Open Your Eyes through Education!

A mother was so anxious about her only child’s sickness. She did not know what she could do for him. She was so poor and helpless. She had not enough money to give her child a better medical treatment. However, it was not possible for her to tolerate her child’s sufferings anymore. From her neighbor, she heard that there was a woman in nearby village who was famous in that area to cure people by exorcise. In return, she just received money or gold. The mother was so convinced by her neighbor’s words that she went to that village to meet with that woman. The woman told her to bring her child in her room and lock the door. The mother did so. The woman took a broom and thrashed the child with it. The child was only six years old. He was very sick to tolerate the pain of beating by the broom on him. The mother asked the woman why she beat her child in such a rude way. The woman told her that she was doing so because that child was possessed by an evil spirit and that was why he was not cured for a long time. She was beating him to frighten away that spirit as if it would go away from the child. She beat the child about fifty times. When the sick child became senseless, she told the mother she accomplished her task to run away the evil spirit. The mother gave her one thousand taka which she saved for her child through her hardship. The mother trusted the woman, but it was shocking to her when her child died at night.

It is just an imaginary story.I got the idea for writing this story from the first chapter of the autobiography Growing Up Untouchable in India by Vasant Moon where Ragho’s wife betrayed the woman as she possessed by Matamai, a goddess, because they were not educated to catch her trick. Still in many areas in this world, many uneducated, poor people are constantly being betrayed by some persons who present themselves as powerful to give them the solutions of disease or personal problems. They are used to tricking simple and uneducated people for earning money. However, the consequence of that type hypocrisy is dangerous. If we do not fulfill the theme of the slogan ‘education for all’, various superstitions and awkward beliefs among the uneducated people will lead them into the black world where they cannot see anything with their open eyes.

If You Cannot Choose One

When you make a choice means you have been able to give up some options to pick one. Making a choice never leaves humans alone. Children start making decision when they are small. In a shop, they pick a chocolate, they choose one doll among several, they do not eat some food or they sing one of the songs that they know. Later, when they grow up, they come to make choices more important and more difficult. They choose their friends, the clubs and groups to join, and the field they like to study in high school. The more they grow up, the more the situations and conditions get serious. When they are young enough, they have to choose their jobs, their houses, and their partners.

However, making a good choice is not so easy. Choosing one option means giving up the others. As a result, there should be something to evaluate the options. Children usually evaluate thing based on their emotions. They choose what is more attractive and beautiful. Later, they learn to add a little logic to their criteria. The more they get old the more they think reasonably and logically about the available options.

Emotion or logic both can be a good power to push someone for making a choice; however, it is not always the same. Sometimes, they might be in a situation that they cannot put the priority on one option. In their ideas, all options might have the same value, they cannot sacrifice any of them for the other one. Therefore, some people may ask others’ help and opinion. For example, they ask their parents, friends, a counselor or someone who has experience in that case. Some others may choose another way to get rid of this dilemma.

Here, I will tell you one way of asking opinion that some people in my society believe in, Tafaol, or Faal gereftan. When someone is unsure about something and does not know what to do, he or she can try Hafiz’s, the Persian poet, help. First, he or she is required to pray for Hafiz and then open his book of poetry, Divaan-e-Hafiz randomly. Any piece of poem, which was at the beginning of page, will imply the answer. He or she will understand which way to choose or what to do. However, this way might seem very silly for some people, some others strongly believe in that.

In conclusion, despite that making a decision has a strong relationship with our feelings or reasons, sometimes neither of them can help us. We cannot always rely on ourselves and it is better to share it with others and benefit from their helpful experiences.

The Faked Flag

In the first chapter of the autobiography Growing Up Untouchable in India, Vasant Moon describes the neighborhood, a slum area, he grew up in. Among the people he points at, there is a woman, Ragho’s wife, who took advantage of uneducated women’s faith in gods by taking them to the temple in the time of epidemic of diseases like cholera, diarrhea, or smallpox.  The women would go to temple, where Ragho’s wife pretended she is hosting the goddess’s sprit and demanded women for sacrifices such as goats and chickens.

