Abuse of Religion

A few day ago, a case about domestic violence raised storm over a cup of tea. A lady professor of Dhaka University was severely beaten by her educated engineer husband. The husband not only beat her badly, but also pull out her eyes with his fingers and made her permanently blind. He escaped right after the oppression. At first the reason behind this torture was not known. That’s why, people from every sphere of life protested against the violence and they demanded for justice. After someday, the husband was caught by police and he made several excuses to save his back. One of the excuses was extra-marital affair. He said that his wife was having an extra-marital affair with a person in abroad, but he didn’t show any evidence. As soon as his statement was published through media, some people, especially men, started to oppose the women. They were kind of supporting the husband just because the woman was blamed with an extra-marital affair. Suppose the woman really had an affair with someone, but still it is not expected from an educated man to bit her wife like anything. He could have divorced her for not being loyal.

That time I was thinking that men started to oppose her because of the way they think of women. I have noticed a tendency among most of the men that whatever wrong happens in the society, such as—rape, eve-teasing, or adultery, they blame women for it. As if men don’t have any brain to think. Now that I have read the journal, named “Religion and Gender,” I came to know that it was some religious transcripts that created the idea that women are supposed to be sinful and are liable to lure men and lead them to destruction. The irony is, it also mentioned there that women are mentally weak and they are not as intellectual as men. If so, then how can women lure men to commit sin? As men are more intelligent than women, they should have understood women’s intention and keep themselves safe from them.

I feel so helpless when I see people blaming women for each and everything. I believe that those transcripts written about women are not accurate. In my opinion, they are misinterpreted or just created falsely by some men who don’t want a respectable place for women in the society. More detailed research should be done about religion and also advocated to general people so that they stop thinking women as devil or sinful.

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Where’s the Space for Women?

A few days ago we read a journal titled “Narrating Location: Space, Age, and Gender among Bengali Elders in East London” by Katy Gardner. In this journal, the writer mentions about the changes in the life of the Bengali migrants in London. While studying that journal we learned about spaces and consequently, the matter of women’s availability on the roads of Chittagong came up. According to my friends, there are fewer women seen on the roads of Chittagong. From that moment I was thinking about the reason behind it.

In the context of Chittagong, most of the people here have got a conservative outlook. Moreover, the number of housewives is larger than the number of the working women. Housewives in Bangladesh remain busy with their household chores most of the time; therefore, they don’t get enough time or they don’t feel the necessity to go outside and hang out. Their world avails around their home and their family and I guess housewives in everywhere have the same condition. Even if they are not seen on the road more often, there are some places where you will find mostly women; for example, shopping complexes, super markets, kitchen markets, and beauty salons, where they are supposed to be. Still they are not seen on roads because they feel comfortable to take privet or public transports like, rickshaws, CNGs, or cars. That’s the same in case of girl students and working women. They tend to use transports to go somewhere, sometimes at a short distance as well. There is a strong reason for that as well. Women of different ages are not comfortable to walk on the streets because they are susceptible to be teased by boys. A statistic shows that during the period of January-July 2010, about 13,000 women fell victim to eve teasing around Bangladesh (“Eve Teasing in Bangladesh”). Having an unfavorable condition like this, no family wants to send their women out on the streets, no matter the family is conservative or liberal. Even if I belong to a liberal family, my mother also doesn’t want me to go outside after evening.

So, there are several reasons for which women are not seen on the roads. I don’t know the situation in other countries, but regarding the present condition in Bangladesh, it will take time to change the view and I hope that someday women will be able to have their space and move freely on the roads.

Work Cited

“Eve Teasing in Bangladesh.” Lawyers N Jurists Resource Directory. Web. 24 June 2011. <http://resources.lawyersnjurists.com/articles-and-assignment/articlesjournals/eve-teasing-in-bangladesh-3/&gt;.

When It’s Okay to Lie

A dialogue between me and my mother over cell phone:

Mother: “Where are you? Do you know what time it is?”

Me: “Maa, I’m on my way to home. Just got stuck in a never ending jam. Don’t worry.”

Mother: “Ok, come fast. I have made pakoras for you and it’s getting cold.”

