Religion and Women

While reading the article, “Religion and Gender,” many thoughts and questions gripped me. First, I wondered why there were only male Gods in every religion except for Hinduism. When I read about the transformation of power from the hands of female Goddesses into the hands of male Gods, I had a question, “Is women’s biology the major cause for suppression of women and their loss of power?” This may be true to some extent since the female Goddesses had to bear children and rear them.

 

The other thing that continuously haunted my mind is, “Why are women regarded as sinful, cheap, root of all evils, devil’s gateway, and so on?” I was heartbroken to encounter all these titles given to women by all the religions in some way. At the mean time, I remembered about Hindu Goddess, Durga, who is regarded as the most powerful Goddess and is provided with weapons and power by all other Gods, according to Hindu religious texts. More importantly, the major Hindu festivals are celebrated on the praise of Goddesses. Isn’t it ironic then to consider women as “the root of all evils” by the same religion?

 

When talking to one of my classmates, she said that when questioned Allah whom to give high respect and position, he had said, “Mother”. Only the fourth time he had mentioned about father. This shows that Islam has such higher status for women, but the same Islam again regards men superior to women.

 

The reading at first quite depressed me, but later I had more logical thoughts regarding it. I came to the deduction that in the beginning of civilization, men were the ones who had first access to the religious texts. They were the ones who wrote them, if not they were the ones to interpret those religious texts. It is common that whoever finds a way to dominate other group will not hesitate to manipulate the main message for their group benefits. Thus, it may have been the same to cover the aspects that prioritize women and bring into light the bad aspects of women in those religious texts.

 

Despite the fact that this reading was depressing to learn, it was thought provoking at the same time. It is after this reading that my desire to read the religious text books of the religion I follow has become more intense so that I can find out what actually is written there, and what we need to take from there and what to leave behind.

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Choice of ‘Death Place’

While reading the article, “Narrating Location: Space, Age and Gender among Bengali Elders in East London” by Katy Gardner, I could not refrain my thoughts regarding death. As Gardner quotes Hannerz, who says, “The earth where I’ve buried my father is where I want to be buried.” This sentence compelled me to make my own notion about choosing my ‘death place.’ While I went through the text, I found the Bengali families working hard in Britain all their youth but wanting to die in their own motherland, Bangladesh. In this regard, I realized that I share different view. For me, as long as people work for their country and contribute something to the human race, it does not matter where they die. If they pour their sweat and toil in foreign land and flourish the economy of that land, what is the use of occupying the space of home country coming back just to rest their old and weak body? Saying this, I am still answerless for why people take the place of dying with such strong feelings?

 

On thinking about it with more objective view, I somehow found answers to my question regarding ‘death place.’ I realized that the Bengali migrants in the article had ended up in Britain lacking job in Bangladesh. Moreover, these Bengalis had sent remittance to Bangladesh. The other point that made me to think about my argument of “sweat and toil” is that these migrants had changed themselves to adjust with the situation and environment of the host country, and once they change themselves, it is difficult to retreat back to past habits and behaviors. In addition, these migrants in Britain are used to more sophisticated life than Bangladesh and they are accustomed to receiving government services, which are not available in Bangladesh. Thus, I came to the conclusion that it was a way of showing their respect to their motherland for those who wish to take their last breath in their own homeland. However, these people are somewhat selfish because they want their relatives to pay tribute at their funeral, which is not possible if they die in foreign land.

 

Although I tried think about ‘death place’ from two different sides, I still hold my view that it makes no difference where I take my last breath. The only thing that matters is whether I contribute to my home country or not.

Telling Lies

While going through the essay, “The Truth about Lying” by Judith Viorst, I first felt that I have not lied about anything yet. I said to myself, “I always speak the truth. I cannot remember anything that I have lied about.” Later when I started to ponder about the categories of lies as classified by Viorst, I began to see my lies. I thought that whatever I said before about telling lies was also a part of lies that I speak. Is not that ironic?

When talking about telling lies, I remember lying my mother often for the sake of my close friend. I often used to help her with her dates by telling both her and mine mother that we were going for shopping. If we were late, we would come up with another lie, “We met our friends on the way, so we are late.” If I have to classify this lie according to Viorst, this was a peace-keeping lie.

I remember myself as a student studying in grade nine, when I had decided not to tell lies at any cost. It was not a path of pain that would hurt me if I stopped telling any sort of lies. Under certain conditions, I used to observe acute silence and would pretend as if my lips were locked together. Despite my strong determination, I was trapped once. We were arranging for a picnic from Val Vikas Club of our school. The criteria were regular attendance and active involvement in club activities. This led to the dispute that two of my classmates would not be allowed to go. I was in-charge of the whole thing. As I have mentioned above, I was not in any condition to tell lie to the advisor and the club members so that they could join us. However, I had to lie and fake the attendance sheet. I felt guilty of myself and very weak for not being able to keep my promise.

