The Economics of Our Loins

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”.

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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”

Who’s My Main Bane?

(in FORUM under “My Main Bane” : http://www.thedailystar.net/forum/2009/may/bane.htm)

Original:

“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?

Many human (usually acknowledged to be men), institutional and socio-cultural sergeants of suppression, actually. The demoralization, exhaustion and dehumanization propelled by the turbines of these stifling underpinnings are as tacky and have become as normal as caveman tactics. Fighting them is a given. They don’t shock me. The tiff with them is old and consistent. In that regard, they are quite sincere

The ones who intrigue me are the ones who devalue themselves. The ones who sadden me are the ones who degrade others of their own. The ones who anger me are the ones who just don’t know how to stay out of the way. The ones who crush me are the ones I have accepted as comrades without asking or being asked. The ones who shock and sabotage me the most, are these serpents in my sorority. Continue reading “Who’s My Main Bane?”