Nahian Jamal Jayeeta, Student, Dhaka-Bangladesh
She points to the setting sun in front of us. Then, balancing her phone between my arm and the hood of the rickshaw to a photographic position, she blurts, “I must take this shot for my Instagram. It is no-filter worthy!”
My eye glides from her screen to the scenery ahead. True, the sky was steered clear of ashy clouds, replaced by a lilac balayage on the orange hue. It was nothing short of a pictureperfect moment; it was as though it hadn’t rained 20 minutes ago and the soaked streets were just bluffing.
Dhaka City may not be widely known for pink sunsets on a daily basis with streets cleaner than fresh bed-sheets, but we dwellers find satisfaction in the monsoon showers, rare balayage evenings and cheap, short rickshaw rides. It’s surreal, how we hate the exact things that we love about our city and I guess that’s what home really is like- you don’t fit in, you just blend.
I let my vision flow: dreary eyed teenagers walking home from school, rickshaw-pullers greasy from the heat and sweat, frustrated travelers in the cars trailing long hours of congestion, cafes lining the pavements, buzzing with laughter of cheery friends, couples and family members. No one’s talking, but the noise is inevitable; screeching bells, impatient horns, and irritated sighs- this might all seem comical if you’re a watcher; but with our clothes sticking to our body and a unified pool of body odor reeking through the streets on a daily basis, it’s a wonder we don’t lose our sanity.
I feel a light breeze across my face as the apartments buildings rise in silhouettes around us. The rickshaw has finally started moving and the friend beside me is drooping. Soon we will be back in our air-conditioned boxes of 1700 sq. ft. We will soon confine ourselves in the humdrum of our TV, computer and mobile screens; soon the comfortable silence will be replaced by too many conversations, some meaningful, and the rest in search of a place in the world. The Earth isn’t round, it’s perhaps a cuboid. Our vehicle comes to a halt, my friend waves me goodbye, and I plug my earphones on; I see the time, 20 more minutes before I, too, become just a name and a picture to go with it. 20 minutes, while I can still feel presence of life around me- 20 minutes, while eye contacts and spoken words matter.