I often say this to my mother when I meet my friends after a long time and get so engrossed with them in gossiping that I totally forget about the time. After reading the article, named “The Truth about Lying” by Judith Viorst, I was wondering whether these lie is a protective lie or a trust-keeping lie. I tell this kind of lie not to protect myself because I know she won’t scold me or give me any punishment for being late. I tell these lie to keep my mother away from worrying about me. Again, my mother trusts me a lot. She believes that I can never lie to her, I can never do anything wrong behind her back. Eventually, it is true. I never lie to her except this kind of minor lies. Sometimes, I think by myself that I’m doing a wrong thing. Somehow, I’m breaking her trust, but at least I’m not doing anything that can bring shame for my family or offend my parents. I just want to spend a little bit more time with my friends. It’s just a small piece of lie. I never lie to her in serious cases. Moreover, I never continue to lie for getting late. Sometimes, the dialogue after returning home is like this:

Mother: “Have you seen the time? Why you took so long?”

Me (with a grin on my face): “Sorry Maa. I met with my friends after a long time. That’s why; I was so engaged with talking to them.”

Mother: “Ok. Go and change. Tea is ready.”

We can’t generalize that a lie is indeed a lie, no matter it is small or big. Sometimes, we just don’t want to bother ourselves with unnecessary issues that we can avoid with a small piece of lie. Again, this kind of small lies sometime degenerate the situation. I could do something very offensive while telling those lies, but I never did and I don’t dare to do. So, I guess it varies from person to person. Those who are susceptible to do something wrong behind those white lies, should not continue to lie. They need to refrain themselves from telling lies.

In my opinion, a lie is okay until it’s not misleading someone, causing a big issue, or creating another lie. A proverb says, “Lying is the mother of all kind of crimes.” So, we should never tell such kind of lie that can cause a crime or create another lie. Otherwise, it’s just okay.

Variations of Manners

In the essay “The Anthropology of Manners” by Edward T. Hall, I read about different manners of different countries and their people. Manners and codes of conduct vary from country to country, society to society. For example, I have observed different ways to greet elders in different localities. Once in Calcutta, an elderly person had come to visit us in my grandparent’s home. Then, I had greeted him just by saying “Namashkar.” Right after that, one of my aunts corrected me that I should touch his feet as he is much elder than me, but I was excused because I belong to a different country where the custom may vary. Eventually, in Bangladesh, the manner is sort of the same. People here touch the feet of their elders, especially, elderly relatives as well. Again, this manner sometimes varies from family to family. In one of our neighborhoods, grandparents are respected in a very interesting manner. Whenever their grandparents used to visit them, they used to wash grandparents’ feet with their hand at first and then kiss them on the feet. On the other hand, in my family, touching others feet except parents is prohibited. My grandfather himself has
made this rule. As he is a very religious person, he says that nobody should bow their head in front of anyone except Allah and their parents, who gave birth to them.

In addition, the essay reminded me of a novel named America by Md. Zafar Iqbal, a famous novelist of Bangladesh. In this novel, he has shared experiences he had on his living in the United States for several years. Before going there, he learned to eat with spoon and practiced to say “excuse me” after sneezing. Still he had to face difficulties regarding different manners there. However, through his novel, I had come to know a manner the people of the USA follow to eat a banana, which seemed to me very funny. They eat a banana by peeling the skin fully and holding it tightly in the hand! I have never seen an American eating a banana, that’s
why I wonder whether it’s true or not.

However, it is manners that makes people different from each other. Manners of other countries may seem to us weird, but at the same time our manners may seem ridiculous to others. So, we should have respect for different kind of manners of different countries, and I think it’s a good idea to try to follow the manners of the country we visit to so that we don’t feel isolated or embarrassed.

Our Heat and Rain

Nature plays a huge role in one’s childhood as one remains closest to the nature in that period of time. In the chapter “Heat And Rain,” we read about the nature around Vasant Moon when he was a child. Reading the chapter I got to know that how his childhood orientedaround the nature. He used to steal fruit from the tree, catch crabs from the river, and dance in the rain along with other boys. It seems like nature used be a mother to them. They enjoyed the endless blessing of the nature. At the same, they also had to tolerate the wrath of nature during summer. For a time being, they had to face the scorching heat of the sun, but after someday, rain used to bring them relief. I also hear the same kind of stories of childhood from my uncles and father.

