Possession versus Appropriation

“It belong to dead cult, not for human being” (19).

     In the play Death and the King’s Horseman, Wole Soyinka explores the relationship of the dead ancestors with their living generations and future offsprings. This play is based on the life-style and culture of Yoruba city of Nigeria in 1964. At that time, Yoruba was under British Colonial, which serve as a vital role to drag the literary theme of the western African society—Indigenous versus foreign. There is a clash in interpreting Yoruba’s customs and traditions between the natives and the British. Hence, the concept of appropriation of other’s culture grasped by the British stands out to fight with the concept of cultural possession held by the Yourba’s people.

     What do you think, what could be the reason for Amusa to refuse talking about Elesin’s death with Pilkings when they were dressed in egungun costume? One of the reasons mentioned in the play is that the masquerade dress represented egungun men as “the reincarnated spirits of ancestors” (20).  Moreover, the dialogue mentioned above not only illustrates about Amusa’s fear of his ancestors’ power to subdue Yoruba people for violating the importance of dress, but also depicts the reality about appropriation.  In the play, Simon and Jane have used the sacred dress of Yoruba’s culture as an object for their entertainment. As Simon stated, “Well, I’ve got it on. And what’s more Jane and I have bet on it we’re taking first prize at the ball” (19). Hence, it is understandable that someone else’s culture or traditional equipments become a normal item to foreigners if they lack to understand its real meaning and significance. To take into an account, here Soyinka is not trying to show the cultural clash, but he wants us to realize the idea of taking away a sanctified thing and using for personal reasons especially when it is the things connected to someone’s culture.

     In the play, on one side, Amusa’s reactions demonstrate his anxieties regarding the misuse of his cultural dress connected to divinity, and, on the other side, the indifferent reaction shown by the foreign British. When Amusa saw Jane and Simon dancing in egungun dress, he “stiffens suddenly, his expression changes to one of disbelief and horror” (18).  It illustrates his concerns about the misusage of the costume. He was completely horrified because he knew the power possessed by that dress for conveying their ancestors’ warnings and messages. However, Simon and Jane are seemed to be relaxed because they take it as a normal dress which can be worn by anyone. Moreover, Simon confiscated the dress from the egungun men, and now, he claims to be his and uses it for personal reasons. This is a big gap between the indigenous and the foreigners in understanding the importance of one another’s culture and life-styles. Also, it describes the comprehension of others’ cultural values in two opposite ways, where, for Amusa, the cultural value is connected with upholding the ethical standards of his ancestors which is crucial to sustain his present and future living. Whereas, for Simon, the dress becomes a subject for amusement. Moreover, Simon isn’t concerned or unaware about the natives’ emotions connected with the costume.

      Therefore, taking possession to someone else’s property especially when it has religious and cultural value is similar as exploiting its importance. A person may take care of others society and people, what Simon does in the play, but if he violates their cultural identities, then he can never be able to adjust in that society to live a genial life.

Belief and Determination uder Pressure

What would Digna do on witnessing the poor child suffering agony? Did her belief or her determination change?
A woman walked from place to place hoping to find magic that can cure the disease of a girl that has no blood connection with her. She ran from science to superstition. She asked help from don to doctors. Her belief seemed to be flexible; she seemed not to possess a specific or particular faith. However, whoever was in her situation could have acted like her. What should she do on witnessing her so-called daughter’s “body trembled and deep long moan[s], like a love call, ran through her” (70), and her body “shake[d] convulsively; …arched backward with superhuman force” (Ibid)?
The mother, Digna, was very religious; in fact, she “had the habit of talking with God” (11), she “lost herself in long prayer and confessions” (12). She devoted her time and health for God although she had to take care of her children and family without the help of her husband who usually went out for work. However, what did religions do to pay back her belief? What did God do to show His power? She didn’t see any symbols of God; what she saw was that “the Church was the friend of the rich and the foe of the poor” (63), what she noticed was that one religion considered the other as a rival. Hence, she was like a sheep without the shepherd. Inside her heart, she wondered whether her belief was an illusion or reality. And her faith seemed to be shaky.
As a result, she went to science with the hope to rescue the poor child from the torture of her malady. She hoped science could have a remedy to cure the child’s “English disease” (56).Yet in this country, somehow science was also not reliable. She asked help from a doctor, but what kind of treatment she received: “ignore [the child] and hope that when she grew out of adolescence she would also grow out of the attacks” (57). Hope. Yes, only hope. She went to him with a hope, and then she was asked to wait with a hope. If this hope wouldn’t be fulfilled, the child absolutely would continue suffering anguish until her demise.
What’s more, before obstacles, Digna was like a person downing in a deep river. She didn’t know what to believe in and what to do. Hence, she held on everything that she could think of. Somehow, she was like Callimo in “The Fortune Teller,” upon facing fear and confusion, his belief altered. He ran to the fortune teller. Similarly, Digna ran from the west to the east, from mountains to deltas with hopes to cure the poor child’s disease although these hopes were as small as a grain of sand in an ocean. For her, caring for Evangelina was no longer a responsibility, a mother’s duty. She could have given up, but she didn’t. She could have returned her to her real parents, but she didn’t. She loved the girl with all her heart and soul. She herself knew that she could never receive anything for her efforts, yet for her, health and smiles of her poor child was the most valuable award. And she contributed her entire life to achieve that award.

