Interrogation – by Mahmud Rahman
The boys are processed through my station here on the banks of the Jamuna.
They think they are so smart. They try to rob a bank. To raise money for the struggle, they say. Or they attempt to snatch a policeman’s rifle. To collect weapons for their people’s army, they say. The adaptable ones – those with the rural equivalent of what might be called ‘street smarts’ elsewhere – don’t get caught easily. But I would estimate that as many as eight out of ten of the others do. With few exceptions, they are from what we call ‘good families.’ Children who grew up in privilege in the city. Why they think they can survive in the villages – swimming like fish in the sea, they quote Mao – I will never know. To me, they look like fish out of water.
When I say boys, I do mean boys. I am only responsible for those who are under sixteen. That is my charge from the ministry: to interview the youngest prisoners and choose who qualifies for rehabilitation.
By the time the boys face me, the constables have already knocked some sense into their skulls. But I have made it clear to my superiors that I shall not have my hands dirtied with that job. I have even managed to get them to agree that the prisoners will be given a bath before I see them. I do not want to see any signs of blood.