Archive for category perspectives

A State of Suffocating Silence: A Night Near the BDR Headquarters in Pilkhana

It has been almost 3 hours since we’ve kept the lights at our home down. There is no sound outside – an ironical piece of reality given the fact there are at least 30 army tanks, artillery and hundreds of army troop outside.

Around half past three today afternoon, a message was broadcasted through miking and TV. It came from the local MP of Dhanmondi/Jhigatola – Barrister Fazle Nur Tapash – and requested all civilians within 2 miles radii of the BDR HQ to evacuate their homes. Many left, and in minutes, our apartment became vacant except 3/4 confused families. We’ve been hearing rumours since yesterday and weren’t sure whether we should fall for this one or not. On another note, news was coming in about army tanks and heavily armed police pulling up on the streets of Dhanmondi.

There were two scenarios at hand:
(a) Going out to face these manmade monsters and be caught in a crossfire, or
(b) Stay at home and wait for an apparent air raid

The latter seemed less possible, so the three of us (my mother, my little brother and myself) decided to stay at home. At least, we’ll be safe from whatever chaos was happening in the streets. Calls were coming in from every corner of the city, but making a decision and avoiding the rashness of it was a difficult process. We received calls from high officials in the Air Force and Army confirming there won’t be any air raids, and my mother concluded it was, indeed, best to stay home.

Meanwhile, two army grounds men came to our main entrance and asked us to evacuate immediately. Given such straightforward instructions, we decided – perhaps – it was reasonable to leave. But when we arrived at the gate, they stopped us and said if we couldn’t escape the area within 3-4 minutes, we might be caught in a series of gunshots. They will not be responsible for our lives. We didn’t have any transport except the strength of our feet and it was unmistakable that they wouldn’t carry us to safety within 5 minutes.

We were trapped.

We were told to hide on the ground floor of our apartment. IF there was an air raid, ground floors were the safest of all places. The army grounds men had explained this to us, and we sat on the lobby floor, waiting for something to happen. A while later, our next-door neighbour got up and said she was leaving. We didn’t know how, and even till now, we are not certain whether she had actually managed to leave the premises. The remaining two families – ourselves and the ones from the floor above us – waited for a while and finally decided it was better to stay home than be stranded in the lobby.

At half past five, we realized we were actually – in fact – one of the only two families remaining at our apartment. We didn’t know whether there were other families at other apartments or in the neighbourhood. Everything around us was in a frenzy, yet in a state of such utter silence that it reminds you of the weather before a storm is about to strike.

We didn’t know what storm was brewing. All we knew that we were a part of it, and all we could do was pray to Allah (the Almighty) to keep us safe.

The lights are switched off and the TV murmurs whatever “breaking news” the world has to offer. Cell phone networks are down. I’m sending occasional text messages to my friends and cousins, begging for the latest news. There has been rumours of a possible air raid, of tanks breaking into the Quarters and of a crackdown. We don’t know what to believe or who to trust. The channels repeat old stories and by now, we have them memorized. We are too afraid to make noise, lest the army and police on the street become aware of our presence and try to break into our home.

Abba has called several times already. We’ve told him to stay at his hospital – safe and away from this havoc. He wanted to come home in an ambulance, but that would only strengthen the suspicion. There are six of us at our home now – Amma, my little brother (Siyam), me and three maid servants. There is a family of five upstairs (if they hadn’t left already because we can’t really tell).

All we have with us are prayers.
And Allah.

There is absolutely no noise outside, not a flick of light or even a sign of life.

It is the fear of the unknown that is killing us. We may have made a wrong judgment call or reacted 10 minutes later. However, what has been done has already been seen and felt. A long night is still ahead of us and as I anticipate for the best with my family here, I hope Allah is listening to us.

We wait for the sun to dawn upon us.

9:15pm/February 26, 2009
Dhanmondi/Dhaka

Special thanks to everyone who have kept us informed through text messages and phone calls.