I was upset and I can vividly see my best friend consoling me while walking past the playground of the school. She said that it was ok to lie under certain circumstances. That very day, she gave me a good sentence to remember throughout my life. “If your lie saves someone’s life, or does no harm to any one, then do not feel bad about lying, but never lie your heart.”

Lost Baby Girl

The bright spring morning

Came with unusual light.

The flowers bloomed prettier.

Alas! Their scent unnatural.

 

 

There stopped a car,

On 26 Highway.

Towards my house,

Headed a small family.

 

 

Cops were standing by —

On the 26 Highway,

The small family moved inside

Welcomed by my parents.

 

 

They called me in.

I saw my mother

Wet with a monsoon of tears —

Winter gripped me.

 

 

I was asked to take a seat.

The small family stared at me;

Their eyes shared happiness,

Yet hid tears of pain.

 

 

The father of the small family —

A fair, middle-aged man;

Wise eyes but unfamiliar face

Held firmly his wife’s hand.

 

 

The mother, a pretty white lady;

Motherly love in her eyes

Seemed as if waiting to take hold

Her child tightly against her chest.

 

 

There smiled a teenage boy across from me.

A slim, handsome and smart adolescent

Had brotherly affection on his face.

No sign of teenage attraction.

 

 

My father — a man in his late fifties,

Cleared his throat.

Put his right hand around my mother’s shoulder.

My mother — a woman in her late thirties.

 

 

He began a story.

Without any background information,

I was left listening to it attentively;

And infer why the spring morning was weirdly bright.

 

 

The room observed dead silence.

The story began:

 

Birth of a child

Couples in an unfamiliar country.

 

Stormy day with thunder and lightning.

Husband out for ticketing,

Wife asleep with her six-month-old baby by her side,

Two-and-half-year-old son teasing his baby sister.

 

 

Suddenly everything grew darker.

When the light creped inside the darkness,

The family lost their Baby Girl.

Mother fainted, son cried, father ran here and there.

 

 

Vain! Went in vain all their search.

The family returned to their homeland.

Happiness became a mythical dream

Which none of them dared to dream of.

 

 

The Baby Girl was carried

To the remote part of the country,

Replaced for a-year-old Baby child

Whose soul had just separated from her body.

 

 

The replacer found it a safer way

To hid the Baby Girl.

Abductionists were to pull

A great deal of revenge and possession.

 

 

Years passed.

No one, not even the dead Baby child’s parents

Knew the Baby Girl wasn’t theirs’.

Left alone the abductionists and the dead Baby Child’s grandfather.

 

 

The crime was no more hidden

Immediately after the abductionists were nailed.

The spark of hope

Illuminated the household of the small family.

 

 

The small family filled with joy

Visited the remote part.

Found out where their Baby Girl

Was growing up as a teenager now.

 

 

At this point of story,

My mother’s sobbing destroyed the silence.

She came to me and hugged me tightly.

“You are my own child; my own blood and flesh.”

 

 

Unspoken fear ran inside  me.

My father spelled it out —

“You are their lost Baby Girl.

Our child was dead. We are childless.”

 

 

For the first time,

I saw him with tearful eyes.

After that an hour long story,

I was no more a daughter of my father and mother.

 

 

The room nearly flooded with the downpouring of tears.

For the timing, I felt I was no one of nowhere.

The small family,

Were related to me by birth and blood.

 

 

There were enough evidences

To prove to me their lost Baby Girl.

My blood-related parents found their Baby Girl.

I lost my father and mother— a whole self of me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Manners

After reading the article, “The Anthropology of Manners” by Edward T. Hall, I got to know about different sets of manners in different cultures. At the same time, I too came up with many questions and doubts about the author balancing his article. No doubt the writer has presented us varied set of manners in his article, but very often his American idea of manners seems to dominate over other cultures’ notion of manners.

In the very first paragraph, he says, “Americans are shocked when they go abroad and discover whole groups of people behaving like goops—eating with their fingers, making noises and talking while eating.” As soon as I encountered this sentence, my perception towards the writer changed. I had thought that I could go alongside with Hall in his article and share his opinion. Conversely, I thought it was impossible after having encountered this sentence. Once a student of Sociology and Anthropology, I was excited to read this article and was eager to learn many things about people’s manners in varied atmosphere. The practice of using fingers while eating may seem weird to many Americans, but it seems to be a casual thing in many South-Asian cultures. So being a South-Asian, I felt quite dissatisfied with Hall, comparing “Goops” and those eating with fingers. However, I was consoled when I re-read the sentence and found him saying, “…, making noises and talking while eating.” While it may be a bad thing for Americans to talk while eating, it may not sound so serious for other cultures unless people try to talk with their mouth full.

