|Stalking Serendipity and Other Pasquinades
Farhana Haque Rahman
ISBN 984 05 1125 4 1990 112pp 215x136mm HB Tk.150.00 US$20.00
This little volume of satirical pieces is timidly offered to the public in the hopes that it will provoke a few smiles, a chuckle or two and even an occasional tummy-jiggling laugh, for as the internationally unknown l8th
century writer Sebastien R. N. Chamfort said: “The most wasted day of all is that on which we have not laughed.” There is also - I must confess it - another motive. During the year and more since my naughty alter ego, Ms. Happiness Hack, first began to stalk serendipity on the pages of Holiday, she has been deluged by at least three letters of unstinting approbation. One of them begged her to rescue these pieces from the oblivion of that most ephemeral of printed media, the newspaper (the pages of which so often end up as fuel for cooking fires or, even more ignobly, lining for cupboard shelves) by binding them into a book, useful as a paperweight, a doorstop or a missile to throw at an obnoxious neighbour. One must humbly bow to the wishes of one’s readers. A few selections from the author’s “Image and Reality” column in Courier have also been smuggled in.
Observing - and being a participant in - the Human Comedy, and chronicling the follies and foibles of Homo Sapiens, a species Socrates once defined as “featherless bipeds”, forgetting that this definition would also include plucked chickens (see the Dedication), has been an endless source of amusement and instruction. Stalking Serendipity is an engaging pursuit, I have gained some satisfaction in being able to share my findings with others. “Laugh, and the world laughs with you;/Weep, and you weep alone”, wrote Ella Wheeler Wilcox, the American authoress of 11,345 or 11,346 excruciatingly bad poems, in her one moment of inspired weakness. And as that inimitable fount of wisdom, Anonymous, once observed: “What distinguishes mankind from all other animals, except the hyena and the loon, is the ability to laugh.”
As the Italians say: “Bon divertimento.”
Farhana Haque Rahman began her journalistic career in 1972, when she became the editor of the Bengali, weekly Probashir Daak, an Assistant Editor of the English daily Morning News and a regular contributor to the weekly Bichitra, positions she held until she went to live in Africa in 1976, where she worked as a high school teacher and radio journalist in Lesotho and Ethiopia. From 1972, she was a newsreader and commentator on Bangladesh National Television and Radio, a pursuit which led, in 1976, to her being given the first National Television Award as the Best English Newsreader.
Since moving to Rome, Italy, in 1984, she has been a free lance journalist, contributing to both the international and Bangladesh press, and serving as a media consultant for FAO, the Food and Agriculture Organization, and IFAD, the International Fund for Agricultural Development. Her issue papers on such subjects as Small Farmers, Small-scale Fishermen and Fishing Communities, Youth and Rural Development, Women in Development, and Food and the Environment have been widely distributed through UN publications, while many of her articles on such topics as the population explosion, the effects of radiation and chemical inputs on agriculture, rural credit and savings mobilization, and environmental dimensions of sustainable development have appeared in a number of European and Asian newspapers and Journals. For three years, she was responsible for overseeing the publication of all World Food Day materials for the WFD Secretariat.
She has regular columns in two Bangladeshi publications: Holiday and Courier and contributes post-editorials to the Observer. She is also the author of a volume of translations, Poems of Shamsur Rahman (1985) and a book of her own poetry, Leaves of the Sun (1987).
Ms. Rahman is a noted advocate for women’s rights and an outspoken anti-Apartheid activist. She has twice been a Bangladesh Delegate to the UN General Assembly in New York.
Ms. Rahman is married to Dr. Hussein Rahman, a UN international civil servant and has an eleven year old son.