Advertisements

7 Comments

Sleeves Our Music Wears

The relationship between art and music is a love-hate patch. At any one period, they sing along the same tune; while in the other, you find them tearing each other’s hairs out. The very fact that our music needs to wear clothes designed by some of the finest graphics gurus that this world has to offer may seem like an inconspicuous detail we all like to overlook. But the truth remains that album art, in itself is an industry without which our music may have lacked that kick of art that flirts with our eyes.

History of Album Art
Although Alex Steinweiss is often hailed for pioneering the very concept of album art, its origin dates back to 1910 when 78 rpm records replaced phonograph cylinder as the medium for recorded sound. The 78 rpm records were issued in both 10 and 12 inches diameter sizes and were usually sold separately in brown paper or cardboard sleeves that were sometimes plain and sometimes printed to show the producer or the retailer’s name. German record company Odeon pioneered the ‘album’ in 1909 when it released the “Nutcracker Suite” by Tchaikovsky on 4 double-sided discs in a specially-designed package.

Beginning in the 1920s, bound collections of empty sleeves with a plain cardboard or leather cover, similar to a photograph album, were sold as ‘record albums’ that customers could use to store their records. In 1938, Columbia records hired Steinweiss as its first art director. After his initial efforts at Columbia, other record companies followed his lead.  By the late 1940s, record albums for all the major companies featured their own colorful paper covers in both 10-inch and 12-inch sizes. Some featured reproductions of classic art while others utilized original designs.

In today’s world, album art consumes of an important ritual in music culture. As a marketing tool and an expression of artistic intent, gatefold covers and inserts (often with lyrics) have made the album cover a desirable artifact in its own right.

page2

When the Brush Strokes Cash
It is no jaw-dropping surprise when one hears of names of famous artists who have gained international accolade through designing album sleeves. The designer company, ‘Hipgnosis’ with its sleeve genius Storm Thorgerson is a brand amongst many. Designing album covers for Pink Floyd, AC/DC and other ‘gods of music’, Thorgerson has been on the field for nearly three decades. Bands don’t always agree with his ideas. Notably, Pink Floyd picked the prism design for “Dark Side of The Moon” over a much more ambitious concept involving a silver surfer riding the tube of a huge wave. The album has sold more than 40 million copies, so the band must have had a point. Thorgerson was paid a flat fee of 600 pounds, but insists he has no regrets. At an interview with The Sydney Morning Herald, the 64-year old designer says, “Being a graphic designer is not exactly a passport to financial riches. My satisfaction is from working with bands and the fans when I meet them.”

While many may conclude his words as a flattering modesty with references from the likes of Roger Dean (famous for his Yes and Greenslade covers) and Cal Schenkel (known for Captain Beefheart’s “Trout Mask Replica” and Frank Zappa’s “We’re only in it for the Money”), one cannot help but wonder whether making music look good as opposed to sounding good is indeed an understated art. Whether listeners and customers truly look at the sleeves before picking out a record or whether it’s just another bonus that comes unappreciated.

The debate is often left to the music buffs, but international media and orthodox masses have often reacted violently to many album sleeve designs. The noted few would be Jimi Hendrix’s “Electric Ladyland”, Scorpions’ “Lovedrive”, Guns N Roses’ “Appetite for Destruction”, Nirvana’s “Nevermind” and Aerosmith’s ‘Nine Lives”.  Many designs have often been replaced by plain white paper to avoid controversies and Matchbox Twenty was even sued by Frank Torres for using his photo on their album cover. Surprisingly, labels and bands are also accused of promoting the wrong message through offensive portrayals of different things through album art.

Album Art in Bangladesh
While raising hailstorms in first-world countries across the globe, album art has also raised eyebrows within our local masses over the past decade. After the multifaceted musician Ornob designed the sleeve of his second release, “Hok Kolorob” himself, album art has held an esteemed proportion of thought amongst ardent listeners and new age artists. Be it a classy portrait of the voice inside, random group photos spaced out irregularly or a simple artwork in vibrant orange; album sleeves do catch attention amongst critics and buyers equally. Whether it influences them on picking a particular album from many is undecided, but it certainly creates a buzz amongst the fans.

“It feels good when you see an album that comes with a design you want to keep on your desk,” says 19-year old Ekram. “The fact that the band has put attention to details like creating a sleeve that catches eyes shows that the band has also put a decent effort in its music. The album is then definitely worth a few minutes of play time!”

