Monday, May 25, 2009




Thursday, May 7, 2009


Dear friends, colleagues, fellow militants and activists,

Augusto Boal, one of the most valiant people of his times, has - as a friend of ours said - become one of our ancestors. He has fought until the very last moment to keep his spirit alive, just as he has fought against oppression for so many decades. "I won't be dead unless people forget" says a song. In Augusto's case, this means he will live forever. For the most, he will live in the spirit of those who work with the Theatre of the Oppressed, which he introduced and expanded every time, and usually ahead of his time. We are only beginning to understand what power lies in Theatre of the Oppressed and how it can deeply affect global society. We are only beginning to understand what Augusto Boal has created, but we can only come to understand it by using his creation in practice. By continuing the work he did, we can sincerely commemorate his achievements. We hope this message is resounded across the globe.

Many of you have already reacted to Augusto Boal's death by sending emails to ITO or to other websites. We decided to create a space on where anyone can leave a condolence message to us all or to someone in particular. This condolence registry can be accessed through, the messages can be read through

The ITO website will update you on the latest developments on the planned Memorial Day activities. Please check regularly if urgent messages are issued, you will be informed through this mailing list.

Although we are filled with sadness, we believe we should take up whatever strength we have and increase the intensity of the work we are doing. The best way to remember Boal is to remember his fighting spirit. To look for peace, not passivity and to have the courage to be happy.

In solidarity,

The 20th Century Thespian

Augusto Boal (1931 - 2009)

It is with deep sadness that we acknowledge the death of Braziliantheatre director and founder of the "Theatre of the Oppressed" (TO),Augusto Boal. In the early hours of May 2, 2009, the world experiencedthe passing of a visionary theatre artist, activist and educator.

Boal's passionately theatrical spirit and his uncompromisingcommitment to human rights, combined with an infectious sense of play,spread the ideas and practice of TO around the world.

Boal leaves a rich legacy of innovation in theatre and socialactivism, books, articles, and inspired hearts and minds. As ChrisVine, a friend and colleague from NY wrote upon hearing this sad news,"...we are all grateful for the lives Boal had touched, inspired andlinked together artistically, politically and personally, transcendingtime and distance."

To me, personally, he was an inspiration, a mentor, a colleague and abeloved friend. No more fiery emails back and forth, Augusto? This isso hard to contemplate. You will always be a welcome "Cop in my Head".Thank you for so much.

Messages have been posted on the International Theatre of theOppressed (ITO) website from Adrian Jackson, a TO practitioner andtranslator of Boal's books, andBárbara Santos, on behalf of the Centre of the Theatre of theOppressed (CTO) Rio. Access Bárbara's message by clicking on the imageof Boal in the upper right of the home page. A condolences registry,where you can leave your thoughts, is available by clicking inside the"interventionsw link of Adrian's message.

On behalf of all of us at Headlines, our condolences to the Boalfamily, CTO Rio, the global TO community, and all. Boal touched thelives of so many.

David Diamond Artistic Director, Headlines Theatre, Vancouver BC, Canada Headlines Theatre323 - 350 East 2nd AveVancouver British Columbia V5T 4R8Canada

