By Hasan Iqram Waly
19th March 2015. It’s 10:45am and my mother and I came in front of Dhaka Central Jail to meet my father. The last time I saw him was back in November, 2014. I submitted the application. Shortly afterwards, the Deputy came to return my application and informed me that my foreign passport does not have my father’s name on it. I was told to show an identification that includes my father’s name and my name. However, last time no one mentioned this rule to me. Luckily I had my Bangladesh driver’s license. I made a copy of that and submitted my application again. He came back again and said I won’t be able to meet my father.
Before I went to the prison, I spoke to the superintendent, Farman Ali. When I told him what happened, he told me to take my application and speak to the superintendent directly. I went inside and saw another guard. He saw my application and told me my passport doesn’t have my father’s name on it. Therefore I won’t be allowed to meet my father. After a lot of trouble, I was able to explain that foreign passports don’t include the father or mother’s name. He was still hesitant. Then, he went back to “Big Officer’s” room. “Big officer” came out. He looked at me and told the deputy “Can’t you understand by looking at his face and his attire? Why are you making him run back and forth just for an application? You could’ve just let him meet with whom he wants to!”
The prison guard let me sit in his room while he was making copies of my passport and looking through the old documents to match my name and phone number. I thought that maybe this gentleman was very keen. I didn’t feel bothered because my aim was to meet my father. He started bringing new complaints while signing the application. He was saying that I would be able to meet my father today, but my mom would have to meet with him during her assigned time and not before that. I told him that my mother is fasting and she is sitting outside alone so as decency, she should be given the permission to meet. He did not agree to it and I didn’t bother arguing. There was some dry food from home, so I went out to get those and came back inside. They checked me and the food, then stamped my hand.
I passed the second gate and was going towards gate number 8 with four guards and a Deputy Jailer escort. Prisoners were being moved from the path and being ordered to sit. I was trying to see if I could find my cousin Alim and my maternal uncle among the prisoners while walking slowly with the guards. I couldn’t see any of them.
As I came near gate 8, I could hear the familiar voice of Qur’an recitation. Two guards were on special duty in front of the gate, with a CC camera on the right side to capture my father’s cell. The guards stood in front of the gate. My father continued with his recitation. Upon seeing me he stopped reciting after finishing the verse and stood up.
The last time I visited my father was last November. He didn’t know I was in Bangladesh, because I arrived after my family members met him hearing the final verdict. As I went towards my father, he kissed me on my forehead. We spoke about lots of things and he asked about everyone. He didn’t lengthen the meeting after hearing that mom is fasting and she is alone outside. I don’t know on what thoughts the Deputy opened the cell gate. My father embraced me and kissed me again on my forehead.
As I was leaving I looked back at my father, he looked very pleased. As I was exiting through the gate, I could hear the same Qur’an recitation again. The melodious voice of recitation was gently fading away, as if someone was slowly reducing the volume…
Hasan Iqram Waly is the son of Mohammad Kamaruzzaman