Belief and determination under pressure

What would Digna do on witnessing the poor child suffering agony? Did her belief or her determination change? A woman walked from place to place hoping to find magic that can cure the disease of a girl that has no blood connection with her. She ran from science to superstition. She asked help from don to doctors. Her belief seemed to be flexible; she seemed not to possess a specific or particular faith. However, whoever was in her situation could have acted like her. What should she do on witnessing her so-called daughter’s “body trembled and deep long moan[s], like a love call, ran through her” (70), and her body “shake[d] convulsively; …arched backward with superhuman force” (Ibid)?

 The mother, Digna, was very religious; in fact, she “had the habit of talking with God” (11), she “lost herself in long prayer and confessions” (12). She devoted her time and health for God although she had to take care of her children and family without the help of her husband who usually went out for work. However, what did religions do to pay back her belief? What did God do to show His power? She didn’t see any symbols of God; what she saw was that “the Church was the friend of the rich and the foe of the poor” (63), what she noticed was that one religion considered the other as a rival. Hence, she was like a sheep without the shepherd. Inside her heart, she wondered whether her belief was an illusion or reality. And her faith seemed to be shaky.

 As a result, she went to science with the hope to rescue the poor child from the torture of her malady. She hoped science could have a remedy to cure the child’s “English disease” (56).Yet in this country, somehow science was also not reliable. She asked help from a doctor, but what kind of treatment she received: “ignore [the child] and hope that when she grew out of adolescence she would also grow out of the attacks” (57). Hope. Yes, only hope. She went to him with a hope, and then she was asked to wait with a hope. If this hope wouldn’t be fulfilled, the child absolutely would continue suffering anguish until her demise.

What’s more, before obstacles, Digna was like a person downing in a deep river. She didn’t know what to believe in and what to do. Hence, she held on everything that she could think of. Somehow, she was like Callimo in “The Fortune Teller,” upon facing fear and confusion, his belief altered. He ran to the fortune teller. Similarly, Digna ran from the west to the east, from mountains to deltas with hopes to cure the poor child’s disease although these hopes were as small as a grain of sand in an ocean. For her, caring for Evangelina was no longer a responsibility, a mother’s duty. She could have given up, but she didn’t. She could have returned her to her real parents, but she didn’t. She loved the girl with all her heart and soul. She herself knew that she could never receive anything for her efforts, yet for her, health and smiles of her poor child was the most valuable award. And she contributed her entire life to achieve that award.

Response to ” Gender and Religion”

Although we hear that there were matriarchal societies in the prehistoric time, now there is no existence of matriarchal societies, and most of the time women are totally dominated by men. When I read “Religion and Gender” written by Moojan Momen, I realized that as in every religion men are showed as superior to women, they do not hesitate to undermine or neglect the women. They might know but neglect the fact that all men and women are equal and science has already proved it. Men always want to dominate the women, and argue that if the women do not agree with what religion says, these women are directly going to ignore the God. It is true that sometimes what religion says about the prestige and honor of men and women, we cannot agree with these. The real thing is that the religions do not always discriminate between men and women. These are the society people who want to dominate women, and that’s why they sometimes even skip or recreate the lines of the Holy Scripture for their own advantage. For example, in the religion Islam, it is said that every woman should respect their husband, and they can go to the heaven by doing this, but Islam does not ever say that if her husband do wrong deeds with them (for example, if he beats her or demand dowry), the wife should tolerate it and not say a single word against him. No, Islam does not ever say anything like this. The husbands have created a line “A woman’s heaven lies in the feet of her husband,” which is never told Islam. The meaning of the line is if you do not make your husband pleased or happy, you will not go to the heaven which means that a woman always has to do whatever her husband wants from them, whether she want to do it or not. They formed this line like the line which our prophet Mohammad said “A child’s heaven lies on the feet of her or his mother.” Therefore, in this patriarchal society, men only use the religion for their own advantage and skip the lines to take away the rights of getting honor of the women.