When I read this part of the book, I was reminded of a similar situation in Afghanistan.  Last year, when I was in Kabul, I heard everyday many Shea residents of Kabul rushed to visit a holly flag installed near a mosque in Barchi district of Kabul.  There was rumor a man has brought this flag from holly shrine of Imam Husain located in Karbala, Iraq. Imam Husain, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad, has a very high place and value in Shea people’s heart. They all love him so deeply for the way he has sacrificed his family and his own life for the sake of God. Shea people celebrate his birthday every year and moan for his death in a special ceremony on Ashura Day, when all Shea people were black and cry for his loss. So you can imagine how passionately people welcome a flag from his grave and rush to visit it. I heard many people, most of whom were women, offered nazri, money or jewelry given in order to receive blessing from God or a holly character, to the boxes that were placed beside the flag by the man who claim he had brought it from Karbala. They also brought sick people with the hope Imam Husain’s love and spiritual power would cure them.  Among the sick people, I heard there has been a girl who was told her disease couldn’t be cured in Afghanistan and she needed to go immediately to a neighboring country for treatment. The girl’s father had booked a fight to Pakistan to take his daughter there for treatment. However, he had changed his mind and had brought her daughter beside this flag to be cured. Two days later the girl had died.

I remember how indignant I felt about the owner of the flag and how cruelly he had taken advantage of the innocent love and faith of some naïve and uneducated people when I heard the news about the death of the girl. I imagined in my mind how he collected the moneys and jewelries from the box every night and laughed, a sinister laughter, at the people he had cheated.

Vasanta Moon’s “Untouchables” in Nepal

The introduction of Vasanta Moon’s novel, Growing Untouchable in India, talks about the untouchablility practices in Nagpur community of India.  The autobiography  presents the reality of how people within a single religion, Hindu religion, are divided into castes and sub-castes, and how“high” caste people impel the “low” caste ones to practice the untouchablility. The Brahmans are regarded as “high” caste people because they have superlative knowledge about their traditional and ancient literacy. Whereas, some people of the same religion are called Mahars or Dalits, “the untouchables”. The Mahars are discriminated because of their “impure” occupation. Their occupations were mostly related to polluting entities, which were societies “dirty” chore. However, Moon’s gives the detail about why the Mahra had to choose the low status work in the society. The history of Mahars discrimination started during the British invasion. The British compelled Mahars to avoid the governmental official duties; snatched their power for owing land, and stopped them from communicating messages to others.  Moreover, they were treated as “inferior village servant.” On the other hand, the other people were provided high governmental status job and religious work; thus, they felt to become the high caste people.

I was astounded to know that Indian caste systems were similar to Nepalese caste systems. We Nepalese also have caste systems in which Brahmans are regarded as upper class people, and Dalits are regarded as lower caste people.  Talking about the untouchablility, still there are some remote villages in Nepal where the designated bottom caste people are not allowed to enter specific temples or even touch the holy places. As Moon explains about the Dalits who are deprived from social, economical, and political rights,  we find  similar kinds of inequalities in some places of Nepal. It is also true that the government of Nepal has promulgated the law against the untouchablility practices, but it is not completely stopped. In context to Nepal, the examples of untouchablility practices are: if a Dalit touches a Brahman, then the Brahman becomes impure and dirty like Dalits, for which he has to purify himself with some religious rituals. Another example is the water; if a Dalit touch the drinking water or even the source of the drinking water, then the water is referred as contaminated, and the Dalit is punished and disgraced badly in front his inhabiting society. Therefore many of the Indian concepts of untouchablility match with Nepalese societies of untouchables which make me curious to know further details about Moon’s biography on untouchablility.

Caste discrimination

        In Hinduism people believes in caste system. They have four casts: Brahmans (the highest caste people), Kshatriya (the warrior caste), Vaisya (agriculture caste) and Sudras (the lowest cast people). In past this caste discrimination was so sever. People in Hindu society gave the highest position to Brahmans while Sudras were treated badly. They consider them as the people who deserve less priority in every sector of life such as job, honor, education etc.

        Once upon a time there two baby boys were born at the same time, Yobraj and Nandu. Both boys were born in the Hindu families, but their caste wasn’t same. One baby was born in a Brahman family and another baby was born in a Suudra family. When they saw the light of the world, they had already categorized in two labels.