So, what is it about a cover that makes it memorable? The Watson Brothers’ debut release “Ohom” came with a simple design on a light brown background. Yet, it is hailed as one of the classics of sleeve designing by youths who think more about music that just letting it beat their eardrums. Notably, the most anticipated releases of 2008, Black’s “Abar” and Authorhin’s “Aushampto” have both come with unique art on their cover. “Abar” came with a sleek red-and-black layout with awareness against music piracy while the latter took a chalkboard formula, haphazardly arranged in style.

“If I’m a fan as such, I will purchase that artist’s releases, even if it comes with a poor album art,” argues out 21-year old Ayesha. “However, the good design does work like a bonus. It doesn’t decide what I’m going to buy, but if it’s from a new artist I’ve not heard before with a fancy album art, I think I will be influenced enough to give that guy a shot! In a way, it tells me the artist comes with a taste!”

Thus, whether it’s the design that at all helps an artist make his or her way to your play list is a 360 degree debate that will eat up an entire issue of RS. It perhaps doesn’t help one decide, but it certainly plays a role when it comes to newbie in the music field. One of my personal favorites in sleeve designing comes from Sayan’s pitch-black album cover. Its simplicity was so striking that I picked it up from the many records that were in front of me and gave it a shot. I have not been disappointed by her soulful voice either. Endorsing Ayesha’s remark, a good album cover indicates an artist who has an equal understanding of music as well as art, and will leave our heart thumping to the beats of both.

Sources: Wikipedia, The Sydney Morning Herald

1 Comment

My Right to My Vote

We often ask ourselves whether it is bliss or a blunder that we were given the right to vote. Being the more informed young adults, the apathetic generation accused of being the ‘West-influenced monomaniacs’ and now, first time voters have the right to choose an apparent messiah (or a group of them) to lead us into an utopian plateau where malice and malevolency of any kind is but a distant speck in the horizon. How did our forefathers who devised social ideologies like ‘democracy’ thought that we’d ever be able to find a leader who would be a selfless devotee to the common good of men? Is it even possible to find someone who is not plagued or perforated by inner demons? Somewhere deep within, many of us have the gut feeling that, here, in this time and place, it’s an arithmetic improbability.

It’s the time to pick a representative again here in the riverine patch of heaven called Bangladesh. It’s like choosing your guardian angel for a span of 5 years, only in our case the angels often shed their wings and get their hands dirty doing, let’s say, not so evangelical works. For the first time, the roads of Dhaka are uniquely littered with posters, hanging ones, tied to tiny strands of ropes they keep the contenders heads up high. Smiling as they appear in the lights of their ideological leaders and adorned with one liners that will perhaps lead to a fabricated miracle convincing us to choose that individual as our harbinger. The walls have been left alone of the election graffiti. With every fluttering breeze, people give out a sigh of relief, “Thank god there’s no wall-postering this time!” And suddenly, it hits us. The fact that our expectations have shrunk to a nano sphere where joy comes from the simple, small changes that our potential leaders have now been forced to make. It’s more about actually getting that little bit done (which would be an obvious in many other countries of the world) as opposed to genuinely finding a guardian angel to answer to our plights.

All the major parties attending the general election this year do have morally upright nominees. They are not perfect human beings but definitely preferable to many of their counterparts. However, sadly it seems their grasp over their own political directions lose track once they are actually elected. It’s almost as if they are overwhelmed by how corrupt many of their co-workers are and want to taste the forbidden elixir themselves. That’s what drove many of our so called leaders into their political demise when many of them were convicted of varying degrees of felony charges, corruption accusations and nepotism in the event of the now iconic ‘1/11’ incident. Strangely as the time of election grew nearer, many of them were released, without properly explaining to the people the nature of their release order. Now, many of those who had abused their power during successive reigns of horror are once again allowed to run for the office, credit goes to infinitesimal loopholes in our constitutional democracy. The innumerable talk show rhetorics are now the understatement of the year with their self proclaimed Nostradamus of a potential Bangladesh in the making. The sardonic ones amongst us sure had a good laugh, eh?