Wrath

In the chapter “Wrath” of the autobiography of Vasant Moon, we get to know that Ambedkar and his followers somehow tried to oppose the Quit India movement against British headed by Mahatma Ghandi by telling Hindus to enter the British army, demanding an independent country, and many others (102).

I believe that Ambedkar and his followers were right to demand for their rights. They had right to fight for their position in society, but as soon as I read about their opposition to the Quit India movement, I felt that it was wrong time to fight for their position. I think it was the time when they need to be together so that they first could get freedom from British government. It was fortunate that they got freedom from the British government at that time. I think it was quite possible that British government could trick on their politics, and let them fight with each other rather than setting them free from their control. I am not a politician to interfere in the decision of great politicians, but I think they should have been together when Congress party was fighting for the freedom of India.

Some may think that if Ambedkar and his followers had accompanied Congress that time, they would not have gained their own country as Pakistan. It is true that they gained separate country in which they made their own policy. However, we can’t forget the terrible war between two countries which lasted for several years, some may believe that the war was certain even they had not demand for the separate country at that time, but I believe if they had worked together for certain period of time, they would have solved their problem through negotiation rather than breaking up into the war.

Some Misinterpreted Religious Stories

Patriarchal society is one of the predominant attributes of Bangladesh. In order to subjugate women, this society misinterprets religious doctrine and concepts. There are many religious stories that are misinterpreted by the society to restrain women from their noble work. I am going to share two stories that are misinterpreted by the society.

My grandmother told me that it is written in hadith that once a woman came to Prophet Muhammad’s (s.a.a.w.) house. She complained to him that her husband had slapped her and asked Prophet Muhammad (s.a.a.w.) what she should do in response. Prophet Muhammad (s.a.a.w.) advised her to retaliate to him. No sooner had he advised it, message came from Allah telling that girls can’t hit boys even if boys hit them. It means that Islam have prohibited girls from reciprocating boys in the same way boys do. I was skeptic about the credibility of the story. I asked my grandmother in which hadith she found it. She said she heard it from her mother. She couldn’t tell me the name of that hadith. This is may be a misinterpret message of Islam because it seems to me that some information has been omitted from the message. How far I have known Islam has given equal respect to both male and female. Hence, I think this story is changed to show that women should be dominated by men. 

Recently I have heard a story from one of my friends when I told her that I don’t believe Allah has created women to test men if they can escape women’s allurement. She told me that during the lifetime of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.a.w.), a man was passing the street when he looked at a certain woman and the woman at him. Then, the devil whispered to both of them that they looked at each other only because they liked one another. The man kept walking at the side of a wall, while he was looking at her. As a result, another wall hit him and his nose was split. He furiously said, “I swear, I won’t wash the blood till I tell Prophet Muhammad (s.a.a.w.) what happened to me!” He went to him and told him his story. The prophet said in reply, “This was the punishment for your guilt.” It means that if any harm is done to men then it would be done by women. That’s why women should not be given any importance, or else they might seduce men. Thus, according to this patriarchal society, women should be confined to home. However, my friend couldn’t tell where this story is written since she heard it from her grandmother. Hence, I think this is also a deliberately misinterpreted story established to suppress women.

Therefore, I believe there isn’t actually any base of such kind of misinterpreted messages in Islam. Our ancestors had established these messages to dominate women. That’s why; such stories pass from generation to generation without containing any evidence.

 

 

