cœur battait trop fort comme s’il allait sortir ma poitrine. Il fallait qu’on fuissent mais comme si une force inconnue m’attrapé dans la terre. Je ne pouvais pas mouvoir mes jambes, comme s’il étaient remplis de plomb. La serrure, dans sa position défiant  la gravité, semblait d’envoyer un certain message du monde surnaturel, de fantasme au notre monde animé et la serrure était la dernier protection de l’écran – la porte de News room, entre les deux mondes. 

L’adrénaline dan mes veine a du fait ma perception temporelle extrêmement prolongée, comme tous ce moment d’un regard hypnotisé sur la serrure et sa mouvements n’a pas dure plus de dix secondes. Je suis arrive mes sens retour quand j’ai écouté Tatha crie
– Hanu, la porte est possédée. Courrons-nous à la chambre!

Ce cri m’a rapporté aux mes sens et éclaté l’état de mesmérisme. La phénomène qui m’attrapé dans ma place est levée, et je pouvais enfin mouvoir. Je me souviens que j’étais déjà croisée Tatha avant qu’il a fini sa phrase, en jetant les batte de ping-pong  sur table. Il a fallu que nous ayons fermé la porte a clé,  et avec les mains tremblants, ça  nous a fait quelques minutes, que nous ne devenions pas perdre. Je pensais que touts les temps que nous perdons, la terreur de l’obscurité et la fantasme étaient un peu plus proche de nous consommer. Se réfléchir ce moment après un vingtaine d’ans, nous étions comme les dernières lignes du chanson Hotel California, <<Last thing I remember, I was running for the door, I had to find the passage back to the place I was before>>. Au dehors de la salle de jeux, la foyer était faiblement éclairé, et il y avait une foule de bicyclettes bloquant notre chemin. Nous avons couru vers notre chambre, jetant quelques bicyclettes en route. Tout le temps on craignait quelque chose de sinistre va se passer, notre existence était en danger. Quand nous sommes rentrés dans notre chambre, nous étions au but du souffle. Nous ne pouvions pas croire ce qui s’est passé devant notre yeux-même. Le cœur battant forcement, je jouais ces événements dans mes cerveau mais malheureusement, je n’ai plus trouvé aucune explantation. La rencontre avec l’autre cotes du monde-vivant fait disparaître tous nos courage et raison. Était-il un âme perdu? Ou peut-être il y avait quelque chose d’horrible est arrivée dans cette salle de News room. Nous ne saurons jamais ce qu’il était, mais cet incident cette nuit de printemps est définitivement été gravées dans mon mémoire, même si je souhaite plutôt qu’il n’a jamais passé. Nous savions que le lendemain, quand nous raconterons notre histoire, personne ne croira notre expérience. Pourtant, nous nous souviendrons toujours ces quelques secondes qui mettent notre existence en question – notre rencontre avec l’autre côté. L’incident du «fantôme serrure» allait devenir l’un des moments les plus mémorables de ma vie, ainsi que les plus grands mystères, parce que je ne serai jamais savoir, c’était qui a levé la serrure dans l’air pour toute la durée que nous étions là. En réfléchissant la salle faiblement éclairé, le tic-tocs du ping-pong, les mosaïques inexplicables formé par l’ombre et la lueur de la lampe, une serrure bougeant – il me va toujours faire me demander, ce qui était là, derrière cette sombre porte ce soir-là? Si seulement je savais. Ou plutôt pas …