But for one second, we leave the pessimism aside. We pause and wonder whether it all was meant to go down the drain. This year’s election is not devoid of positive vibe. There are a bunch of new faces, new promises, brightly lit, uniquely fit election strategies, clear voting boxes, ingenious road banners by the government and for the first time, VOTER IDs with BIO-METRIC recognition. So how does that fair with our voting decisions?  Unfortunately, buggers like us figured the flashy bio-metrics won’t be used this year, because the backbone needed for personnel recognition has not been set-up yet. Nevertheless, it’s still an impressive feat, seeing how even our neighbors don’t have a system to log all their inhabitants under. That does bring a smile, doesn’t it? Besides, the idea of flashing a fish-eyed National ID card in the process does seem a massive achievement once we reach the end of the race.

As the debates heat up amongst the pro and anti non-partisan government loyalties and the two major parties host nationwide campaigns based on promises they make and fail to live up to, our head hurts to the thought of who we’ll cast our sacred vote to. Whom do we trust with our electricity, water, education and the security of survival for the next 5 years? Is it that guy we know to be a convicted felon, but who has at least done some work for the good or is it that new kid from the block with hopes and dreams that he promises only he can deliver? Luckily, this year there’s something to cheer for neutralists like ourselves. We can smack that voting seal in between a ‘cross sign’ declaring we side with no one and want a reelection in your locality. That is swell, considering indifference is a common curse we all suffer from. This is getting right back at George Carlin who once coughed up a comedy where voters who voted shouldn’t complain about the corrupt politicians since they bothered to walk to the venue anyway. It’s about not wasting that chance to exercise a right and if it comes along with a protest as nifty as such, then a vote cast is stronger than a vote ignored.

Fact remains we will definitely vote on the coming December morning, hoping a sudden hailstorm won’t start disrupting everything. There’s a new kid in our block on behalf of AL who gave his A’levels from Mapleleaf; a discovery that stunned many. Whether he is a good leader or an excellent follower to his political ancestors is a question yet to answered, but this season, it felt good to know the sun got painted in a different colour. Whom we vote for or cast a NO to remain undecided. The metropolitan carbon saturated air hails that people this time around are much shrewder, far more calculative. They have seen all the faces of the hexagon, in the lights of crops, vehicles, farming equipments and what not. Just ask any rickshawalla in the roads of Dhaka, and his reply to the political system would be more or less pessimistic. In our opinion, people have started to look beyond the guise of handshakes, wry photogenic smiles, slum-visits in white Punjabis or tater-sarees. Give them a few years, and we might have a shot at a real election after all.

By: Sabhanaz Rashid Diya and Naser Imran Hossain

Leave a comment

No, I Do Not Want To Befriend You, Grisly Bear!

Recently, courtesy of my ’70s hairstyle and familiarity with the kajol, I have come across innumerable friend requests and personal messages on Facebook from a variety of old men. It’s not like this didn’t happen before. Being a young girl with an online account in Bangladesh pretty much puts you under the spotlight of ravenous ‘friend-seeking’ men who have a lot of time in their hands. However, the recent burgeoning of their numbers is quite alarming and I have resigned to changing my Facebook status (although they will never get to read it, thanks to privacy options).

So, a couple of weeks back, I received a message at my Inbox from a guy, who by the looks of his passport-sized photo was above 30, tried to appear handsome but failed miserably and has resigned to technology to find his life partner. He writes (and I quote):

“Hi, I am the Asst Manager in one of the largest group in BD. I am moderately pious and of a good family – all the members of my family (including both grand father’s family) are educated and gentle. Currently I am looking for an adorning life partner (22-25 & 5ft2inch-5ft4inch, decent, good looking, moderately pious with good education and of good family). I want her as my best friend also. That’s why I am seeking her through friendship. Consequence of that I would like to know whether there is any probability among us to enter in such relation or not.”

In a nutshell, as the long message proceeded, he was asking whether I was moderately religious (not a punk with scanty blue highlights on my hair, sighs) and of a family background decent enough so he could marry me. Excuse me?