Symbolism of Hairstyles

When I read the article “Symbolism of Hairstyles in Korea and Japan” by Na-Young Choi, I have come to know about the ancient hairstyles of Korea and Japan which were originated from China. Na-Young Choi wrote in the article about the hairstyles which symbolize one’s marital status, wealth, religious view and social status. Though many years passed away, the perception of people about the hairstyles is still not changed. People still consider hairstyles as the symbol of marital status, wealth, social status, and religious view, but sometimes the way of judgment is little bit different.
We see in the article that long hair symbolizes the wealthy status of the women as they do not have work, and that’s why they can easily keep their hair long. Nowadays, we see different picture in term of hairstyle. In Bangladesh, there are many beauty parlors which provide different kinds of haircut like bangs, layer, razor and bob cut etc, and if anyone wants to have the haircut, they must need money. We see that most of the poor women in Bangladesh have long hair as they do not have money to go to the beauty parlor and have a nice haircut. That’s why, as the people of affluent family get modern hair cut every month, they have shorter hair than that of the poor women and girls who usually cannot provide money to go to a beauty parlor to get a good haircut. Moreover, hair rebonding or hair straightening and doing hair color are the symbols of wealth. It is because these need lots of money if anyone wants to make her curly hair straight or highlight her hair with various colors as the products are very expensive. Now it is very popular in Bangladesh very much.
Men were usually supposed to get short haircut, and women long hair before, but now it is changed. Before only rock stars used to have long hair, but now men are free to have long hair like women, and also can get short hair like men. Now no one will think the women weird who get short haircut. SO, the haircut also symbolizes the independence of a person

” Never Tell a Lie”

Since our childhood, we are being learnt from our parents and other elder people that we should not tell a lie at any circumstances, but most of us used to lie when our mothers asked, “Who broke this expensive flower vase?” or “Who had eaten all the sweets from the refrigerator?” If our parents and other elder members of our family had always tried to make us tell the truth all the time, from where we learnt how to tell a lie? Actually it is a bitter true that all the children learn how to tell a lie from the people who are around them. They can learn telling lies from the family where they are bringing up, from the classmates with whom they spend their school hours, and also even from the society. At first, in the family, for example, a child is playing near the phone place and a grown-up member of the family is sitting beside him lazily and watching TV. Suddenly a call comes, the child receives the call and someone has called the grown up. When the grown up understand that who has called him is the one who is very irritating, he tells the child to tell the caller, “The person you have called is not at home right now, and he did not tell exactly when he will return.” Surprisingly, before a while, this grown-up was teaching the child “Never tell a lie.” The child may not understand what is happening around him, but he can easily understand that it is the lies which can save one from uncomfortable and irritating situation. This is the way how a person learns how to tell a lie, and when to tell a lie in his childhood. It is a matter of sorrow that the child then starts to tell a lie when he feels that he will be in danger or in an uncomfortable situation if he tells the truth. He starts to tell lie to his teacher when he forgets to bring his homework to save himself. If it becomes the situation of our young generation, then how can we expect them as good citizens? It is the time to stop telling lie to make our young generation truthful.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Willy Loman’s Journal (ACT TWO)

9 February 1949.

I am happy today. My son, Biff, is heading to start his own business. I will definitely celebrate his initiative tonight. Now, I will have all the things
that I have always wanted.  Now that my son has agreed to comply, I am sure I won’t have all these junkyard anymore. Also, when I die this house won’t be owned by strangers; instead, my grandchildren will live and grow here. Now, I think, I should retire my travelling business. I can sit in one place, and I will sell merchandise through phone calls as Dave Singleman used to do in his eighties. Oh! He was the man; he was the hero. He used to make sales in thirty-one countries without travelling, so I have decided I will do the same. I will meet Howard tomorrow and talk to him
about this. Ha! He will be pleased to offer me this job that’s for sure.

10 February 1949.

Why life always treats me the same? I hoped-in fact-I was sure to get the job like Dave, but Howard, my so called boss, fired me. I will be penniless. My wife will suffer again; she will suffer from poverty and disgrace. I know a poor and dumb person will never get respect in the society. I will not have any richness to show them. Moreover, my son has failed his attempt to ask loan from Oliver. I am ashamed to say that my son is worthless.  I always thought that Biff would be more successful and richer than Bernard, but I see the opposite. I don’t know what he will do with his life without business. Oh Lord! Give me some advice. Show me some ways to heal this problem.

(After few minutes)

Yes, I will do it. I will kill myself. I see no other way better than this. My accident will be ransom to recover my family’s poverty. Linda and Biff will get 20,000$ from my death and car insurance company. With this money, Biff can start his own business and earn his living. Linda can also live with this money for some time, and as Biff starts his business, he will accommodate her with the expenses. Yes, I am going to this. Today, when I will pass the little bridge, I will speed up and smash with the railing. This time I will succeed in committing suicide, but this will never be called as a suicide. It will be called as an accident. Oh Lord! My wishes have failed many times. I dreamed to own business larger than Charley, but it has never been true. I dreamed about Biff becoming rich and settled, but he has lost all this confidence and charm. Therefore, Lord, I deeply want this wish to come true. As a living man, I cannot do any great things to my family, but my death will sure make some good to them. Amen.