PS: En fait, il a été découvert ce qu’il était le lendemain matin. Comme prévu, notre histoire a été accueillie avec le ridicule et le mépris. À midi, une groupe des premières années alla à la porte, pour prouver qu’il était seulement notre imagination et de la superstition. Et encore une fois, en plein jour, la serrure a commencé à bouger et puis se lever … montant lentement avant tout le monde, le trou de serrure en face de leurs yeux. L’hystérie qui a suivi était incroyable. La plupart de la groupe a disparu, courant aussi vite que possible. Mais certains braves retournèrent à la porte. Précisément, a ce moment-la, le mystère dévoilé, comme ils ont remarqué que la porte mouvait. C’était le printemps Dooars brise jaillissant intérieur de News room poussant la porte. La brise a fait la porte frapper et donc bougea la serrure. Le mystère a été résolu, la salve de dérision contre nous a été quadruplé que nous n’avions pas comprendre cette simple raison. Pourtant, je me souviens de cette nuit comme il est arrivé, lorsque les lumières et les ombres jouaient avec notre cerveaux, et le manque de lumière à brouillé la ligne entre les mondes de la réalité et l’imaginaire. Peut-être il y avait quelque chose ou quelqu’un derrière cette porte ce soir-là, mais nous ne le saurons jamais. Il y était probablement si vous en croyez, ou rien si vous ne le croyez pas …
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contes de fantasme, Ghost Story, Life experience, Trilingual experiment

A trilingual experiment of a supernatural experience

It was the spring of 1997, and I was in my first year studying degree in engineering in a quaint town of Jalpaiguri in north Bengal. The campus was a nature lover’s paradise — the north and west peripheries abutted the verdant Danguajhar tea garden, two silvery rivers meandering along east and west boundaries. In spring, the soft breeze blew from the north — down from the Dooars, the hinterland of the eastern Himalayas. Nothing could provide more thrilling backdrop to the spine-chilling, bloodcurdling experience that I witnessed on that spring night, which I’m going to unfurl. 

আমাদের এক নম্বর হোস্টেলের একতলায় উত্তরের দিকে ছিল একটা বড় কমন রুম, যেখানে হোস্টেলের সবাই সময় কাটাতে আসত। কমন রুমে ছিল একটা কালার টিভি, গোটা তিন ক্যারাম বোর্ড আর সেই লিস্টে নতুন আমদানি একটা ঝাঁ চকচকে টেবিল টেনিস বোর্ড। কমন রুমের দরজার উল্টোদিকের দেয়ালে, টিভি স্ট্যান্ডের পাশে আরেকটা ছোটমত দরজা। সেই দরজার পেছনে একটা ছোট্ট ঘর, আমরা বলতাম নিউজ রুম। সে ঘরে ছিল খালি একটা দেয়াল জোড়া বড় টেবিল আর দুপাশে দু সারি বেঞ্চি। নিউজ রুমের পেছনের দেয়াল জুড়ে খড়খড়ি দেয়া জানলা, যেখানে তাকালে তিন নম্বর হোস্টেলের রাস্তা তার পর থেকে চা বাগান শুরু। নিউজ রুমটা ছিল হোস্টেলের পড়ুয়া ছেলেদের খবরের কাগজ পড়ার জায়গা। ঘরটা খোলা হতো ১২টা থেকে ৪-৫টা অবধি, শনি রবিবার আরেকটু আগে থেকে। তবে খুব বেশি লোকজন যে ব্যগ্র ছিল সারা বিশ্বের খবর জানার জন্যে তা বললে ভুল হবে। ঘরটা বেশির ভাগ সময় ফাঁকাই থাকত।

Cette année le ping-pong eut particulièrement favorite parmi les étudiants. Nous avons reçu quelque financement sportif, et donc venue une nouvelle et chique table du ping-pong. Cette année nous partagions l’auberge avec les étudiants de troisième année, et il y avait quelques règles sans être écrits, pour exemple, jouer en premier ou voir la chaine de télé préférée. Sauf si un certain étudiant de 3ème année eut pitié des premières années attendant avec impatience, ça faisait une attente trop longue avant qu’on put jouer. Les premières années avaient de la chance après le dîner, quand les troisièmes années commençaient à retourner vers ses chambres pour étudier ou joindre les championnats des cartes. Mon colocataire Tathagata et moi, nous étions très intéressés d’apprendre ping-pong, mais l’attente semblait continuer sans fin.