Zabir and I were wondering whether we should set up a meeting with this over-enthusiastic ‘young’ man, make him pay for our date and then, Zabir would go up to him and ask him some questions and end the session saying that our ‘desperate seeker’ needed further improvement in character to be the best match for his girl aka me. Imagine a lover searching for a mate for his beloved and interviewing the guy – I could only imagine the expressions and choke with laughter.

Call me cruel, but I cannot help its facetiousness. Months back, I received another message from a dude living in Riyadh. He asked me whether I was interested to share my life with him. He mentioned he had a good salary, could provide love and guarantee a secured life for me. When I shared the experience with my boss – who btw, is known for his obnoxious sense of humour – he said I should write back to the guy, asking him whether he would provide oil to my country. With the recent rise in petrol prices and my boss’ obsession with cars, I suppose it would have benefited all three unconnected parties – my boss, my country and me. If the guy from Riyadh agreed to our proposal, I might reconsider his interest in ‘sharing my life with him’.

The more laconic messages that come attached to friend requests usually follow a basic pattern. It’s something like this:
“Hi. I good man. You look good girl. You want friendship? Come to me.”
The ones who’re a bit straightforward and don’t want to spend too much time ‘getting to know the chic’ would normally write:
“I great man. Call me now!! 01234567790!”
There are, of course, some men who try to look young. They’d have the first 4 buttons of their shirts undone and wear GayBan sunglasses with an eyebrow raised. If you’ve got patience and an experience of 10 years with friends who possess outright disgorge senses of humour, you’d have a guts to take a better look at the photo. You can see a small bit of the bhuri sticking out, desperately trying to be flattened and hidden using a tight belt and a mixture of grey-and-white curled chest hair. If you’ve ever watched a Dhaliwood blockbuster, this would clearly remind you of all the supposedly ‘powerful’ villains who would have call girls on their laps and rub their clean-shaved chins, saying:
“Eh heh he shundori.. tor eto shundor shorir’e toh kapor manaye na…”
Note the background echoing of a collective shrill of female voices chanting, “Mon chaile mon, deho chaile deho; shobi paabe tumi, jaanbe na keho!”
At this point, you’d switch off your brain and vision, and roll on bed either laughing hysterically or chocking on saliva because you want to throw up. For the more concerned viewers, well, they might roll on bed in despair and write heart-rendering protests on the ‘censored’ vulgarity of our film industry.

Nonetheless, I don’t understand why someone needs to resort to a virtual world to find their love partners. Has the real world gone so void of pretty women? I doubt. When clueless boys with spiked hair and bling bling want to be your friend, you can conclude he’s either homosexual or is extremely bored. You can blame his generation. But when a man with a bhuri as round as a football and aged as old as your uncle seeks your ‘hand in marriage’, the world indeed seems a very strange place. Like these men who’ve been trying to add me recently. Most of them have a medium-sized, serious-looking passport photos wearing formal shirts in a variety of colours and neatly pressed ties. I swear – if a guy with a bow tie adds me, I’m definitely sending him a reply message! It’s hard to imagine none of these men are married, and I’m sure almost 99% of them are sitting in their offices, posting messages to girls on Facebook while their wives are at home, cooking daal and wondering whether her coveted child will get 0.01% marks more than paasher-baari’r bhabi’s son with a baseball head. Some of the more daring stereotypes asked for my CV and whether I came from a particular region in Bangladesh, in tandem to their preferences. Dude, get a life!

In conclusion, I do not want to marry you, creepy old man. I am taken, I have a life and you are a freak of nature. Please go back to your home, put dye on your bald head and see if you could somehow manage to dress like Charlie Chaplin. That way, you might make a more productive career out of joining a circus. You’ve proven to be quite ludicrous already – so I don’t think making people laugh will be much of a problem for you.

Amen.

Leave a comment

From Homeless To Heroism

Under the blinking lights of a monstrous city, they came to me. She looked 14, pushing a worn-down wheelchair carrying her brother, aged around 10. Tatterdemalion in a yellow frock, she stopped on the driveway and looked imploringly at me. The brother raised his eyes and mumbled, “Apa, duita taka bhikka den!” (translate: “Please give me two taka!”)

