October 5, 2009
(abridged version in Forum: http://thedailystar.net/forum/2009/october/unbearable.htm)
When I lifted the most adorable two-year old in the world to sit her on my lap, she started screaming “Amar lengtu! Amar lengtu!” with an angry and disturbed look on her face. I didn’t realize I had accidentally pulled her dress upto her waist. Perplexed and alarmed by her premature recognition of her ‘shame’ zone that would in a few years evolve into her ‘fear’ zone, I worried about what grounds her intuition was building up on. As I fixed her dress, she lightly slapped my arm to ‘punish’ me for revealing her shame. She seems to be perfectly fine with bare arms and legs. I was as disheartened as I was resentful to see how aware she is of the hierarchy of fear/shame attached to different parts of her body. Why has it arrived so soon – her terrorized conscious?
Her five year old sister wanted to show off how her little sister is able to identify different parts of her body.
“Tomar chul dekhao toh!”
The little one pulled on one of her curls, “Eita amar chul.”
“Aar tomar chokh?”
She pointed at the corner of her eye, “Eta amar chokh.” Then she took over. “Eije amar naak! Eita amar kopaal …Eita amar gaal.” Extending her arms she said, “Egula amar haath.” Then she lifted her frock, and said, “Eita amar pet … aar eije amar dudu…” Right then, a male staff of the house walked into the room to get something. Before I knew it, I quickly pulled down her dress, pulled her close, and asked her to tell me that story about two girls and their tea-drinking cockroach friend that she had made up a few days back. “Ekta telapoka aar duita meye boshe acche…” Why did it creep up on me without any warning – my terrified conscience?
This Ramadan, a bunch of friends and I would go to Dhanshiri for post-iftaar tea quite frequently. There we befriended a group of kids – approximately 10 years old, who live in Korail, but hover in the area ‘collecting’ money after school everyday. As soon as we got there, they would come shake our hands, sing for us, ask us to sing, tell us about their lives, inquire about ours … you get the picture. Read the rest of this entry »
September 18, 2009
Zehal-e miskin makun taghaful,
Duraye naina banaye batiyan;
Kitaab-e hijran nadaram ay jaan,
Na leho kaahe lagaye chhatiyan?
(Do not overlook my misery
Blandishing your eyes, and weaving tales;
My patience has over-brimmed, O sweetheart,
Why do you not take me to your bosom?)
– original by Hazrat Amir Khusrau, translation by “Unknown”
Borsha* did not know she had no right to fall in love. In fact, she did not even know, she had no right to be. She was one of the many floating prostitutes of a mazaar area, who existed, but not really. She was a fool who made the mistake of falling in love, an imbecile who forgot she was not a human-being, and tricked herself into believing the promises her customer-turned-lover made of marrying her.
She was a dweller of a mazaar, the place where hundreds of people flock on a weekly basis to conduct wish-fulfilling rituals. And apparently they work. So why wouldn’t her wishes come true when she lived amidst all that magic?
She forgot magic wasn’t for her either.
So her eyes were pulled out, and she was killed by her lover in the Shaheed Minar area. An unfit awakening for fitness freaks who workout there early in the morning and discovered her dead body dangling from a tree.
She needed to exist to cater to our needs, but she had no right to exist. Her story is the perfect example of filth permeating through what we would like to believe is our holy and untainted society. Not the filth we accuse her of diffusing, but the filth we create and conveniently shove under the rug. Borsha lived her life to hone our selfishness, and died at the hands of our nonchalant cowardice.
June 7, 2009
(in FORUM under “My Main Bane” with a few changes/edits here and there: http://www.thedailystar.net/forum/2009/may/bane.htm)
“Oh Sister when I come knock on your door
You should not treat me like a stranger
And is our purpose not the same on this earth?
Don’t turn away you’ll create sorrow”
-“Oh, Sister,” Bob Dylan
Role Call: “Girly Girl…” “Present, Please!”
I don’t wake up to Sultana’s Dream everyday. I wake up to my own very rose-tinted, idealistic, maybe even immature daydream of a perfect, balanced, free, equal and generally hatred-free world, where disparities are eradicated, and battles are fought in unity.
Wow, that made me queasy the way bubble-gum pop music does. But the good thing is, there are many interruptions to my day-dream. Or should I call them reality-checks?
So what are they? Read the rest of this entry »
September 6, 2008
Scramble of a Gruesome Synopsis:
Sexual abuse of children is a harsh reality, which is more common that realized. Some surveys say at least 1 out of 5 adult women and 1 out of 10 adult men report having been sexually abused in their childhood. Perpetrators of such abuse are usually familiar faces (members of family/extended family, neighbours, teachers, etc.), with some authority over the child, who can exert power over them.
The number of unreported instances is far greater, because the children are afraid to tell anyone what has happened either because they are unable to fully grasp what has happened, or due to a fear of being disbelieved and reprimanded; and the legal procedure for validating such an episode is difficult. In Bangladesh, the number of reported cases is even lower since talking about sex is generally a social taboo. Even if parents are aware of abuse, they shy away from taking legal action in fear of risking the reputation of the family and the child.