1 A week or two back the Gulshan market was shut down by the City Corporation. For a couple of days the market was full of darkened shuttered shops looking like a corpse of a market that once was. And then they did something more definite. They walled up the entire market with tin or board or something which must have been quite an effort. Nothing is on view anymore.
In fact it has disappeared the entire market and nothing really exists except in the memory of the occupants and the users. It has been erased is possibly the best description. Just as it was a market with a notice to close down by the Corporation was ignored, the act has also ended the livelihood of a few thousand. Living as we do in a state where practically anything goes and is considered the most tolerant of, this sudden burst of civic sense and citizen's safety is already asking questions.
On my daily walks, I go past the dead market which has become a new sight and the old has departed. It's interesting how shops define so much of us in an urban society. The first cluster of shops was where my main Bkash man was. He would also repair my old button phone regularly and would be regularly missing when the prayer class came. The place was the commercial hub of the area at the retail level and everyday millions of taka were received and sent. It's now all gone and one wonders what happens to the customers and clients.
This was followed by the snacks shops where I bought my chanchur and Bangla cakes and occasional cokes and cookies. The number of people with whom one can converse while buying is gone and that's what I miss most.
At the end of the line came the more formal looking shops facing the Navana building leading to the DCC market. It's here that the medicine shops were and for a chronically ill like me that provided assured and confidence of getting the meds that I need every month. It never ran out and provided quality stuff free from compromised quality. Those are gone and with it, a major source of medicine for many in the area.
Once one passed the shops, one entered the open space of the DCC market which was one of the most energetic spaces of them all in the city. They were centered on a dozen or a few more makeshift stalls, van-shops and stands. The biggest crowd was in front of the snack vans where hundreds came and thronged, eating traditional deep fries, tasting fuchka-halim in the next space or masala -dosa after that stand or chala batura or jhal muri and so on.
It was an eclectic middle class crowd where they could have an airing with the family or bf/gfs or just alone. Many bought and took the snacks home in a "parcel" as they were called. Many shoppers at the DCC market could stop for a munch and then with their packets go home. There were fruit and flower vendors along with garments shirts and clothes vendors offering a fun market without being expensive. But on the day the Gulshan market was shut down, so were they though not really a part of it.
The market was gone like refugees but slowly a tiny humbled few have returned so to speak sitting with tiny shelves stacked against the boarded tin walls, some offering BKash, some clothes and a few other services. In total they wouldn't be a dozen though once they were in the hundreds. It's as if a tsunami has wiped them out and one or two have started to return and live among the debris the disaster has left behind as there is no other option left.
Only a couple of days back while walking near the main DCC market looking for an electric item inside, I saw that the narrow space just behind the DCC market slowly began to fill up with a few of the refugee shops. I went to look and found my Bkash man with a small table. I found the snacks van but with very few snacks many days old. Earlier they would be cooking next to the van and serving fresh, today, they stood adrift and uncomfortable without a smile.
I have not only worked with refugees but came from a family of one. I know how howling vulnerable and helpless one feels. And they are so few in number compared to the large community they once were so they have very little chance of survival. It's like watching a group of natural disaster survivors huddle desperately together when most were dead and they were the last few who were still alive but had no chances to survive either.
I plan to visit till they disappear altogether. Just a person on a death watch.
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