I make it a rule to discourage begging, especially when it comes to children. Almost reflexively, I asked him whether he goes to school. His expression dropped and he took a better look at my exterior. This was common reaction – street children don’t expect genuine questions from the more privileged social class. His sister, whose attention has now grown intense nodded her head. I could not conceal my joy! It’s been quite a while I met a tokai who attend regular school. I queried about their whereabouts. Suddenly, the brother stopped me midway and asked,
“What is your name?”
I felt electrocuted. His question was in English and my face broke into a joyful smile. Above me, the sunken Kozmo lights and glitters of shopping malls seemed sullen. The twinkle gleaming in his eyes shone like a million heaven-sent stars.

In a moment of truth as the one described in the aforementioned incident, you cannot help but feel optimistic. You’re suddenly swept off your feet under the epiphany of social progress, however minute it may seem to the superficial visionary. Over the past two years, I have come across uncountable children with humongous potential, and it’s difficult for me to believe with such great talents, Bangladesh is in void. Their dreams, aspirations and spirits are applaudable, and I have been remarkably fortunate to meet them. They have opened a third eye in me and they have made me believe the skies aren’t too far away. All one needs to do is dream big enough to touch the high blues.

Finding Tomorrow’ is a celebration of youth empowerment and young heroes. 1° Initiative (1di) proudly presents to its enthusiasts a publication that salutes those innumerable children who’ve shown us how to smile through the toughest battles of life. It doesn’t take a sweeping revolution to change society; it can start very small and virtually anywhere with a speck of laughter. It can begin at a dilapidated, tin-shed school at the corner of a reeking slum and end up a national award ceremony honouring young achievers.

A dream is all it takes to change the world.


Sabhanaz Rashid Diya
September 2008, Dhaka

Download 1° Initiative Newsletter

2 Comments

She, So Possessed

The echoes of Maghrib azaan ring across the hallway.  She comes running from the room, fixing her hair and gulps down a glass of water kept on the dining table. She eyes the ‘family’ seated around the table, mentally confirming everyone has got their food. She looks at her husband, who mumbles how the haalim seems too thick. Alarmed, she tells him she’ll fix the problem by the time he’s done saying his prayers. Almost immediately, she goes to the kitchen, fiddles with the cookery and as promised, delivers a less thickened haalim on her husband’s plate. He gives her an affirmative nod and with a breath of relief, she sits down on the table and begins her iftar

Note: her meal waits while his is done. 

I am not reciting a fiction piece screaming extravagant feminism. I am not telling stories of bourgeois or poverty. This is an everyday scenario, practiced ‘round the clock around the table in perfectly balanced families. The woman, committed to please the man; and the man, apathetic and poised.  There is absolutely nothing morally wrong about trying to please another person. Your chances of not getting thrown from the gates of Heaven apparently increase by a small percentage every time you satisfy another being. It just happens so that in your desperation to please that other person, you’ve forgotten your priorities. For instance, in the aforementioned incident, I suppose the world would not have turned upside down if dear haalim for dearest husband waited until she had her fair share of iftar first.    

Perhaps, I am being overtly sentimental. This really means nothing after all. So, she had her food a couple of minutes later. Why am I beating about the bushes for something so trivial? In my defense, I humbly confess this particular she was someone I admired greatly for many years. She represented a liberal entity, someone who always took charge of any given situation and spoke her mind. Someone who stood up for her beliefs, was infallible in her judgment and would never give into any form of subservience. Only recently, in front of my very eyes, she has transformed into the typical, exemplary wife who puts her man’s priorities above hers. She, the fiery chunk of individualism I once looked up to, now seems like a stagnant mothball. 

What does she tell me to calm me down? That he is the better man? He doesn’t beat her up. He’s not stopping her from working outside home. He’s not intervening in her career. He doesn’t choose her friends. Aren’t all those more than a woman in a patriarch society can bargain for? Hasn’t she had had enough? In an evolved system where women are brainwashed from the moment they gain intellectual conscience that her ultimate goal in life is to be a sensible home keeper in tandem to holding a basic job with an average salary; honestly, getting all that is a lot. But, what about having higher aspirations? What about being better than mediocre? How about the woman coming home late at night from work or not staying up ‘out of love’ for the man to serve him dinner? How about her attending a dinner buffet at the office while the he’s having it at home with the kids? The kids aren’t only hers; they’re his too. Is he still the better man?  

