In times when I begin to lose all hope and despair engulfs me, I desperately search around for any glimpse of optimism for my own sanity. Living in Bangladesh is an everyday adventure in itself, and when on a regular basis there is news of extortion, corruption, unsolved murders, mysterious disappearances and many more such atrocities, one is bound to feel lost and helpless wondering whether he or she will survive the very next moment.

But just the other day, I found my ray of hope. It was right there, I just never happened to look properly. As a part of field trip organized from my current work station at BRAC centre, I visit the nearby Korail slum (which is one of the most populated slums in Dhaka, Bangladesh) with a small delegation of foreign consultants. What more was I to expect other than some usual slum scenarios that we see in pictures and videos; dirty, swampy, raggedly dressed men and women and bare bodied soiled children with runny noses. I admit I was ignorant because reality was a little different.

As I walked down the cemented roads, I could see that the slum in itself was a self supported organism. It has everything in it to support the minimum requirements of any marginalized person. If I had time to venture, then I probably would have discovered  a lot more but within that short period of time, I was exposed to some important elements of living that was being taken care of effectively by BRAC’s programs  to ensure a certain level of quality living.

Slums are not recognized by the state and hence its people are automatically deprived of the basic needs and rights. Out of the various initiatives of BRAC’s health programs, Manoshi project deals with maternal health and care. I felt proud when I learned that because of such country wide initiatives; Bangladesh has not only achieved but gone way below the marginal line of MDG for reducing the maternal deaths by half.

“Banglar maati Banglar Jol”{The soil of Bengal,the waters of Bengal}

Looking at the smiling and potential faces of children at the BRAC’s pre-primary school program in the slum, somehow I knew that the future of Bangladesh is not completely bleak. These were children who will one day rise with their heads held high to support the country on their capable shoulders. Their current backgrounds or living conditions have nothing to do with their future potentials in life.

Bangladesh is a country with immense potential, in terms of its resources and people. We just need to realize the most effective way to utilize all the elements and bring out the best solutions. I may have been disheartened for a little while, but I woke up once again feeling fresh and hopeful about the country that fought for its language and freedom, and surely will rise with confidence beating all odds.

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I am angry,furious…I am tired, exhausted and almost on the verge of doing something extreme. I look for a space to breath under the open sky. I search for an alternative way to live with decency, safety and respect. I can’t bear to read another news report on a violent death of an infant who’s only fault was being born as girl. I am unable to hold back the tears of anger when an article screams the story of a mother, somewhere in the world, being tortured only because she gave birth to a girl child. Fumes of anger rise from my body as another sister of mine, somewhere in the country, loses her God given beauty to the causticity of acid; only because she ignored being a goons girlfriend.

I walk on the roads of Dhaka, constantly being conscious of men looking, rather gaping, at me as if it is their birthright to enjoy a women’s body whoever she maybe and whatever she might be wearing. Some men feel it is a duty bestowed on them to use their hands and obtain an instant pleasure from touching any part of my body while on the run. It is an added pleasure for them when I give an angry, disapproving stare and they can smile and wink back at me. Their vocals never hold back from commenting or singing out some dirty lines and who can ever stopped them from following me around and enjoying my discomfort.

All I can do is shut my ears and look. All I have done is kept my mouth shut. But for how long….because I cant bear it longer. I am not weak like many rural girls who just find it easier to commit suicide and bring an end to daily ordeals of mental torture. I sometimes wonder if I should carry around an iron rod and start beating up any man who ever says or does anything to me. Is that a probable solution?!!hmm…I still wonder.

I wonder because when I react, I get explanations from people around me that, that’s how men are!! We women are meant to shutup and bear along. And I stand there wanting to scream at them that if only they trained their “glorious sons”  at home on how to treat women, then maybe they would have been more civilized. Should I have screamed?!!

Men, and surprisingly some women, are of opinion that if women chose to dress more appropriately then such situations wouldn’t arise much. I wear selwar kamiz, lose ones for that matter. I put on a fatua, making sure I have a well covering dupatta to go with. Nothing stops these men. Even my friends who wear Burkha and hijab haven’t been spared. So what’s the point! And even if we chose to dress however we want, what still gives them the right to abuse us. If men are allowed to dress according to their comfort levels then so are we. What gives them the authority to decide on our comfort zones?!!

I want to scream at fathers and some ignorant mothers and tell them that the gender of the baby is actually decided by the male’s sperm, the one that is the fastest and the strongest. I want to grab their shoulders, shake them and tell them that it is not and it is never the fault of the mother to give birth to a girl child. I want to hold their hands and beg and explain to them that having a girl is equally worthwhile and fulfilling.  I actually want to splash acid over the culprits who have destroyed the lives of thousands of girls in a matter of seconds, and make them feel the pain and agony. Because a few years in jail and bail money is not enough punishment.

I am tired….. I am tired of waking up every morning and preparing myself  mentally to face another day at the street just so that I can absorb all sorts of abuse. I am tired of feeling dirty and disgusted because some random guy touched me. I am tired of not being able to do anything about it, of not being able to react and take action. I suffer from insecurity everyday at every moment. I want my freedom to live and I want it now.