Hearing all these stories, I can’t even think of comparing my childhood with them. The total scenario of a childhood in urban area is completely different than the one in rural area. I spent my childhood amongst a concrete jungle, which was full of buildings, traffic jam, and noise. Picking unknown fruits and eating them was quiet impossible for me because they could cause illness. I couldn’t dare to think about catching something from the river or even pond as I didn’t know how to swim. I don’t know that even
now.  I guess these are the same condition in case of most of my peers. We were kind of detached from the Mother Nature. Most of us get introduced with the nature while reading science in schools. We don’t even feel the heat of summer and the shower of rain
now-a-days. We can feel the cold of December in summer by seating in an air-conditioned room. When it rains, we just enjoy the view from our bedrooms, holding a mug of hot coffee. It’s not like we never want to dance in the rain, but most of the time we just defer to our parents. So, that’s how our childhood was, which is continuing till now. Unfortunately and most probably, it will continue to our next generations as well.

At last, I would like to end with a funny story that stroke my mind while reading this chapter. The story is about my father when he was a child and used to live in a village. There were several date trees in that village, and owner of those trees used to hang clay jars on their top to collect date juice dripping from there. At night, my father along with his friends used to steal those jars and drink the juice. After that, they used to show their generosity by hanging those jars to the same place. Instead of hanging the jars empty, the boys used to pee in those jars so that the owners couldn’t get to know about the theft at first when they came to collect them at the early morning. So, that’s the way my father’s childhood was, which sometimes makes me very jealous of him.

Polashi Moholla

 I had spent only the first eight years of my life there, but the place was the world to me from when I was able to memorize things. I was merely an eight-year-old kid when I left that place, but still I can visualize it clearly in my mind whenever I close my eyes. The name of the locality, or moholla, was Polashi. This is the place where I was born; this is the place I feel very connected to even now.

The moholla was in the centre point of the capital, Dhaka. It was surrounded by some of the best educational institutions, historical monuments, mosques and temples. It does not mean that the dwellers of the moholla were mostly scholars or religious personalities. Almost all of them were businessmen, who were not that educated. The young generation was not educated much as well. Most of them were high school dropouts. After dropping out, boys used to lead a vagabond life for a while and then join their fathers’ business, and girls were married off immediately.

For eight-year-old me, the moholla was oriented around the two side of a street because my home was situated beside the street. On both sides of the street, there was footpath, and along with the footpath there were buildings, one-storied tin-shaded houses, and business centers. The moholla was the world to me because I could find everything around there. There were grocery shops, kitchen markets, factories, bakeries, a mosque, a school, hardware shops, stationary shops, a club, a dustbin and a playing field. The street was linked with a wide road which went to somewhere I did not know. The street ended with a wall, where we had to stop while playing chhowa-chhui. To me, the world used to end there.

Basically, the moholla was always noisy more or less. The azan from the mosque in the early morning used to wake everyone up. The morning used to be busy for the children and their mother as they have to go to school and their mothers had to make them ready. Around 8.00 am in the morning, boys and girls were seen walking to their school carrying a schoolbag on their back. After a couple of hours, the street again became busy with the opening of the shops. Only during the midday, the street would be a little bit quiet because at that time everyone used to take a nap at home after taking lunch. Shops also remained closed then. The street became full of life again when the sun was about to set. Boys and girls used to play in the playground. Sometimes they used to occupy even the street to play cricket. This was the only time when the housewives could take a break from their household chores. They used to visit the neighborhood and gossip with their peers beside the footpath, but never in front of the highest building of the street because the mother of its owner had died for being pushed from its terrace. People said that the lady was pushed by her daughter-in-law. That’s why, a hatred used to work inside everyone for the building. The whole street used to get captured with mouth-watering scent of fried snacks and cakes that were sold beneath a tree by an old man. On the opposite of him, someone used to sell spicy muri-vorta, a dish made of puffed rice and spices. It was so tasty that I can feel it’s taste even now. After the sunset, some children used to continue to play, while some children were ready finish their daily homework. They used to shout so loudly while memorizing their lessons that one could hear them standing far away from their house. As night became darker, men only were seen on the street. Those few people who were service-holders used to gossip and have tea in the club right after returning from office, instead of going home. The street remained noisy till midnight. After that, it was only a security guard in the street who used to blow his whistle and make sure that everything was alright. Sometimes, loud honk of trucks used to wake us up from sleep when they passed through the wide road linked with the street.