        Yobraj’s family was a Brahman family and his father was a government worker. On the other hand, Nandu’s family was a Sudra family and his father worked for Yobraj’s father. Therefore, Nandu’s family lived beside Yobraj’s family. Nandus father was a good student, but caste discrimination forced him to drop his educated.

        In childhood, Yobraj and Nandu didn’t know which family they belonged or what their caste was. They were good friends. When they were at four, their parents decided to admit them in schools. Yobraj got chance to admit in a well known, government school whereas Nandu didn’t. He read in an ordinary school. After passing their school they admitted in a government college. Gradually, they started to understand their caste because people treated them in different ways. Yobraj was taking the advantage of it. Within a short period of time Yobraj got many friends whereas students started keeping distance from Nandu. With them Yobraj also started to keep distance from Nandu. As a result one day their friendship broke.  Later on, Nandu finished his education with a good result, but Yobraj passed with a poor grades. Unfortunately, Yobraj got a government job, but Nandu didn’t. In fact, he didn’t get any prestigious job for him only because he was Sudra. His future was pre-decided by his birth.

        It is true that Nandu is an imaginary character, but like him several people are still discriminated by caste system in some parts of the world. Therefore, people doesn’t derive the prestige what they deserves. I think, it is a matter of great regret that one doesn’t honored by his deeds, he is honored by his birth. We should break down this discrimination.

The Road Not Taken and my response

When I read the poem “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost, I realize that the theme is universal. Every person in their life faces hard time to choose the right way, which will take then on the acme of success. In the poem, the narrator said that once he faced difficulties to choose one option between two roads. As the two roads were almost same, he was confused that which one will be perfect for him. He observed the both paths and decided to explore the second one as it seemed less used by travelers. Moreover, he wished that after a long time, he would be able to say that his choice was good and he would get honor and respect for his achievement.

I also faced the same problem in my life. In last year, I really had a difficult time to choose the right destination for me. In 2009, after passing my higher secondary, I tried hard to get admitted in a good university. Though I got chance in several places, I chose to get admit in Dhaka University as it is the biggest, oldest and best university of Bangladesh. As one of my uncles heard about AUW and inspired me to give admission test. As I was studying in DU, I was not so much interested about AUW. However, after giving admission I felt that I would pass the exam and I did not know that it was fortunate or unfortunate, I was called from AUW. My parents and relatives were so happy. But I was confused. Though it was hard for me to lead life in Dhaka and the facilities and environment of AUW seemed heavenly for me as I got full free studentship, I was confused to make decision. Some people were saying that if I read in DU, I would shine in my life and others were saying that even if AUW is a new university, it would be a best and exceptional university not only in Bangladesh but also in Asia. I can’t express the feeling I had that time. Lastly, I decided to come AUW and see what is going on here. It was hard for me to leave DU, but like the narrator I was hopeful that I was doing the right thing, which would make me exceptional from others. After coming here, I was happy that I have come in a right place. Though sometimes I feel confusion that I am on right way or wrong, I realize that if I give my best, I will get something desirable from here. Hopefully, I will say one day with proud that  my decision was right and I am successful because I chose the best way for me.

The Path Not Taken

There are so many paths that are not taken by me in my life.  For example, I would like to specify one incident here.  Before I came here, I was enrolled in an Advance Technological Institute and following a Higher National Diploma course in Information Technology (HND IT).  Meanwhile I was following a pharmaceutical course as well, hoping to establish a pharmacy in the future.  By the time I came here, I had completed one semester in HND IT and 25% of the pharmaceutical syllabus.  Since I was selected to AUW, I could not decide what to do, whether to continue with what I was doing or to enroll in AUW.  If I had continued those both courses simultaneously, then by next year I would have been able to settle with a job in IT field or perhaps to graduate by doing the degree externally.  However, since I came here, I will have to wait five or six years in order to complete my graduation and post graduation.

However, I did not say fail to acknowledge the positive consequences of coming to AUW.  Even though I regret for what I did not select to do, meaning, that I dropped the courses that I had been already following, I am happy about where I am now because I have got to know so many new things and learned more.