Notre histoire commence un de ses soirs quand nous nous sommes dits qu’on en a eu assez et il a fallu faire quelque chose de diffèrent si nous voulions jouer. Nous avons décidé que malgré avoir la classe le lendemain, nous attendrons jusqu’à ce que les troisième années sont partis et il n’y a personne attendant ses tours.  Notre décision a finalement payé, quand vers 23:30h, la foule commença à vider la salle de jeux. Les lampes au-dessus les planches du carom ont été éteints, les planches ont été couvertes, la télé a été éteint. Peu à peu la salle devint complètement vide, sauf que quelques premières années, également passionnés comme nous d’améliorer leurs compétence de ping-pong . Après chaque jeu, on changeait la tour avec les autres groupes, mais aucun eut très précisé, et donc l’attente n’était jamais plus de dix minutes. Les dernières groupes sont retournés à ses chambres vers minuit et demi, nous laissant la chambre entièrement, faiblement éclairé par une seule lampe au-dessus de la table de ping-pong. 

Tic…toc…tic…toc…tic…toc…our ears gradually got bored to the incessant din of the ping pong ball on the bat. Arms got heavier, yet high on spirit, we carried on, mastering the spinning serves or backhand smashes, and the hands of the clock on the wall nonchalantly kept telling us the time 1:00 to 1:30 to 2:00. As I stood facing the door, tired of the ball going outside the common room, Tatha shut the door and we carried on playing with same élan. We were extremely tired, yet we continued like zombies, as if we were being controlled by some remote psychomotor commands and our only aim was to keep on playing. 

আমাদের একঘেয়েমি ভাঙলো তথা সার্ভ করতে গিয়ে হঠাৎ থমকে দাঁড়ানোয়। ওর দিকে তাকিয়ে দেখলাম যে ও আমার পেছনের দেয়ালের দিকে কিছু একটা দেখছে। একে এত রাত তার ওপর সময় নষ্ট, জিজ্ঞাসা করলাম
– কিরে সার্ভ করছিসনা কেন? থামলি কি কারণে?
চোখ না সরিয়ে তথা উত্তর দিল
– মনে হলো কিছু একটা যেন নড়ছিল ঐ দরজাটার দিকে।
তথার আঙ্গুল নিউজ রুমের দরজার দিকে নির্দেশ করছে।
– ধুর ওখানে আবার কি নড়বে। পোকামাকড় হবে। 
তাই হবে। হয়ত ল্যাম্পের আলোটা কোথাও রিফ্লেক্ট করে চোখে পড়েছে। 

আবার শুরু করলাম খেলা কিন্তু ঠিক করলাম যে তিনটে গেম খেলব কে জিতবে ঠিক করার জন্যে, তারপর রুমে ফিরে যাব। 

It was halfway through our game, when Tatha smashed a winner and the ball rolled on towards the back end of the room. Just as I picked the ball up and was coming back to the table, I looked at Tatha and saw his startled face, and the frowned eyes looking behind me. By nature, I can imagine things quite easily and be scared, nevertheless  usually I still can keep my logical hat on — only real things make me afraid. Looking Tatha in such a state sent a gush of adrenalin through my blood, and my body became instantly alert to witness something out of the ordinary. My heart racing, I asked Tatha again
— what’s the matter with you now?
— I saw the lock move. 
— what nonsense. You must have seen the light reflecting on the lock. 

À ce moment-là, j’ai regagné ma sang-froid. Une serrure bougeant!!! j’étais au point de rire aux éclats. Pour que nous soyons surs et finissions le jeu, j’ai décidé a rentrer vers la porte de News room. En voyant le coin, quand-même, ça m’a fait un peu peur encore, avec la faible lueur de la lampe, les murs et coins mal-éclairés et ombreux – ça faisait un air très étrange et mystérieux. La serrure restait comme avant – pièce de métal sans-vie, accroché au verrou comme prévu. J’ai crié à Tatha
– Voilà, tu vois! Il n’y a rien et personne ne la bougeait. Allons-y finir ce jeu et retournons à la salle, il est trop tard.
Tatha semblait rassurée, et j’ai commencé à rentrer à la table de ping-pong. 