Beside all this, the moholla used to observe everything whole-heartedly, no matter it was a religious festival or a strike called by the opposition party. Sometime people had to hide beneath their bed to save themselves from the attack of the strikers. Youths of the moholla used to play music loudly over sound boxes during Eid and Puja. The moholla could be used to as model of brotherhood because Hindus and Muslims used to stay and observe their festivals together. I don’t know how, but everyone was known to everyone. That’s why, the whole street seemed like a family to me. Everyone cheered at everyone’s joy and mourned at sorrow. It was my birthday when we had to leave the moholla. For this reason, the celebration of my birthday was held five days before it. It was more like a farewell party than a birthday party. While leaving the moholla, I felt like something was getting torn out from me for which I was getting disconnected. For several years, it seemed to me like I was living out of the world. Till now, whenever I visit the moholla, I feel like I have returned to my home. This was the place where I had started my life, my education, which makes me so attached with it. This was my neighborhood, about which I cannot stop talking. The people and the infrastructure of the moholla can change, but the memories and my feelings are unchangeable.

Untouchables in My Society

As far as I have read the autobiography of Vasant Moon, named Growing Up As Untouchables In India, it reminded me of the incidents and prejudices I have encountered in West Bengal, India. There are several castes in the society by which people’s job and social status is determined. I can remember the names of different castes. Brahmins are the top caste and they are supposed to be pundits and operate religious activities. They are respected by everyone and considered as scholars. After that, the caste is Kshatriya. People of this caste are considered as warriors. Though they are not involved with war now, they also have a respectful position in the society. The lower castes in the society are Vaissha and Shudra, who are supposed to serve the society and do odd jobs like maids, scavengers, sweepers, and laborers. Though things there have changed to a great extent, still it exists. I had seen separate hand pumps and temples for the lower castes as they are untouchables. Some extreme Brahmins used to take bath and wash their clothes if they touched or were touched by any lower caste people. Marriages between two different castes are impossible and if it happened, it used to be a great shame for the higher caste family. Even if the lower caste people become rich by hardship, they are not accepted to the upper castes.

Seeing all these social norms and prejudices, I used to sigh with relief that my social structure is not like this. But when I observed my society more closely, I questioned myself, “Is my society really free from any hierarchy?” The answer is, “NO.” The two castes in my society are the rich and the poor. Though there isn’t anything like untouchables, the social status and jobs are kind of determined by these two words. The poor are likely to do odd jobs and serve the rich. Marriages between rich and poor rarely happen and even if it happens for any circumstances, it is a shame for the rich. Thankfully, the conditions are not that extreme. At least the rich don’t take bath or sweep their home if the poor entered. Moreover, there are opportunities for the poor to change their condition and social status. Thus they can be accepted to the rich. So, eventually, no society I guess has got equality in it. Every society has this rich and poor division more or less, which I think can never be diminished totally.

Making The Right Choice

The poem “The Road Not Taken,” written by Robert Frost, portrays the confusion that we certainly face in a stage of our life. Life gives us several choices to choose, which makes us confused. We don’t understand which way to take and which way would be better for us. At first, when I read the poem, I felt like the poem says, “It’s better to choose the way that is not chosen much by others.” But as I read again and again, I guess I got its meaning. “And both that morning equally lay/ In leaves no step had trodden black” (8-12). These lines made me realize that both roads are the same. It is not like one way is better than the other. It is just making a choice rather than standing in the forest forever. In the end of the poem, the speaker says, “I shall be telling this with a sigh/ Somewhere ages and ages hence:” (16-17). This sigh seems superficial to me because it doesn’t express the exact feelings of the speaker or whether it was out of happiness or regret. So, it doesn’t mean that if we choose the way not usually taken by others, we will succeed.

In my opinion, making an unusual choice is interesting. The poem reminded me an incident of my life. When I was in the 9th grade, I was studying in a prestigious school of my area. After studying there for one and a half year I found out that the school has got a corrupted principal and several biased teachers. I was too frustrated to concentrate on my studies for this reason. Gradually, my parents also got to know about this and they proposed me to change my school in the middle of the academic year. They advised me to get admitted into a different school which was very new and had not many students.

