I used to fly fanushes when I was growing up. It began innocently enough. Me. My friends. We would sneak up to the rooftop in the dead of the night and slowly light one up. As it would float away towards the stars, so would we; entranced, giving up to a feeling of high that only giving freedom can bring. At first it was only on occasions. New Year's. Birthdays. Eid. But slowly the craving increased. A year later, I was lighting a fanush every day.
Slowly, the habit began to consume me. I could no longer enjoy everyday activities without lighting fanushes. Every movie, soccer match, conversation would be prefaced by lighting fanushes. My family began to get worried. They tried to wean me off my habit but to no avail. I could not give up on fanushes. They were easy to get. There were fanush dealers in every corner. In a few years, kids weren't only buying fanushes, they were selling them too.
The dark side of my high soon revealed itself. One day, my fanush landed on a transformer. Well, technically something much bigger than a transformer but that's what we called it anyway. In less than a minute, the transformer blew up. The neighbourhood went into full panic mode. Well, not really, since transformers blew up quite frequently. But at the moment, it really dawned upon me how much fanushes were a menace.
I wish I could say that it was then and there that I decided to stop fanush-ing. Unfortunately, that would be a lie. Fanushes were my gateway bad habit. From there I went on to other things. I started celebrating occasions on the rooftop. I would host parties inside my house without taking permission from the police station, like a total thief. I started blowing up firecrackers on all occasions. I used to put stickers proclaiming my profession on various cars. I used to hawk things on public transport.
I also began carrying firearms to political rallies. Then I began posting manipulated pictures of our politicians on social media. When all that did not satiate my appetite for mischief and law-breaking, I began asking two of my friends to ride pillion on my bike. Then, the final straw, I started expressing my opinion on the absolute inequality and lack of harmony plaguing the country.
My time with fanushes thoroughly corrupted me. When it came to settling down, I could only think of civil service. Finally, after buying my BCS question paper in advance, a thing I had done all my life, I passed with flying colours and got a job as a law enforcer. Except, I did not want to be a law enforcer. I wanted to be a law maker.
I wanted to make inane laws that make people's life difficult without actually stopping crime. I set up random police check-posts and stopped only rickshaws and CNG-run vehicles (which I called compressed natural gas, because I was a jerk) because car owners were rich and probably well connected. I then decided to curtail people's freedoms instead of stopping crime since I was absolutely incapable of doing the latter. I would do pretend drives to show people I was good only to drown them in stupid rules. I even made a film about me and all the things I didn't do because cinematic realism is a thing you will never understand. I banned fanushes. I banned rooftop parties. I did not ban crimes though. Or even try to stop them.
Today, I look at myself, a shell of the man that I used to be. I am an absolute disappointment. People say you must learn from your mistakes. I say you ban the mistakes before others can even make them. That is my motto. What is yours? Don't tell me. Because I will ban it too.
Osama Rahman is a Sub-editor, The Daily Star.