Suddenly my composure was shattered by a rather uncharacteristic raspy shout by Tatha
— HONU, I swear it just moved again! 
With a déjà vu moment, my composure disappeared again, and I started to doubt my logical self, thinking something sinister was about to happen. Goosebumps shot up all over my fatigued and sweaty body, yet I tried to run through all plausible explanations why Tatha saw the lock move. 
— what do you mean? It’s not the time for a prank you know! 
— I swear it MOVED! Oh look, IT MOVED AGAIN!!! Come away Honu, something spooky behind that door it’s trying to come out!

এটা শুনেই হাড় হিম হয়ে গেল আমার। কমন রুমে খালি আমি আর তথা দুজনেই পনের বিশ ফুট দুরে যখন তথা প্রথম বার দেখতে পেয়েছিল। তালাটা যদি নিজে নিজে নড়ে তাহলে সেটা যে ভৌতিক কান্ড তা আর বলার অপেক্ষা রাখেনা। তা সত্ত্বেও পালাবার আগে একবার দেখে নেয়ার উৎকন্ঠা সামলাতে পারলামনা। পেছন ঘুরে দাঁড়ালাম নিউজ রুমের দরজার সামনে। তালা আবার আগের মত ঝুলছে, নড়ার কোনো চিহ্নই নেই। বামুনকে খিস্তি মারব বলে ঘুরতে যাচ্ছি ঠিক সেই সময় চোখের সামনে যা ঘটল তার বর্ণনা এখনো পুঙ্খানুপুঙ্খ মনে রয়েছে। তালার থেকে আমার চোখ হয়ত পাঁচ ফুট হবে মেরেকেটে, অত কাছ থেকে ভুল দেখা সম্ভব নয়। তালাটা যেন হঠাৎ কোনো জাদুমন্ত্রে প্রাণ ফিরে পেল। প্রথমে একটু নড়ে উঠলো, তারপর তলার হুকের দিকটা কড়ার মধ্যে থাকলেও তাকে কেন্দ্র করে তালার মেন বডিটা ঘুরে উপরের দিকে উঠতে লাগলো – প্রথমে আসতে আসতে, তারপর বেশ তাড়াতাড়িই। তালা যখন থামল তার যাত্রা শেষ করে, চাবির দিকটা আমার চোখের সামনে। চাক্ষুষ একটা তালা ঘুরে নিচের দিকটা উপরে হয়ে দাঁড়িয়ে, নিউটন সাহেবের মাধ্যাকর্ষণ নস্যাৎ করে।

Il y a des moments en ma vie que je ne pourrai jamais oublier, et n’importe quand, je me peux les souvenir sans aucune difficulté, sans perdre aucun détail. Ce moment-là, ce printemps soir a devenu un de ces moments, un moment quand j’avais peur que je n’avais jamais ressenti. Ces sont les moments quand, n’importe comment logique vous êtes, la raison sort le cerveau, et vous êtes laissé dans un état de choc et confusion. La peur. La crainte. C’était tous ce que je sentais à ce moment. Mon cœur battait trop fort comme s’il allait sortir ma poitrine. Il fallait qu’on fuissent mais comme si une force inconnue m’attrapé dans la terre. Je ne pouvais pas mouvoir mes jambes, comme s’il étaient remplis de plomb. La serrure, dans sa position défiant  la gravité, semblait d’envoyer un certain message du monde surnaturel, de fantasme au notre monde animé et la serrure était la dernier protection de l’écran – la porte de News room, entre les deux mondes.