Despite this, I am quite impressed by Hall’s minute observation and comparison of our daily habits among different cultures. I am alarmed by his mention of time and space in different cultures. I think it is very essential for us especially, who have to deal with students and teachers from different cultures. On being conscious of this fact after reading Hall’s article, I came to infer that the whole set of manners depends upon the type of culture one grows up in.

Though dissatisfied with Hall’s American point of view on some issues of manners, I admit that it was both knowledgeable and informative to read his article. After reading his article, my perception towards people’s behavior around me have changed. I no more dislike them for their manners; instead I take it as a result of cultural variation.

Poverty is Stealing

When I read the lines dealing with the act of stealing brush by Vasant Moon in the chapter, “Dev Master’s Curse Fails”, the first thing that came into my mind was, Poverty is Stealing. Moon’s poverty coerced him to pick up Tambe’s brush since he did not own one. Though he had Hari Patil, his benefactor, who was more than happy to help him, he was much embarrassed to vomit out his poverty for a brush.

Moon was involved in the act of stealing time and again. He, along with Sukhya, Gangya, and Bala, stole fruits  to satisfy their hunger. They even offered the left over to younger children and sometimes to their families as well. It seemed to be a normal act to steal fruits to Vasant and his friends, and they were not punished for that. A different fear ran inside me when I pictured these acts of stealing while reading, “Heat and Rain”. I thought what if they turn to develop this habit into a means to run their livelihood. The stealing of fruits can serve as foundation for severe forms of stealing in the future. My fear somewhat came true when I encountered Moon picking up the fallen brush of Tambe and putting it inside his bag. Although my fear slightly went away with the guilty feeling of Moon, I could not resist thinking about other boys, Moon’s friends, who did not go to school. There were chances for some of them to turn into infamous thieves in the future.

When I reached to the part where Moon drank cold water to comfort his empty stomach at night, I thought he had no choice than to steal fruits from the neighborhood and surrounding area to satisfy his hunger. After reading these acts of stealing and the remorse of Moon, I became quite sympathetic towards thieves. On the other hand, I got the point that there is always some social factors responsible for crimes and anarchisms in the society.

While I was picturing and reasoning the situation as described by Moon, I could not resist myself thinking about the speaker’s tragedy in “What is Poverty?” by Jo Goodwin Parker. I tried to compare Moon’s family and the speaker of Parker’s essay’s family and come to the conclusion whose life was more miserable; I could not. In fact, both the families were the victims of severe forms of poverty.

My Postponed Dream

While reading the poem, “My Family” by Garrison Keillor, I was deeply touched by the line, “Of dreams postponed and finally lost”. I read this line aloud time and again to understand the underlying pain in this line. I could picture an old man lamenting upon his decision in the past to set aside his dream and settle down before fulfilling his dream. Once we choose to push back our dreams, we can hardly get back to it in the future and often times it is lost. This is similar to the lost dream of John, the old man, in the poem.

While talking about postponed dreams, I remember the time right after my grade ten. I had around three months break before I could go to a higher secondary school. I thought about preserving all the memories of my grandmother, who used to share about her life before I was born. I thought of writing a biography about her, and I used to spend a lot of time listening to her past life. For me, her stories were very unique and I could clearly see the places, pictures, and events in front of my eyes as she used to describe them to me. So one day, I sat down to begin writing about her. I tore many pages and spent five whole hours trying to begin writing about her. Today, I regret for what I did after writing the first page spending five hours on it. I just pushed my notebook aside and thought I would continue it later. Time went on. I never opened the notebook or tried to continue writing. Now, I have forgotten many details of the stories she told me then. In addition, she is ninety-six year old and she has hard time remembering her past life. Even if she remembers, she mixes up one with the other. Thus, I thought that the poet was indirectly referring to me in that very line telling about postponed dreams.

However, after reading the poem, “A Dream Deferred” by Langston Hughes, a spark of enlightenment ran inside me. I realized that our unfulfilled dreams are stored in our subconscious and they always seek outlet. This also alarmed me not to repress my dream for a longer period of time as it may explode someday. Thus, I plan to fulfill my dream that I had postponed many years back.

My Choice

Reading the poem, “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost reminded me of the time when I was in a state of dilemma. I had a hard time figuring out which stream to choose for my further study I had completed my grade ten. Similar to the speaker of the poet, I too had two options in front of me. I had a choice whether to study Business Studies or to hear my inner call and join Humanities stream.

