I have spent many nights thinking about whether situation changes people or whether people can change their situation. People can change the situation – just as it is true that a situation can change people completely too. But it is not an easy task to leave situations that drag one towards the brink of a new world. There are many people who can’t handle that, and in the eyes of society, they are considered to be weak people. And those who can, will they all be happy at the end of the day? Maybe you or some others can, but everyone’s story is different.
The life I am living right now is the life I never wanted. Not that I’m not doing well: I’m alive – that’s satisfying. But there is always a pain inside the chest. The brain tells me that metaphorically I am getting smaller and smaller. I’m not in a crisis of existence, but my sigh often takes me back to my past. Even though I am not a person who holds on to the past, the memory hurts me because it was not normal and easy for me to leave the country. But from this harsh reality, I am slowly becoming a hardcore critic. Criticism has spread from Asia to Europe.
I came to Germany in Europe from a small but corrupt and backward country in Asia that was poisoned and terrified by the aggression of religion. Although the first year of my arrival in Germany under the Hamburg Stiftung Scholarship was excellent, I eventually became acquainted with reality. Just as there is no value in Germany without the German language, it is inconceivable to develop oneself without the language. Learning a language with which I had no connection was not an easy task for me. Everyday situations can be handled with English, but without the German language, self-improvement, and knowledge about things like art, literature, and culture is impossible. So, learning a language is as practically painful as it is emotionally painful. German words are very difficult to pronounce, and word formation, grammar, and many other aspects of the language are complex. There are many people who have failed to learn the language even after living a long life in exile. Many have even given up. So it is assumed that this is happening to many bloggers. Although they love Germany, many are failing to master the German language and are reluctant to do so due to fear of the language. As a result, many are mentally fighting with themselves.
Coming to Europe, it is apparent that the attachment Germans and French have towards their native languages is very intense. It is natural to have an interest and love for one’s own language, but language is a means of showing strength, and in this case, Germans and French understand their politics well. Despite the proud history of our Bengali language movement, there is no love, compassion, and purity for language among our Bangladeshi people. There are very few histories that we are proud of, and gradually we have forfeited those that mattered. There is nothing left to say about accuracy, clarity, and relevance regarding this anymore. We are proud of what we do not have; we are ashamed of what we have.
The number of people in our country is about 160 million, and at present, about 300 million people in the world speak Bengali as a language. Bengali ranks fifth among the common languages. But why isn’t research being done in our country? It is difficult to allocate funds for research in our country. In the absence of quality higher education and independent accomplishments in Bangladesh, creative students are not coming out of our universities as researchers. Proficiency in two languages is most important for research. And this void is not being filled in our country. As a result, we all have to wait for the discovery, opportunities, and decisions of the developed world. Bengali language, culture, and literature are being studied and researched in the universities of United Kingdom, United States, India, and Germany. Additionally, research on Bengali language and culture is conducted in universities of more than 30 countries including Poland, Russia, Sweden, Denmark, France, Czech Republic, Canada, Russia, Australia, China, Japan, Malaysia, Thailand, and Singapore. Although many Bengali researchers from West Bengal can be found in the universities of all these countries, the number of researchers from Bangladesh are few. This is very frustrating.
Is it true that Europe is so beautiful, peaceful, trouble-free, and liberal as it looks to be from afar? One can safely say that Europe is relatively secure compared to other continents. But one cannot say that there is no aggression in Europe. The rise of the right-wing party is not only happening in Asia or Africa or America, but also in Europe Peace prevails in several European countries, but they completely fail to perform their duties properly. Corruption, opportunism, and conspiracy might be behind this disappointment. Perhaps the European Union is under disguise. In that guise, Europe means democracy, Europe means human rights, and Europe means non-racism toward immigrants and refugees.
Are all European countries really like that?
Does every country in Europe follow democratic rules?
Not at all.
Doesn’t the right-wing party rise in Europe?
Of course it does.
Apart from nationalism, oppression in the name of religion also exists in Europe, especially when connected to skin color or language. The political picture in Hungary, Austria, Poland, Romania, and Italy is terrible.
A few years back, Hungary formally declared war on the refugees. The Viktor Orbán government declared, “Anyone who helps the refugees with food will be subject to criminal offenses.” Followers of Hitler’s ideology have been associated with the politics of each of these countries. My journey has not been easy, whether in Asia or in Europe. In 2018, I was supposed to go to Budapest to study at Central European University – a university based in Vienna and Budapest with students from over 100 countries – but was indirectly a victim of Viktor Orban’s xenophobic policies such as the Hungarian Penalty Tax for the offense of promoting illegal migration. I was homeless or obdachloss for more than three months in 2018.
Although Germany’s banned ‘nascent forces’ have not been able to do anything publicly, their successors have already begun to occupy the political arena under a different name. A fierce political party like the AFD is now beginning to gain popularity in Germany. Denmark has long refused to accept immigrants, refugees, and Muslims. The subtle racism and inequality that exists in these European countries are no secret. And people are discussing, criticizing, and even protesting about this. But no one responds to racism in our country. This is the difference between Europe and Asia. These things make me even more depressed.
The cruel reality of this meaningless life has turned me into a pessimist. “You have to survive”, “You have to see the end”, ” You have to give the test” — these kinds of statements are an expression of medieval thinking. Some may want to see the light at the age of eighty, while others may want to go to sleep forever at the age of sixteen or thirty. We have to survive, we have to struggle, we have to reach the goal — these are baseless sentiments. Life is the same, and everyone’s success in life is different.
The solution is also different. No one else is encompassed perhaps. One day I will no longer exist. I won’t know if I lived my life in vain in this mortal world. At the time of my death, I may suffer, or maybe not.
I don’t know how people feel at the time of death! I will never know. Do people realize that they are relinquished like the ashes of a cigarette? Even that I don’t know. There is no happiness in death, no possibility of getting anything new, no experience; there is only darkness. And this darkness has a beginning but no end. Life is a minor, turbulent yet restless ray of an existence.
Life is irrational and meaningless. But life is like a beautiful, wonderful, clear, and flawless fragrant flower. The peace that comes from reading a book, the philosophy that comes from expressing one’s opinion: these are only possible in this life.
After trying hard to make one’s life meaningful in this meaningless life, a sudden thunderbolt will end this life. Whatever attainment there was in a life or whatever the pursuit as – it will vanish with death. Life is one, but stories are innumerous. Death is but the end of the taste of a wonderful meaningless life imprisoned in the fire of illusion. This galaxy, this world, this life, this realm is not someone’s gift. Nor is death or destruction or annihilation directed by anyone. Imagination frightens people, weakens them, teaches them to deny the reality, and teaches them to believe the unreal. But faith can become shattered into pieces. Confidence and trust are very powerful, but trust makes people indifferent. Wisdom, on the other hand, makes people political and lonely.
Ananya Azad is living in Austria, has an MA in Human Rights, and is a student of Central European University.