L’adrénaline dan mes veine a du fait ma perception temporelle extrêmement prolongée, comme tous ce moment d’un regard hypnotisé sur la serrure et sa mouvements n’a pas dure plus de dix secondes. Je suis arrive mes sens retour quand j’ai écouté Tatha crie
– হনু পালা। ওই ঘরে ভূত আছে।

Ce cri m’a rapporté aux mes sens et éclaté l’état de mesmérisme. La phénomène qui m’attrapé dans ma place est levée, et je pouvais enfin mouvoir. Je me souviens que j’étais déjà croisée Tatha avant qu’il a fini sa phrase, en jetant les batte de ping-pong  sur table. Il a fallu que nous ayons fermé la porte a clé,  et avec les mains tremblants, ça  nous a fait quelques minutes, que nous ne devenions pas perdre. Je pensais que touts les temps que nous perdons, la terreur de l’obscurité et la fantasme étaient un peu plus proche de nous consommer. Se réfléchir ce moment après un vingtaine d’ans, nous étions comme les dernières lignes du chanson Hotel California, <<Last thing I remember, I was running for the door, I had to find the passage back to the place I was before>>. Au dehors de la salle de jeux, la foyer était faiblement éclairé, et il y avait une foule de bicyclettes bloquant notre chemin. Nous avons couru vers notre chambre, jetant quelques bicyclettes en route. Tout le temps on craignait quelque chose de sinistre va se passer, notre existence était en danger. Quand nous sommes rentrés dans notre chambre, nous étions au but du souffle. Nous ne pouvions pas croire ce qui s’est passé devant notre yeux-même. Le cœur battant forcement, je jouais ces évènements dans mes cerveau mais malheureusement, je n’ai plus trouvé aucune explantation. La rencontre avec l’autre cotes du monde-vivant fait disparaitre tous nos courage et raison. Était-il un âme perdu? Ou peut-être il y avait quelque chose d’horrible est arrivée dans cette salle de News room. Nous ne saurons jamais ce qu’il était, mais cet incident cette nuit de printemps est définitivement été gravées dans mon mémoire, même si je souhaite plutôt qu’il n’a jamais passé. Nous savions que le lendemain, quand nous raconterons notre histoire, personne ne croira notre expérience. Pourtant, nous nous souviendrons toujours ces quelques secondes qui mettent notre existence en question – notre rencontre avec l’autre côté. L’incident du «fantôme serrure» allait devenir l’un des moments les plus mémorables de ma vie, ainsi que les plus grands mystères, parce que je ne serai jamais savoir, c’était qui a levé la serrure dans l’air pour toute la durée que nous étions là. En réfléchissant la salle faiblement éclairé, le tic-tocs du ping-pong, les mosaïques inexplicables formé par l’ombre et la lueur de la lampe, une serrure bougeant – il me va toujours faire me demander, ce qui était là, derrière cette sombre porte ce soir-là? Si seulement je savais. Ou plutôt pas …