I did as the speaker of the poet did. I looked the both options more closely. First I saw where I would land taking Business Studies. May be I was dragged by this field because of easy access to employment after my graduation. Then suddenly, I looked what I would become if I chose to join Humanities. This was the subject that had interested me since a long time. I was threatened by my elder cousins that I would land being a teacher, if I chose this field. Then I  researched and knew that I could be what I had dreamed about, media personnel, if I chose Mass Communication and Journalism Studies as my major. I was relieved then. At that moment, I felt like I had made a big victory by the simple act of deciding which course to take.

However, it was not as easy for me to answer everyone who had assumed that I would be a Science student. Sometimes I even did not have any word to answer their repetitive questions like, “What will you do studying Humanities?” The thing was similar to what the speaker of the poem has said: “Because it was grassy and wanted wear; / Though as for that the passing there / Had worn them really about the same,” (8-10).

I was the only one to choose Humanities among the pass outs from my school. So it seemed to me as if no one studied this subject. However, I later found out that the number of students studying Humanities were the same as Management or Science and sometimes even more.

Today, when I look at myself, I feel satisfied with the choice I made three years before. Similar to the speaker of the poem, I can say people with pride that choosing to be a student of Humanities was a milestone for me to be a part of AUW and land in this affluent learning environment.

Knowing your Mother

How well do you feel connected to your mother? Do you know your mother’s history before you were born? Or before your father met her?

After reading the section, “Queen Mothers of the Western Skies” in the novel The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tam, I started to love mother even more than before. The last section of the novel has indirectly but strongly said that no matter what, mothers always want their children to be good. Many times, we may feel indignant towards our mother like Jing-mei feels for being forced for piano class. We can also see Waverly blaming her mother for her failed marriage. The daughters in the novel have no idea what their mothers’ life had been like before they were born. We can take Lena as the example. She thinks that her mother, as a poor girl, was rescued by her father. She does not know that her mother was born and brought up in a rich family in China, and her father had courted her for four years. On the other hand, Suyuan stands for a mother’s love and hope for her long-lost daughters. Despite of long years of disappointment, she had the hope of finding her lost two daughters in China.

Reading between the lines of the novel, I imagined my mother sitting on a sofa in the sitting room with me on her lap and telling me how her life had been before she was married to my father. It is from that day, five years before, I feel that I am a part of my mother and that she  lives within me. That day, she had given me a part of herself like Ying-Ying thinks of giving Lena her tiger spirit recollecting all her past and pain. My mother did not have a tiger spirit like Ying-Ying to give me, but her childhood memories of being born in a rich family like Ying-Ying. Before my mother gave me her spirit, I too used to listen to others as Waverly, and as a matter of fact, I did hurt her too.

So, after my own experience and the stories of the novel, I can tell that mothers never ever think evil of their children. In fact, childrren should try to communicate to them and know about their history that will make us aware about the ups and downs in life and we can feel more connected to them.

Pearson’s Course

Reading the article “Relation 101” I wondered what the course designed by Marline Pearson at Madison Area Technical College in Madison was like. I found the article interesting where it said that the course was to foster smooth relationships between couples and learn about love. At some point, I wished we had this course in our university as well.

However, Beth Bailey’s quote brought me into consciousness. The quote said, “People fall in love. It’s not something where you can go down a checklist and match people up by scientific formula.” To some degree, I agree with Bailey. Love is not something you can measure and moreover you cannot force yourself to love someone who meets your criteria. This does not mean that I am against Pearson’s course. Here, I would like to answer Bailey. We all accept love happens itself, without you knowing it. But how many people have relationship out of conflict and tensions? In many love relationships, a gloomy cloud of misunderstanding casts an evil spell. In my opinion, the course would help couples understand their partners and get some tips that are usually successful in maintaining good relationships. As Sarah Brown brings up the fact about the demand of this course, Bailey should have once thought about the quest for knowledge on this matter from a larger population. In addition, the experience of Rebecca Olson after taking the course helps us to infer the underlying importance and benefits of this course for college students.

On the other hand, I think it is more about sharing experiences of one another in relation to their relationships. One can avoid certain behaviors by looking at the consequences of others who had such behaviors. Rebecca took the course to prevent the repetition of the mistake similar to her divorced parents. Moreover, as an emotional being, humans often go through ups and downs in their love life. So, at some point, this sort of courses will help them to get out of the mess and lead a normal life.

The other interesting line in the article I found was the one that said today’s emphasis was on enhancing communication skills. This sounded realistic to me. This is the age of communication and somewhere Pearson’s course seemed to cover this feature.

Thus, I found the article interesting and educational. Today, the rate of depression is increasing resulting from unhealthy love-life relations. So, this course may prevent the possible cases of depression.