Honestly, even the narrowest peek into imagining such scenarios seems like an appalling reality. It challenges a perfect arrangement that has successfully dominated human psychology for decades. How could anyone with the least sense of foresight have the audacity of toppling this system of rules? Before you conclude this text as a repetition of the hackneyed concept of the victimized women; allow me to conclude: it is the woman, rather, who victimizes herself. 


Perplexed? Provoked? Am I finger-pointing the ‘weaker sex’ although I belong to it? We all know of incidents where the aspiring female was overshadowed by the daunting male, and she was cast into a life submerged in submission and stoicism. What about incidents where the woman wants to be thrown into such situations, rendering to the need of security and projecting her vulnerability? It’s not the fear of being ‘unloved’ or dissatisfying the man; it’s simply a precondition, a state of mind that she has been brought up with. 

Mary McCarthy in her autobiographical novel, ‘The Group’ writes about eight Vassar girls in the 1930s. Intended to be a partial parody, it portrays women as they embrace ideas of political and social progress in the 1930s and 1940s. One of the most interesting ‘facts’ outlined in the novel was how on average, every girl who graduates from college is wife to a rich Republican lawyer and mother of two children. Similarly, the movie ‘Monalisa Smile’ starring Julia Roberts and Kirsten Durst is a refined depiction of how the Wellesley girls have hopes of marrying a decent man because they are well-educated. The fact that the woman has dreams and comes from a more educated background makes her a more attractive catch to the man. Whether those dreams are seen through is unimportant. 

You may argue these are occurrences from ‘40s. Times have changed and women have become more independent. I don’t disagree; we have, indeed, harvested more liberal mindsets about different things. However (subtle as it may seem to you), in reality, society has progressed very little in terms of the ‘trophy wife’ concept. Statistically, on average, every girl in their fourth-year at medical school becomes a talk for marriage. The simple facts that she has undertaken such a challenging course and carries the revered degree on her back make her a prime attraction to potential bachelors. She, herself expects to be ‘the first pick’ in a marriage talk because of her background. Countless times I have seen parents lecturing their daughters about how a complete college education will give them a better ground with her in-laws. Men today want a working wife; it’s just more fashionable! Unfortunately, women take it as a way of life. If she studies and has a place in corporate or other fields, regardless of whether she’s earning big bucks or being the most dynamic, she will create an impression wherever she goes. Education is a sense of security, a perquisite; not a substantial self-acknowledgement or personal development for more bountiful returns. 

So, how about a woman who pursues a PhD in Anthropology? How about a working mother who runs an export firm? How about that female doctor specializing in Spinal Surgery and attending conferences across the globe? Now, wouldn’t that be one heck of a progress? Yes, it’s a painful struggle and communities will censure that woman. But, isn’t that a fight worth striving for? I often face counterarguments about how the woman is a bigger need to the children. She must pull strings to maintain ‘peace’ in the family and make sacrifices for ‘the greater good’. I’m not undermining women’s roles in a social infrastructure; I’m only asking her to want more things for herself than what society has allotted for her. 

I am not asking women to rebel against society; I’m begging her to pursue her dreams. She shouldn’t have to grow up with preset ideas about where in life she’ll have to make sacrifices. These days, I’ve come across too many girls who’re determined make the cut in their careers for the sake of future families. Maybe that’s a sign of maturity, but at the cost of losing your very singularity is too big a loss. I’m asking women to not eventually transform into a wholesomely different person the moment they step inside a household they are supposed to be responsible for. She doesn’t need to bang her head on the table to impose her presence, but simply work into making her opinions and priorities count and have a strong voice. Breaking out of the box or removing a Queen of Hearts from the house of cards is the first step in bringing about a social reform. That can only start when she begins looking at things differently from what she has been taught to do.

Leave a comment

Why Does It Always Rain On Me

Leave a comment