পরিশেষ: কি ছিল দরজার পেছনে সেই রহস্যের যবনিকা উঠলো পরদিন। যেমনটা আশা করেছিলাম ঠিক তাই। যতজনকে বললাম আমাদের অভিজ্ঞতার কথা সবাই অনেক ঠাট্টা করলো। এসব নাকি ছিল আমাদের কল্পনা আর গোঁড়া কুসংস্কার। দুপুরের দিকে একদল ফার্স্ট ইয়ার আমাদের টানতে টানতে নিয়ে গেল কমন রুমে। উদ্দেশ্য প্রমান করা যে আমরা ভুল দেখেছি। আমাদের যাবার কোনো প্রবৃত্তি ছিলনা তাই পেছনে দাঁড়িয়ে রইলাম, বাকিরা প্রবল উৎসাহে দরজার সামনে দাঁড়িয়ে জরিপ করতে লাগলো চারদিক। হঠাৎ সেই ভরদুপুরে আমাদের দু জোড়া নয় একগাদা চোখের সামনে তালা আবার ওপরের দিকে ঘোরা আরম্ভ করলো। অতিউৎসাহীর দলের সেই উচ্ছ্বাস নিমেষে মিলিয়ে গেল, সবাই যে যার মত দরজার দিকে দৌড়তে আরম্ভ করলো। দাঁড়িয়ে ছিল যতদুর মনে পড়ে বিক্রম আর ডিফেন্স। ওরা খানিক পিছু হঠে আবার গেল দরজার সামনে, আর তখনি বোঝা গেল আসল কারণ। ওরা দেখল যে নিউজ রুমের দরজাটা নড়ছে, আর যতবার দরজা পেছনের দিকে সরছে তালাটা ওপরের দিকে ওঠার চেচ্টা করছে ঠেলা মেরে। এতক্ষণে বোঝা গেল দায়ী টা কে। সেটা ছিল ডুয়ার্স থেকে ভেসে আসা বাতাস – নিউজ রুমের খড়খড়ি পেরিয়ে ওই হাওয়া ঠেলা মারছিল দরজায় আর দরজার কড়া তালাকে ঠেলছিল খাড়া হবার চেষ্টায়। রহস্য সমাধান হয়ে গেল, অতি সাহসীরা আবার ফিরে এলো, পিঠ চাপড়ানো হলো সবার, আমি আর তথা হয়ে গেলাম আবার খোরাকের টার্গেট যেহেতু আমরা দুয়ে দুয়ে চার করতে পারিনি। সত্যি আর কল্পনার জগতের তফাতটা রাতের দিকে অনেক বেশি অস্পষ্ট, দিনের বেলা যা পরিষ্কার ভাবে দেখা যায়, রাতের বেলা আলো আঁধারীতে তাকেই মনে হয় ভৌতিক। মনে কিন্তু খটকাটা রয়েই গেল। সেই রাত্তিরে ওই দরজার পেছনে সত্যিই কি কেউ ছিল?  উত্তরটা মনে হয় লুকিয়ে আছে আমাদের মনের ভেতর। কেউ ছিল সে রাত্রে যদি আমরা মনে করি কেউ ছিল।  যদি মনে করি ছিলনা, তাহলে সেটা শুধু হাওয়ার খেলা।

PPS: On that night, after coming back in our room, we realised that we needed to go to the toilet, yet could not walk along the empty and dark corridor again to, nor open the grilled window to do it. So we used Rahul Singh’s bucket we borrowed the previous day for shower. If Rahul ever reads this, this is an unreserved apology for peeing in your bucket without permission, under unavoidable circumstances. 
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Ghost Story, Life experience

The curious incident of the possessed lock

It was the spring of 1997, and I was in first year studying degree in engineering in a quaint town of Jalpaiguri in North Bengal. The campus was a nature lover’s paradise — the north and west peripheries abutted the verdant Danguajhar tea garden, two silvery rivers meandering along east and west boundaries. In spring, a soft breeze blew from the north — down from the Dooars, the hinterland of the eastern Himalayas. Nothing could provide a more thrilling backdrop to the spine-chilling, bloodcurdling experience I witnessed on that spring night, which I’m going to unfurl. 

On the northern side of our first year hostel, there was a common recreation room, with a TV, a number of carom boards and the latest addition — a new table tennis board. At the far corner, a door led to a small ante room, filled with a long table and narrow benches, and large slatted windows opened up to the lush greens of the tea gardens. We used to refer it as News room, and it only opened at daytime between midday and 4 pm. At lunchtime, keen students would spend the lunch break in this room, soaking up the news around the world, to sharpen their general knowledge, whilst the other despotic ones would turn the TV on, or try a game of carom or some table tennis. 

That year, table tennis was particularly favourite, as the hostel received a sports funding, and the boarders saw a swank new table tennis board, and a number of thick rubber padded new bats. We shared the hostel with third year students, and there was an unwritten rule that they get to play first, unless some senior took pity on the eagerly waiting hapless fresher, looking dejected from the long wait. The first years started to flock around the tables after dinner, as the seniors began to go back to their rooms for coursework or bridge sessions. My roommate Tatha and I were very keen to find some time to hone our paddling skills, yet the wait seemed to be endless. 

