"Since the primary motive of the evil is disguise, one of the places evil people are most likely to be found is within a church. What better way to conceal one's evil from oneself as well as from others than to be a deacon or some other highly visible form…within our culture." - - M. Scott Peck
After a defiant Pori Moni walked out of jail, she took the time to take some selfies and even threw up a open-palmed salute. The salute put on display the words and symbols she had embossed , which would go into infamy in a few minutes. "Don't love me..." it said, with an added expletive for effect.
It seemed the concentrated effort to "expel all evil" from Pori Moni had not worked.
Earlier in the day, the High Court had granted the actor bail.
In its observation, it said the way Pori Moni was remanded was not fit for a civilised society.
It came down hard on the judges which had granted law enforcers remands on three different occasions, even before a charge sheet was filed.
"It needs to be checked that what evidence the investigating officer presented with the remand pleas and the reasons why the court granted the remands," a virtual bench comprising Justice Mostafa Zaman Islam and Justice KM Zahid Sarwar said during the hearing on a plea of Ain o Salish Kendra, which had filed the plea questioning the validity of the multiple remands.
If Pori Moni's trial has captured the nation's imagination, it has also thrown up questions of how women are treated in the country.
Shamsunnahar Smrity, better known as Pori Moni, was arrested during a raid by the Rapid Action Battalion on August 4. She was brought to a magistrate court in Dhaka following the end of a four-day remand.
Pori Moni's trial or rather exorcism in this case had evidently begun a lot earlier; it was before she was even accused of anything and before any raid had uncovered any implicating evidence against her.
In fact, the real trial for Pori Moni began when she dared to upend the status quo.
And like any exorcism, there were stages to it.
Revealing the evil
It is important for an exorcist to be confident that an evil spirit has entered the inflicted's body. The first step in the exorcism process is to become aware of this presence.
On June 13, Pori Moni called a press conference, a day after posting a Facebook status which shocked the nation.
In the status and the subsequent press conference, Pori Moni revealed how businessman Nasiruddin Mahmud, a former president of Uttara Club and a person of political influence, had tried to rape her and threatened to murder her at Uttara Boat Club.
She claimed that once she made her escape from the club, she even tried to file a case against him, but law enforcers refused to take it.
As the country's attention shifted to Pori Moni -- away from the suicide of a young girl who had accused another powerful man and away from a failure to deal with a Covid-19 pandemic -- the law enforcers now sprung into action.
Nasiruddin was arrested the next day. The same contrabands, a feature in most police raids, were found in Nasir's possession.
And then came the real evil.
For the next month, the focus was on why Pori Moni was at the club so late. Many did not hesitate to say that it was a "deal gone wrong". Pori Moni may have "hiked up her price".
A member of parliament, during a session on the budget just a few days later, took to the floor and said, "The heroine who went to that club knows how to act. On social media, I saw her being taken into a car in someone's lap. In view of all this, I'll appeal to the government to make sure justice can take its own course. Nasir will have to be acquitted. Law will take its own course but he'll have to be released."
The same MP, who had willfully assassinated someone's character in Parliament, would then demand that TikTok, a popular mobile app, be banned to save the youth of the nation.
He ended by saying that Nasir was a decent person, all this before any of the courts had weighed in on the matter.
More onslaught on Pori Moni was about to come.
The second stage is to realise that the spirit is playing the victim. The spirit will pretend to be the same person as the body it has entered. The exorcist must find a way to separate the person from the demon.
On August 4, a team of RAB descended on Pori Moni's house, following what police claimed was information gleaned from another arrestee Mishu Hasan.
After the raid, Rab said they had recovered drugs, foreign liquor and sex toys from the actor's house.
Pori Moni was shown arrested in a narcotics case a day later. A Dhaka court also placed her on a four-day remand.
While most of those produced before court come and go meekly, Pori Moni refused to go down without being heard. "I'm being framed on false charges and you are laughing!" she told onlookers while leaving the courtroom that day.
This would also not be the first remand granted for Pori Moni.
By the first remand, however, the case had been transferred to the Detective Branch of police.
Mere hours later, the CID took over the case.
On August 18, the CID again asked for a fresh five-day remand of Pori Moni.
The court granted it a one-day remand.
The breaking point
When the pretence fails, the demon will finally break out of the character of the body it has inhabited and started speaking in its real tongue. It will raise panic and sow confusion all around it.
On a Friday afternoon, after the DB had taken over investigating the case, DB Joint Commissioner Harun Ur Rashid said Pori Moni had been involved "in unethical business under the guise of her film career."
Zayed Khan, general secretary of the Bangladesh Film Artistes' Association, was summoned to the DB office.
Afterwards, Zayed spoke to reporters. Although he did not say much, he said enough, declaring "the association would not take any liability for any actor's misdeeds."
At the same time, a section of media was busy publishing juicy details of Pori Moni's personal life. Pictures and videos of her -- in conditions considered normal in any world not entrenched in patriarchy – began to emerge.
It seemed a number of people had already reached the guilty verdict. Although some actors came out in support of Pori Moni, a quarter was already invested in tarnishing her reputation.
On August 25, a petition was filed by a lawyer seeking a directive from the High Court to the government to remove reports, videos and photographs, which were "defamatory and character assassinating" for film actor Pori Moni, along with a few others.
The petition also said that reports and videos, which had no links to the narcotic case in which Pori Moni was detained, was published or broadcast only to defame the actress.
Against surmounting odds, on August 21, in open court, Pori Moni begged her lawyers to submit another bail petition after the end of her third remand.
"Why doesn't anyone plea for my bail? I will lose my sanity, please plea for my bail," she begged.
At the same hearing, Pori Moni's lawyers urged the court to allow them to speak to the actor. This was also denied by the Dhaka court.
At the end of the hearing, Pori Moni's lawyer Nilanjana Rifat reportedly told journalists that Pori Moni had been remanded repeatedly. "She told me that she would go crazy," the lawyer said.
Four days later on August 26, the HC issued a rule seeking explanation as to why a lower court had set a hearing on Pori Moni's another bail petition 21 days after her filing the petition.
It deemed this delay to be "curtailing the rights of the accused".
Finally, a bail was granted.
The ordeal was about to come a temporary halt, but there are three more stages that will come soon: the voice, which when comes out must be silenced. In this case, the voice may have appeared during the initial press conference before being silenced. Would it reemerge?
If it remerges, then what will follow next would be the clash when the voice will collide with the "will of the Kingdom".
And finally, there will be the expulsion, when the evil spirit finally leaves and a new, purer Pori Moni, which fits into our desire for meek women in society is fulfilled.