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Oi Andhakar Ase
(The Dark Sounds)
A novel by Anisur Rahman
How can be the thing be recovered? Shala is indeed mad. Whenever he receives a phone call, he tells he is in England. Otherwise he does not receive any call. Sometimes on receiving a call, he says, ‘If you can, file a case with the police against me… ’
While entering into the room, Alauddin finished the words and breathed hard. Changing breath he said, ‘I am in great trouble.’
‘What has happened to you?’ I asked.
‘I am telling you about my landlord. He removed us with a one-day notice. Now he has kept my things. Most of the time he is not receiving phone calls. If once he takes a call, he speaks only to talk ill of something.’
Is none else there at his home?
No. The guy is over sixty; he separated from his wife, has no contact with his children.
Ah, the bad guy is a drunkard. He used to make chaos for nothing. They reported him to the police. The court has barred him from keeping any contact with his wife and children. If he denies this decree, the police will pick him up.
Is that so?
Yes, Abdul Bhai. This is Sweden. And that is why I cannot do anything against him. If it were Bangladesh, I would have torn him apart.
Have patience. I think, he has drunk so much — he is perhaps in deep stupor. When he recovers, you will see everything is normal in him. Then you need not be worried of your things.
I understand. But, if he does not return the things, what can I do?
I got a little bit irritated at his words and said whatever you think and wish, you do yourself.
Though he received my phone call once yesterday, today that dirty guy is not taking my call. I went to his house several times, pushed the calling bell many times. But, no response. He was either inside his house or not, it could not be guessed. If he were dead inside his house and I would call the police that would be suicidal for me. Police will rather pick me up. Then that will be an unexpected trouble for me. It would be troublesome either way and I would lose every chance.
Be quiet and sleep. Let’s think of it tomorrow.
Here Alauddin’s little introduction is to be noted. He was in Japan for ten years. Then he came to Sweden with the help of a broker. He has arranged his permission showing a paper marriage with a lady for one million Taka. He works for a Japanese restaurant called Sushi Bar in Stockholm. Two days ago he was evicted from his rented apartment, then he took shelter in our room. On that night, returning home, I found him sleeping at our room. Before this, I saw him once or twice in Stockholm and had a little interaction. After staying one month or so, he will move for another destination. I myself have no more information about Alauddin.
A parcel has come in my name from my country, I mean Bangladesh. I have to go to Visätra to collect it. The postal system here is little bit different from that of Bangladesh. A network of the postal department with grocery or confectionery chain shops runs the postal services. In case of parcel or registered letter, a receipt from the nearby grocery or confectionery chain shop concerned will reach the recipient. Showing this receipt along with his own Swedish identity card, he can collect his parcel or registered letter. But my problem is that I have no Swedish identity card. I have just applied for permanent residency here. I have an LMA card issued by the Migration Board for the time being featuring my photo on it. In one sense, it is an identity card. In another sense, it is nothing. It can be called a ledger reference for the Migration Board. Or it can be called a pass for getting Medicare as it has no personal number. In Sweden this number is mandatory for every deal in life.
Once even showing my LMA card I could not collect my own letter. At last , with the help of Kumra, my friend, who is few years junior to me, but his physical growth is so heavy, that we call him "Kumra", a kind of pumpkin. His real name is Abdul Hamid Khan Chowdhury. I along with him went to the shop and showing Kumra’s identity card, I collected my letter. That is why I am taking Alauddin along with me for getting my letter.
My phone rings. I pick up the receiver and can hear from the other side, ‘I am Jomshed speaking.’
Yes, Jomshed bhai?
Where are you now? Let’s go to the library to do some chatting.
I got irritated, though I controlled myself little and said, ‘I am going to the Post Office to collect a letter. Have you ever visited a library? There is no chance to do chatting in libraries. Moreover, I have a computer at my college office in Dhaka, I had computer at my home in Dhaka. I never have done chatting. To chat is not anything bad. It is simply talking online for hours after hours. I am not fond of it and I do not need to do it. Whenever you talk to me, you raise this. It is not justified.’
Why are you so hot today?
--I am not hot. What do you want to tell me, please say it.
What is the news of your journalist?
--I have not been in touch with him recently.
I asked him to publish a report of my brother’s participation in the election.
--When I talk to him, I will remind him.
How many hours did you work this month?
--Eighty to ninety hours
The month is over. Today is the 4th. Have you not yet counted?
--I will do it soon.
Listen to me, I don’t care what you have been doing!
--‘I will submit it on Monday, I will count the working hours before that.’ Though I was angry, I did not expose it.
Jomshed Miah again started, ‘I am telling you something. Listen carefully.’
Bangladesh’s eminent economist and Rabindra singer M Anisur Rahman used to teach us Economics at the Islamic University. Then the university was shifted from Gazipur to Kushtia. One day, one of our friends took a budding singer to introduce her to Anisur Rahman sir.
Sir addressing the girl said, ‘Like you there are many singers helter skelter in Karwanbazar, Dhaka. You first concentrate on your studies.’
‘You told me this same story once before. You are telling me again. What does it mean? Please listen to me. For my study and writing, I could come to Sweden. Now I am in trouble and applied for residency. If I get it, it is okay. Otherwise what will be, will be.’
Let me give an introduction about Jomshed Miah as he will appear on many occasions in my story. This Jomshed Miah speaks excessively – far more than required. But the man is really a good soul, hospitable and doing good to others. In his absence some call him ‘Thick tailed Mofiz.’
