When i re-read this article I realized that my subconscious is fairly colonized. Where I made an attempt to highlight women from marginalized communities, my references were only to Bengali (and arguably Muslim women). As if non-Bengali, non-Muslim women should always be reserved for a “separate piece” and cannot be featured in a conversation on “women in Bangladesh”.
Originally published in Forum: http://thedailystar.net/forum/2011/july/the_economics.html
(here with translations)
The Economics of Our Loins
Life, they say, and death, for sure, are beyond our control. Just like my worth. “Ajke tumi 100,000 taka, kalke 50,000, porshu 25,000, aar tar porer din … NAI!” is what he said to me when I told him I am in my twenties and not interested in getting married at the moment. “Boyosh toh are kom holona!” he said, “Taar upor dekhteo eto bhalona. Kaalo. Shomoy thakte thakte biyeta kore felo. Eto porashuna-ghuraghuri-chakri-bakri diye ki hobe?”(You’re not getting younger! On top of that you’re not that good-looking. Dark-skinned. Tie the knot while you still have time. What are you going to do with all this education-travelling-work?)
A couple of years back, I had gone to this monk with flowery expectations – spiritual detoxification, carnal detachment, cathartic solace … blah blah blah. Clearly, I got none. And if you’re thinking he stopped with the spiel on my age, looks and depreciating market value, you are mistaken. He ended with a death threat.
He gloated about how he has Jinns; how an elephant once bowed down to him; how someone was once rude to him and he broke that guy’s neck just by lightly stroking it and immediately healed it with another stroke; how a recovering alcoholic once promised him he’d never touch liquor again, but did, and died. Yes, he told me the guy died solely because he broke his promise. I lost my attention somewhere around him telling me how he cured his own “purushali okkhomota” with his special powers.
I do a pretty neat job of zoning out while making a person think I am paying attention. So I launched my tried and tested method of staring and nodding at skewed frequencies. All of a sudden I snapped out of my daze when he said “Shotti toh?” (Really?) I just smiled not knowing what he was talking about. He continued, “Ei chaar deyaler moddhe bole jokhon diso, tomar agami bochhorer jonmodiner moddhe biye na korle kintu tumi moray jaba. Aami chaina tumi moro, kintu amar kacche je protiggya bhange, shey moray jaye.” (Since you have made a promise within these four walls, you will die if you don’t get married by your next birthday. I don’t want you to die, but whoever breaks a promise made to me, does.)
But I didn’t say a word! He said my nod was my proxy for a verbal promise. Talk about backfire! Continue reading “The Economics of Our Loins”