What I mean here to tell is whatever the choices that we select will obviously have both positive and negative sides as well. Therefore, we have to plan well about what we want, what our ambition is and how we to achieve that goal are.  We have to be firm with our decision and work hard for that.  We should not allow the external influences to intervene and interrupt our activities. Finally I would like to point out that we should not fail to plan. If we fail, that means, we plan to fail.  However, we have to keep in mind that fate decides the destiny and no one can change the fate.  So, whatever the plan we make are liable to have both positive and negative results.  Let’s be happy with whatever good happen thinking that everything happens for the sake of goodness.

My Own Feelings on Taking That Road

           After reading the poem “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost, I closed my eyes and let myself to be in that situation with my own imaginary feelings.

            I felt puzzled and bewildered not knowing how to choose the better between the two roads. As being taught to think credibly, I decided to consider both sides before making any decisions. Then, I randomly looked at the right one and found out it was curved. “Will it be okay to me if I pick this path while I cannot see far away what will be going on?” I asked myself. Then, I saw it was a weary road that many people had chosen. Not always being decisive and bold, I have always followed others’ ways of thinking, but at that moment, I wanted to do a different thing. Although I felt a little bit scared of what would possibly happen to me, I was still certain of what I was going to do. And I made myself calm by telling that I was going to walk on the first road some day in the near future, or if I felt regret with my first decision, I would come back and chose the latter one. “However, will it be the same as I came back, or do I have chance to come back?” I wondered.“Maybe I should choose the safer one.” “No, I will be fun if I choose the new one,” I answered myself. I inhaled and exhaled, and the feeling of desire to venture something new held on me. I picked up the other one mumbling it would be ok. In fact, it was not a bad choice because I came to realize that it was more vigorous with a lot of grass, even though I found out many people also went on this road. I pondered, “Between two of the seemingly same ways, I has taken the better one for myself. I know it is not as perfect as I expected, but I am happy with my alternative.” I dreamed of my future when I spend time telling my children with satisfaction that I have made my life differently. I will be proud of my option with a high voice, “I am the one who dared to choose the more adventurous way and I have never felt regret for my decisions”. I will be so excited to tell them my experience. I will teach them to be confident with their choices, not to feel remorseful for their options, and not to depend on other but consider what is good for them, because they are the only ones who understand their own paths.  

Thu Nguyen

Decision

At one point or the other, one comes to a stage in life wherein certain situations, it is necessary to take a decision. Just like in the poem, “The Road Not Taken,” by Robert Frost. He also faces dilemma when the single road that he was taking, at a point, diverges in to two and he has trouble deciding which road to take.

I have always asked my elders for their suggestion when I am required to make big decisions. Whereas, it was easy for me to decide for smaller decisions.  I have always found find myself in dilemma in making huge decisions like career choice or other such decisions that were associated to my future or anybody’s future. Till date I find myself doubtful in the chances that I take.

 I feel that it’s the lack of confidence is one of the factors that weakens a person’s ability to handle it. To add more to it, the lack of ideas and information about the surrounding and having no contact with the day-to-day life’s weakens a persons contact with the world and lessons and limits the ideas, way of thinking and knowledge. I have also observed that for a person who cannot take decisions, in later life, the person becomes weak in terms of thinking and is morally weaken. Furthermore, with the lack confidence the individual is regarded as a non-talented person by others.

The quote “I love the challenge of doing things people say can’t be done. The minute somebody says, “that can’t be done” I respond by thinking it would be interesting, exciting and fulfilling to prove it can be done” – Rude Gioliani. This quote encourages me. To see any kind of challenge as a mission that is interesting to do and as something that is to be proved really changes our mind to carry it out rather than backing-off from it and avoiding it. It makes us say, “Let’s take the challenge. It will be easy to tackle.” A slight change in thought also makes a lot of difference. Just by saying “I can’t do it.” stops one from doing any action that could be possible if we had tried. On the other hand, the phrases as mentioned above and a lot of others inspire and motivates us to take-up any task and just complete it what so ever the outcome is.

I still find myself less confident at times in decision making but compared to my previous days I have gained and have seen some improvements in me. I am glad that now I can take decisions on my own. I know, that there are a few more big decisions yet to come, and I hope that as times goes by I will be bold enough to make my own decisions in the right way and without any hesitation.

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.