“Aamar Mukti aaloy aaloy”{My freedom at every speck of light}

I was watching the news, watching the documentaries, watching films; all that talked about the current world. It only managed to horrify, depress and stutter me. Why was all of these happening? Why wasn’t it all being stopped? How long was it all going to continue? And most importantly, what was my role to be played in all of this?

Robithakur saw the wars taking place and all the sufferings it led to. He revolted against it and was instantly ready to give up  his well deserved award to show his protest. That wasnt all. He continued fighting through his poems and his songs that did the overwhelming task of inspiring immensely those who were ready to sacrifice their lives for justice.

Little did he know how much more shocks and misseries were to be wieghted by this world that was created by the ALL MIGHTY. But somewhere along the line, his songs reflect much of what we face today. We can feel the pain in his songs and about the regret he has towards his lord for not being able to protect His lovingly created world.

\"Shokatorey oi kaadichey\"{Oh lord!pls hear evryones plea}

I know, the header is for limited understanding. But I can’t find a better way to express my excitement in this weather. As I sat in my varenda an hour ago, the dark sky got my hopes up for a lovely rainy day. Then the winds started blowing strong and fierce.

Everything around is being blown away and the children are screaming out of excitement and youngsters are running out to the roof to get wet in the heavy shower which has just begun.

\”neel nobo khone asharo gogone\”{the arriving fearless storm}

If only I didn’t have to worry about my final’s in the following week, nothing could have stopped me from running to the rain. So I’m enjoying the rain staying indoors listening to Rabindrasangeet and a plate of raw mango mixed with chilli and salt. yummm!!

SD Burman, the famous music director of India is also known for adapting the tunes of his songs. This song is an adaptation of a very well known song of Rabindranath Tagore, “jodi tare nai chini go sheki”

The lyrics of this song translates to express the thoughts of an uncertain mind wondering about his or her  soul mate. How would the person be? What would bring him into my life? If I don’t, would he recognize me? Would he be someone who’s already around me but I’m unable to recognize him?

Beautiful as it may seem. Even though SD Burman has adapted the tune but he hasn’t really met up to the feel of the song with the lyrics. There are many more examples of Hindi songs, some even recent, adapted from Rabindrasangeet. Although the original’s are ever so incomparable.

\”jodi tare nai chini go sheki\”{waiting for the unknown}

So after that depressing encounter with the remix video, I needed to set my mood right. This particular song always seems to neutralize any  sort of  mood I maybe in.

\”Koto baro bhebechinu apona bhulia\”{The further I move away,the closer I get to you}

It’s about someone whose shy. Someone whose secretly in love. Ready to sacrifice more than she has to offer. Unable to uderstand how she should express her feelings. Or whether she should at all on the first place!!!

I came across this music video which is a remix of one of the most beautiful songs by Rabithakur “Paagla haoar baadol dine”{on the days of wilder winds}. I ask the readers of this post, was such remix really necessary? Was it worthed? Did it make sense at all?

Frankly, I felt the entire essence of the song was lost. We have Shahana Bajpai singing Rabindrasangeet in a very modern and ‘not boring’ manner.But she never spoiled the actual feel of the original. I really hope such sort of distortion of legendary works are not continued further. It’s simply not fair.

I have given along the unremixed version of the song for a better comparison.

\”paagla haoar badol dine\”{on the days of wilder winds}

\”Tomar khola hawa\”{The winds of love}

The song reminds me of someone who was truly in love. Even though short lived, it was magical. I could see the twinkle of happiness in her eyes, feel the joy of a happy person she had become. She was in every way above all.
The words of this song defines the very essence of being in love. How willing one becomes to do anything and everything for the person they love. Ready to face the world and tackle all hardships. Where does all the strength come from? Even death seems to be as simple as candy.

Windy, cool and rainy evenings always get me thinking. Random thoughts about my life. Silent soliloquies are normal for such a day. Todays thoughts were ones which probably every ‘single’  ponders in solitude.

‘Being single’ was a personal choice but that doesnt stop me from wondering who and how ‘the person’ would be!! How do I want him to be? What would I be to him? Would it be a fairy tale love story?!!….wait…..I am dreaming too much…

\”Tumi shondharo meghomala\”{You are the person of my dreams}

It’s the song. This always happens to me and I start asking sensible, insensible questions. Robithakur uses such beautiful phrases to describe ones soul mate, that for once it makes you wish your beloved would sing this song for you.

The song makes you feel as if  you’re the most important person in the world for your better half. Someone, he or she cant live without. A precious possession, who becomes the power of your prayers.

\”Oi je jhorer o meghe\”{The storms are here}

Pahela Boishakh is gone, but the air of jubilence still lingers. Despite the smothering heat and scortching sun, not many people stayed back indoors. I can still see people walking around in red and white dresses.

The Dhaka residents have been craving for a few drops of rain for a while now. Every evening, the gloomy sky and a rush of cool air lifts up our hope of rain, but alas!! Although it is the time for storms. And already other parts of the country are getting hit by rough storms.

When storms hit Dhaka, I enjoy it the most. Just like the song explains, I too can feel the wilderness of the storm. Standing in the veranda, open hair blowing wildly with the wind, splatter of rain on the face. How can anyone miss so much of life!!

September 2017
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