Our story begins on one such weekday evening, when we had enough and decided to stay back, as long as it took, to play more than just one game. Our perseverance finally paid off, when, around 11:30pm, the crowd started to disperse. Lights over carom boards went out first, boards covered with dark blue jackets, then a while later TV was turned off, as the last few of the TV addicts got up to get ready for bed. Just a few more of our classmates hovered around, and taking turns after each game, we were not too disappointed. The last two or three went to bed about half past midnight, leaving us the empty common room, a dimly lit incandescent lamp just over the table tennis board — struggling to illuminate past the rickety steel chairs behind us. 

Tic…toc…tic…toc…tic…toc…our ears gradually got bored to the incessant din of the ping pong ball on the bat. Arms got heavier, yet high on spirit, we carried on, mastering the spinning serves or backhand smashes, and the hands of the clock on the wall nonchalantly kept telling us the time 1:00 to 1:30 to 2:00. As I stood facing the door, tired of the ball going outside the common room, Tatha shut the door and we carried on playing with same élan. We were extremely tired, yet we continued like zombies, as if we were being controlled by remote psychomotor commands, and our only aim was to keep on playing. 

That state of active ennui broke, when Tatha paused for a moment before serving and looked past me, and stood still. “What’s going on? Why aren’t you serving?”, I asked. Tatha paused for a moment then said, “I thought I saw something flash around that door”. He was pointing at the door to the news room. Then he said it must be the light catching something. We carried on playing and soon forgot about it. Another half hour passed, and we decided to call it a day after best of three sets. 

It was halfway through our game, when Tatha smashed a winner and the ball rolled on towards the back end of the room. Just as I picked the ball up and was coming back to the table, I looked at Tatha and saw his startled face, and the frowned eyes looking behind me. By nature, I can imagine things quite easily and be scared, nevertheless I can still keep my logical hat on — only real things make me afraid. Looking Tatha in such a state sent a gush of adrenaline through my blood, and my body became instantly alert to witness something out of the ordinary, occurring behind my back. My heart racing, I asked Tatha again
— what’s the matter with you now?
— I saw the lock move. 
— what nonsense! You must have seen the light reflecting on the lock. 

At this point, I have gained my composure back. I reasoned my thoughts, that we have been playing for a long time, with the main door to the common room shut, so no one could have come in. I looked back at the news room door and the new lock on the hasp and staple bolts. Although the dimly lit room, barely managing to illuminate the dark corners, created an eerie sight, I decided to overcome my initial fear and walked up to the door. The lock remained as it was — lifeless lump of metal, hanging from the latch as expected. Its stainless steel body throwing back some of the paltry light coming from the lamp over the table tennis board. I shouted back at Tatha “see there’s nothing here, the lock did not move! Let’s just have this game and get back to the room”. Tatha looked reassured as well. So I started walking towards the board, trying to reconvene where we left the game.

Suddenly my composure was shattered by a rather uncharacteristic raspy shout from Tatha
— HONU! I swear it just moved again! 

With a déjà vu feeling, my composure disappeared again, and I started to doubt my logical self, thinking something sinister was about to happen. Goosebumps shot up all over my fatigued and sweaty body, yet I tried to run through all plausible explanations why Tatha saw the lock move. 
— what do you mean? It’s not the time for a prank you know! 
— I swear it MOVED! Oh look, IT MOVED AGAIN!!! Come away Honu, something spooky behind that door it’s trying to come out!

Spooky and I don’t get along very well, yet out of indomitable urge to know what’s going on, rather than running away, I took a few steps back towards the news room door, curiously watching the lock. Time must have stood still at that moment, as I saw the lock still lying limp on the door latch…and then it happened! I stood a metre away from the door, and right in front of my eyes, the lock started to move! Not just an odd shake, it started to turn upwards. Its shackle still fastened through the staple part of the latch, the lock turned upwards — first slowly, moving only millimetres, then much faster — until it turned completely upside down, when it stopped with the keyhole facing me.