I was in such a dilemma that time. Some of my friends and senior brothers told me to stay in that school because it is a famous one and it will be foolish of me if I leave. On the other hand, because of inattentiveness, I was having bad grades. I also didn’t know anything about that new school and its quality. Finally, I just quit the “prestigious” school and got admitted in the new school. I won’t say that it was clever of me because I didn’t know whether the decision was good for me or not. However, now I say to myself with a happy sigh that the decision of changing the school was the best decision ever taken by me. I passed with the best result and it was possible for the caring teachers of that new school.

Embarrassing Mothers

When I read the story “Double Face” by Amy Tan, I felt pity for Lindo Jong. Waverly was talking to her in front of the hairstylist like Lindo was a deaf or couldn’t understand English. Lindo was feeling ashamed of herself that her old-fashioned appearance was embarrassing her daughter. It is true that sometime our parent’s behavior or appearance embarrasses us in front of our friends, but it’s not fair to behave with them like they are worthless. We can just avoid or overlook the situation when they embarrass us in front of others. Lindo smiled back to Waverly when she talked with her like she is a frail old lady. Actually, she was ashamed of herself, and to hide that she just used her American face, so that her daughter didn’t understand her feeling.  So, it means that though Waverly was Lindo’s daughter, she didn’t understand her mother. Again, she was blaming herself for that because she was not able to raise Waverly properly. Sometimes, parents’ upbringing is responsible for a child’s this kind of rude behavior. So, it is better to teach children how to respect their parents at an early age.

The story reminded me of one incident when I paid a visit to one of my friends home. Normally my friend was very soft-spoken and polite to us. Suddenly, her mother came to serve us snacks and talked with us a little bit. While talking with us she commented about something that was not plausible. Suddenly my friend got angry and shouted loudly at her mother. I was shocked at her this kind of behavior which was totally unexpected. I can’t even think about talking to my mother like that. I don’t know how her mother felt at that time, but I really felt it embarrassing. I left her home right after that.

Fortunately, I have never faced this kind of situation. On the contrary, my parents intentionally want to embarrass me in front of my friends because of the mass I create in my bedroom. Nothing in my room is placed orderly. That’s why when my friends come to visit me, my mother shows them my bedroom and wants to embarrass me. Then instead of embarrassment I grin so widely as if it’s a credit to make a bedroom mass. So, the trick of my mother to make me organized doesn’t work at all and my bedroom continues to be a mass. 😀

Messages and Metamessages

When I read the essay named “Talk in the Intimate Relationship: His and Hers” by Deborah Tannen, I discovered a reason for breaking of relationships, especially relationship between spouses. Relationship between husband and wife is one of the most beautiful bonding in the world. It’s a relationship where two different persons get along with each other for lifetime. Sometimes, it does not last for long. It happens for several misunderstandings. The conflict of messages and metamessages can be a reason for this. Wives expect their husbands to understand their feeling without expressing it. On the other hand, husbands want their wives to share with them everything. Both of them are right in their own place. It is fair enough when a wife wants her husband to ask how her day was or give her a compliment for something. It happens mostly with housewives who spend the whole day in home and at evening their tired husbands return. Again, we can’t blame the husbands as well. They spend a busy time and sometimes tensions regarding work pile around them. That’s why they may not pay attention to their wives. Moreover, males are straightforward, so they may like their wives to be straightforward too. Husbands simply don’t understand their wives’ metamessages as they think practically, but being emotional is also fair enough. After all, people have to be emotional in case of expressing their love. Being practical has nothing to do with that.

Well, I can guess a solution to this problem. I think it is better if women quit conveying metamessages to their husbands and don’t expect them to understand their untold feelings. They should learn to be practical like them. Then if someday their husbands ask them how their day was, or be able to catch their metamessages, it will be like a surprise to the wives and they will be delighted. So, quit expecting and be overwhelmed with the unexpected happiness.

Eventually, I had better give this suggestion to my mother because the same thing happens between my parents, who are happily married for 31 years. My father never gives her any gift on special occasions like wedding anniversary, Valentine’s Day and birthday. Mother becomes bitterly disappointed when he does so and complains to us in front him. Then my father says that everything he has belong to her too; al; she has to do is to demand. He adds that how he can know what she wants or not. This kind of confusions of messages and metamessages between my parents sometime irritates me and sometime makes me laugh. Couples have to be more understanding to each other for avoiding this problem.