Jomshed Miah is ten years older than I am. His father was a famous moulana. In his early stage he studied at Madrassahs. He has done his Dakhil (Matriculation) and Alim (Higher Secondary) from Madrassahs. He became the superintendent of a madrassah at very young age. Later he got admission in Accounting Department at the Islamic University. He has also done his Kamil graduation from Madrassah board. During his university days, he was involved in student politics. He became vice president of a students’ organisation against the Islamic Chaatra Shibir, a pro Jaamat-e-Islami Bangladesh. His elder brother is a big leader in the Awami League. Jomshed Miah came to Sweden using another’s visa in 1990. He was deported in 1994. After five years he could come to Sweden again through his wife. Prior to this, his wife came to Sweden, this northern land, by becoming a spouse on paper.
Jomshed Miah is now a famous cook in Stockholm. This is his curriculum vitae. His appearance will be covering many aspects in our tale.
‘Are you very busy?’ My wife Urboshi’s SMS.
‘No, I am not busy. It is late night now. Have you not yet slept?’ I responded to her by sending this SMS.
‘My sleep has been disrupted as a mosquito bit me.’
At this, I just went back to Dhaka for a while in my mind. There is a saying in my country, ‘Flies by day, mosquitoes at night, we are living in Dhaka among all these.’
Is it the normal Dhaka or is urban life crowded with flies and mosquitoes? One can add more to these – power disruption, traffic jam, automobile horns — blaring as long as the traffic is alive. Dhaka is a composite of all these.
There are no such things in Stockholm. Everything here is run by design and according to switches. And time is set by the watch. Trains and buses will follow hands of the clock. One can imagine such scenes in Dhaka after fifty years or so. #
ENDING . . .
I have no sleep. I have no hunger. I have no work. I have no relief too. I have restlessness. I have no place to go. I had a shelter with Nabanita. She has gone to Spain. I had a friend Henrik. He has gone to Belarus on a official visit. It is uncertain when he will return. I had a friend Maria. She is now in Egypt. Her return too is uncertain. Azar is in Germany, Firat is in Denmark, Sinikka is in Paris, Clara is in Finland. All have gone abroad for their own purpose – in the winter vacation. It has been clear to me, everything is over. I can recollect a childhood memory at our village home. When a blind beggar used to visit our home for alms, my mother arranged some rice, some red chillies and some coins on a winnowing fan or kula made of bamboo strips for separating the husk from the rice. The blind beggar would be seated on the other side of the main gate of our house. The blind beggar took the kula with a smile and kept it before him. Then he prayed for our health and fortune.
‘The expulsion of evil spirit is in Ali’s hands,
the arrow is in Fatema’s hands.
The evils and troubles go back the same way
you have come.’
My situation is the same. The way I have come, I have to be deported.
I took many sleeping pills and slept. I am dreaming a dream. A new government has taken the power. I have got temporary release from the police. From Dhaka University campus, I along with my writer friend Sheikh Firoz Ahmad, am going to Nirob Hotel on a rickshaw. When our rickshaw has come near the International Mother Language Day Monument, we witness a sudden attack on our rickshaw.
Catch the bad guy.
Beat the bad guy.
I cannot understand anything. I am not saying anything.
They are copping me.
I can hear-
Naraye Taqbir
Allahu Akbar
Beat the bad guy
Catch the bad guy
I can hear
We are all Taliban
The Bengal will be Afghan
I gasped for breath
My sleep disrupted
I begin to tremble
My trembling does not last for long.
Taking sleeping pills, I go to bed. Nights are over one by one in illusion, in bad dreams in bad thinking and in disillusion.
Is there any end to bad dreams? On some one nights, snakes come to me extending their hoods. I am running away from the snakes, but they are mostly close to my feet. Further a python coming towards me is blocking my way.
I see I have come quite far from the snakes.
The snakes target my daughter. My daughter Tuntuni is shouting,
Save me Baba (Papa)
Don’t be afraid, I am coming Mamma.
I am running towards the snake, running and running
I continue running and the way continues to be long.
This is the second week of January 2009. Knowing about my deportation to Bangladesh, Urboshi has written me a letter.
Dear Karim,
I know you are not happy at all at your end. There is no cause too to be well in such a situation. I am not well too.
I am writing this letter for a particular need. I could even tell you over phone. I avoided this willingly as it would be a difficult moment for both you and me. I have decided after deep thinking it is time to choose my own destination considering the future of your daughter Tuntuni and my own.
I do not want to be the Winnie Mandela, wife of Nelson Mandela. Whatever happens in your life, my best wishes will always be with you. If you are alive, we will definitely see each other.
You know the man, Firoz Shahid Khan. For many years he was waiting for me. He has returned from Australia after completing his PhD.
Love for you,
I was not prepared for such a letter. I was truly mentally shocked. But I started to feel instantly relieved as if negative and negative was making it positive for me. It is good for Urboshi as she got a good way out, Tuntuni will definitely get a safe shelter. And, I myself perhaps will survive as a dead river in their life.
Tomorrow morning I would be deported. I went out to see Stockholm for the last time. Right now all of Stockholm is covered with snow. Sweden has become white. At snowfall, her trees, soil, stones, roads, homes, buildings, streets, all have got covered with white snow. She is a white Sweden. Her past has got covered by snow, her days and ways to future is also covered by snow. I come back home walking over snow.
I am mentally free today. I will cook hotchpotch and egg-omelette. After my dinner, I went to bed and slept while reading Humayun Azad’s novel Shobkhichu Bhenge Pore (Everything has collapsed).
I dream a dream.
I am at the airport in Dhaka. I am being taken to cantonment in police cordon.
My daughter Tuntuni along with her grandfather was standing on the other side of the grill at the airport. I can hear Tuntuni’s grandfather is telling her, ‘You see that is you father.’
Instantly Tuntuni started to call me and is shouting
I am running, Police are pulling me back.
I run away suddenly and forcefully from the police and attempt to run to Tuntuni. My head gets pushed against the wall, my sleep gets disrupted, I wake up.
What am I lying on? I cannot understand.
Am I lying in a room in Dhaka or Stockholm?