There are moments in my life, which I will never forget, and can reminisce any time without a chance of that memory fading away, and that was the moment the most scared I ever felt. These are the moments, where logic bids adieu scratching its head as it had no explanation, leaving the witness in a state of utter shock and fear. Fear. That’s was all I could feel was engulfing me rapidly, the molten fear running through my veins, my heart trying to burst apart in anticipation of what’s happening next. My limbs felt all numb, even if I knew my mind is telling me to run, my legs felt as if they were filled with lead. Transfixed at the gravity defying position of the lock, at that moment of time, it seemed that the lock is trying to send some message to the animate world from the supernatural, and it was the last bastion that’s protecting the barrier that was the news room door, between the dead and the undead. 

The adrenaline in my blood must have made my perceptions of time extremely prolonged, as all that feeling and moments of mesmerised gaze on the lock didn’t last more than five seconds, when I got my senses back by Tatha’s scream
— Honu, come away from that door! It’s haunted. RUN NOW!!!

That shout broke me free of the spell that phenomenon I just witnessed cast over me. Before Tatha could finish his sentence, I was running off, throwing the table tennis bats on the board. We had to turn all the light off, despite fearing the darkness will swallow us, and had to lock the common room door — fumbling with the keys with shaking hands.  Outside, we were met with dimly lit foyer, strewn with the boarders’ bicycles. We ran to our room, throwing a few cycles along the way, along the dark corridor, still fearing something through the darkness would just grab my ankles. Entering our room, we bolted the door in all possible combinations and pressed our ears against the door, if they could pick up any faint movement in the corridor. Our encounter with the other side left us completely sapped of energy, courage or reason. My heart pounding incessantly, I kept running through the events that unfolded right in front of my eyes over and over, yet found no explanation to the moment of paralysing fear I just experienced. May be it was some lost soul trying to find its way back to the living world, may be there was something terrible happened in the News room ages ago? May be it was those spirits of murdered people in the tea garden or the paddy fields, who glide over the eerie tea gardens on moonlit nights. We will never know who or what it was, but that incident on that spring night has permanently been etched in my mind, although I rather wish it never happened to me. At that very moment Tatha and I both stood dumbfounded, without any answer. All we knew is, that the next day when we tell our story, we will become a laughing stock, no one will believe our bloodcurdling experience. Yet, we will always remember those few seconds that put our existence in question — our encounter with the other side. The incident of “phantom lock” would become one of the most memorable yet frightening moments of my life, as well as the biggest mysteries, because I will never fathom out, who or what it was that lifted the lock in the air and held it up for all the duration we were there. Reminiscing of the dimly lit common room, the tic-tocs of the table tennis, the inexplicable mosaics formed by the light and shadow from the lamp and amid that background, a moving lock — it always made me wonder, what was there behind that dark News room door that night? I wish I knew. I only wish. Or rather not…

PS: In fact it was discovered what it was the next morning. As predicted, our story was met with ridicule and disdain. At lunchtime, finally a troupe of classmates went to the door, to prove that it was only a figment of our imagination and boorish superstition. And yet again, in broad daylight, the lock began to move…slowly rising up before everyone could see the keyhole right in front of their eyes. The hysteria that followed was deafening. Most of the disbeliever band was dispersed, running as fast as they can. But some brave ones stepped back and then went back to the door again. It was just then the mystery unveiled, as they noticed the door was moving. It was that spring Dooars breeze gushing inside the News room through the slatted windows and pushing the door. The hasp of the latch was moving, pressing the lock to move with it. The mystery was solved, backs patted, the salvo of derision against us was quadrupled that we didn’t figure out this simple causality. Yet I will remember that night as it happened, when the lights and shadows played games with our mind, and the lack of daylight smudged the defined line between the worlds of reality and fantasy. May be there was something else behind that door that night, but we will never know. There probably was if you believe there was, or nothing if you don’t believe…

PPS: On that night, after coming back in our room, we realised that we needed to go to the toilet, yet could not walk along the empty and dark corridor again, nor open the grilled window to do it. So we used Rahul Singh’s bucket we borrowed the previous day for shower. If Rahul ever reads this, this is an unreserved apology for peeing in your bucket without permission, under unavoidable circumstances. 
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