Four brothers and a sister

by Priyo Australia | January 26, 2008 12:00 am

This is a story from faraway Zimbabwe, from its Dzivarasekwa district to be precise. A group, which calls itself "the Four Brothers and a Sister" flags down vehicles on the road, pretending that they are traffic officers checking out safety measures. It includes four men and one woman, which is how it got its name. But in reality they collect bribe from the drivers and don’t mind negotiating within the earshot of passengers.

There is a name for what they do. It’s called confidence trick or con job, an act of swindling people after one has gained their confidence.

Come back home to a similar story, of course with a twist of its kind. The four brothers and their one sister are born out of the same mother, a golden womb, which carried these gems one after another. Here the brothers don’t work with their sister, but with an impressive man who is married to her. Never mind; this is just a story. So what if it’s a fact of life?

These men have done well in life and they have continued to do so for many years. What can you say, success at times is contagious. It’s like a bad case of flu for the fortunate; the virus spreads even from a small sneeze or cough. The four brothers and their brother-in-law have been immensely lucky. Good luck runs in their blood.

Let us say, when the brother-in-law was a law enforcer, one of the four brothers was involved in a heist. They say he was an innocent man, given to drinking and easy life. They say he wasn’t to blame for what happened. At around sixty, he was as simple-minded as a child. Others used his naive shoulders to fire their guns. It’s said that the brother-in-law let him slip the net.

Eat your heart out, if you don’t know what happened next. Many people have been thrown in jail on the same charges for which the brother was spared. You may say shame, but in this wicked world this is the name of the game. Powerful people protect their families, powerful parties protect their leaders, and powerful leaders protect their cronies. We are caught in a vicious circle of power struggle. More power for few people makes the rest of us more powerless.

This is the story of how corruption breeds, from greed and love of loved ones to dishing out favors to family and friends. Tell me frankly how is it different from the story of those politicians who are currently languishing in jail? It’s perhaps a matter of degree, but surely not of anything else.

A mother gave protection to her sons, who gave protection to their buddies who gave protection to their minions. In another case, a sister looked after her sister, cousins and rest of the tribe. Down the line, others did the same thing, for spouses, children, siblings, uncles, cousins and friends.

If an iota of this story is true, then the four brothers and their brother-in-law are even worse. Educated, respectable and sophisticated, they have exploited their reputation to lower the same standards they have been busy setting for others.

Compared to those politicians, these men have more finesse. They are more articulate and know how to present things better. They speak well, look well, and they carry themselves in a more convincing manner. But this is exactly how they gained our confidence before they cheated on us. By all means what they have done is a scam.

It also raises a pertinent question. What are these talks about honesty, democracy and patriotism if not clever contrivance for playing head games with the trust of people? Where is the decency that gentlemen should have consideration for others? Where is the decency if enlightened minds must take advantage of those who are living in the dark?

Yet, believe me, this is exactly what these five men have done. They have taken us for a ride, and covered up truth to save the neck of a beloved brother. May be the brother would have been acquitted in the court. May be he would have been convicted for his crime. Now we don’t know since he was never brought to trial. The other brothers and their brother-in-law formed a shield to protect him.

He hasn’t been proclaimed absconding either. The brothers have created a smokescreen so that he will be either forgotten by all or remembered by none. What can be a bigger con game than hiding a suspect behind the innocent façade of a calculated scheme? This is what the godfathers do when the police look for their men. They send them hiding underground where they stay until the coast is clear.

These four brothers and their brother-in-law have many admirers. And the admirers in our country admire not virtue but success. Success creates the moral standard. Right and wrong are determined on the basis of what works and what doesn’t. For these men, everything has worked, and success has given them confidence to take the confidence of gullible men before making fools out of them.

We have heard about the brotherhood of crooks, but here we have the crookhood of brothers. Former US president Lyndon Baines Johnson said in a speech in 1963, "We hope that the world will not narrow into a neighborhood before it has broadened into a brotherhood." I don’t know what he would have said if he were alive to see the brotherhood of our brothers. They have narrowed the world into a brotherhood dividing it into neighborhoods of them and us.

Our four brothers and their sister’s husband are bigger con artists than the group in Zimbabwe. They have tricked the entire population of a country whereas the other group tricks the drivers in a particular town. Take a guess and tell others if you identify who they are.

Otherwise, all characters in this column are fictitious. Any resemblance to any person dead or alive is coincidence.

Mohammad Badrul Ahsan is a banker.

Original source daily star[1] | News and link posted by Badiuzzaman Khan

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