Impressions on "Bleeding Heart": A Novel by Balamanoharan

There is a scene in “Bleeding Hearts” where the protagonists, grandfather and grandson embark on what they see as an ingenious scheme to trap the mighty bull they are on a hunt for. While the plan looks foolproof during their discussion, their quarry proves too clever for their plot and escapes. If there is an episode in the story that is more reflective of the theme that pervades the book – that dreams rarely become reality – I am unaware of it. Different people who read the story will find that they see different themes; to me it was about the unreliability of dreams.

The book is not political; it is not a preachy morality tale that shoves a message down the throats of the readers. The messages are subtle, drawn through a creation of life in an earlier era. Readers who have never experienced the village life in Ceylon will be fascinated with the world created by Mr Balamanoharan. The characters are content with the simplicity of their lives, yet in that tiny sphere they have problems that are as daunting as can be. As a matter of fact, most of the best passages in the book are the ones that give us a taste of what it is like to inhabit their world. The iguana hunting and prawn catching sequences in particular were absolutely delightful. I read them with a smile, knowing I was mesmerized.

Vinasiyar, the main protagonist of the tale and its most interesting character, lives in a remote hamlet with his wife. He is larger-than-life, the unofficial leader of the tiny village and the man everybody seems to look up to. The character’s seemingly flawless strength and courage often run the risk of making him stereotypical, but the author does a good job of moving the story in ways that make us overlook that. I found his wife, Sinamma, much less interesting, her unquestioning obedience to her husband made it clear very soon that she was not going to be a big part of the story. It is mentioned more than once that she secretly pines to live with her daughter; it could have been an interesting subplot to explore. On the other hand, perhaps Vinasiyar and his obsessions were interesting enough for both of them.

The other protagonist is their grandson Sena. Not on the same league of Vinasiyar as an exciting character, but a decent one nonetheless. The story’s parallel plot is his romance with a young Sinhalese girl called Nantha, his pretty and innocent neighbour. The romance was handled well in some scenes, though for the most part I thought the excessive metaphors and descriptions robbed some of the realism away. Yet, their love is indispensable for the story and one cannot deny that in the bigger scheme of things, lends a lot of punch to the book’s overall impact.

Sena is a strong character, a younger version of his grandfather but not as acquainted with nature and softened by a more comfortable life in the village his parents live in. He sees his grandparents only on weekends. Little is mentioned about his relationship with his parents, it is obvious that Vinasiyar’s hamlet is where his thoughts lie. Nantha on the other hand, is typical and naïve, what Sinamma would probably have been like in her younger days. It is her world that seems to have faced the most devastation when the story comes to a close. Here again the author displays his skill by taking a character who can easily plunge into stereotype and successfully making her sympathetic and likeable. The theme of the book that I expressed earlier, the shattering of dreams, is expressed through her despair magnificently.

There are other characters filling the story. The fiery young Tamil frustrated with the lack of success peaceful protests have met with; the humanist teacher who tries to persuade people that non-violence should not be abandoned but knows within himself that it soon will be; Nantha’s father who loves the Tamil community but is forced to make a painful decision in the end; these secondary characters play a vital role in elevating the book into something bigger than the sum of its parts.

Finally, there is the bull, the mighty Kaladiyan. Being a bull, it obviously has no dialogue but none is necessary. The less said about this unique character the better, save that the main plot of the book is its clash with Vinasiyar. One is on a quest for survival and the other on a vow to hunt the adversary down.

I will not reveal the story, for it is the interplay between these characters that provides the joy of reading Bleeding Hearts. All that can be said is that by the time the book ends, all their dreams are lost. Politics and ethnic conflicts on other parts of the island come to haunt these people who have had no part to play in them. Some readers may feel the ending was rushed and indeed it is. But it also lends the closing passages of the story an urgency that makes the drama more powerful. The unmistakeable message is that a man’s life is not necessarily the result of his character; that often the world around him can plunge into insanity and destroy his ambitions too. The author never states this explicitly, but any astute reader can appreciate the subtlety with which the message is driven home.

Anything else that I mention will spoil the experience of actually reading this book. The one thing that any potential reader might like to remember is that “Bleeding Hearts” is a superbly appropriate title for this moving tale.

By: Nilan