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Monthly Archives: August 2013

First published: http://www.thedailystar.net/beta2/news/back-to-school/
Date: Sunday, August 25, 2013

I love stationeries. Pens, pencils, pencil box, geometry sets, page markers, paperclips, files, new books — all these thrill me. I always need new, sharp, colourful and varieties of stationeries to keep me glued to my desk (now my work station). Good and attractive stationeries motivate me, to at least attempt to get going. Even now, in my handbag, besides finding a lipstick or an eye pencil, you will certainly find a stationary kit with two to three kinds and colours of pens, pencils, markers, erasers, sharpeners and much more (if you’re lucky, might even find a small stapler). I’ve always possessed bright and of course less durable fancy geometry boxes. My geometry boxes usually were loved by the entire class. That couldn’t help me get great grades in geometry but that’s a different topic altogether.
Another thing I love is “back to school day”. No matter how bad the results were, or how traumatising the previous class teacher was, I always loved going back to school, to a new class with new books and a set of new stationeries. I always needed everything new. My mother told me, it is a tradition to use the old ink pen for years and how people have used it for generations. I, however, never felt that way. I wanted EVERYTHING new. I still vividly remember the first time I bought a fountain pen and an ink bottle. My mother bought me a silver capped, green Parker pen and Pelikan royal blue ink. The refilling sessions were overwhelming in the first few days.
I never realised I missed those days until very recently, when I was wrapping my son’s textbooks. It took me back to the good old days; a walk down memory lane. “The Radiant Way” character Tom, who sings, or Little Miss Muffet suddenly seemed like long-lost relatives. While organising his pencil box, colour pencils, notebooks etc, I suddenly got this urge for that first Parker pen, that green and yellow geometry box my uncle got me from Germany, and that pretty pencil set my father bought me after I recovered from paratyphoid in class three. My rhyme books, “Amar Boi” or even the Wren and Martin grammar book — I wanted them all. All those memories were rushing back to me. I am glad — thanks to my son — I got to reconnect with them.
Starting this year, I have decided to celebrate the “back to school day” with my son. I have decided to bake a cake (my idea of celebration, on any occasion) and prepare him for the challenges ahead. “Back to school day” is again back in my life — in a different form. More challenging days this time. I bet the rewards will be sweeter and failures will be harder to accept. It is back, nevertheless. With that I wish all the best to all the mothers who are going back to school once again.

First Published: http://blogs.dw.de/womentalkonline/2013/08/16/victims-of-love/
Date: 16.08.2013 | 14:36

Rumana Manzur, a graduate of Dhaka University, was doing her post-graduation as a Fulbright scholar in the University of British Columbia. In June 2011, she returned to Bangladesh to visit her five-year-old daughter Anushey and husband, Syed. But Syed was not very happy with his wife’s choices.They were having arguments about this. On June 2011 one day he suddenly attacked her from behind as she was working at her computer. He pulled her her hair, bit her face and chewed her nose. He also scratched her eyes with his fingers and made her blind forever. Manzur was working on her thesis around that time. She was rushed to the hospital as she was bleeding severely. Later, she was taken to Chennai in India for further treatment.

Syed was always jealous of his wife’s career. He himself was jobless and less successful in his life compared to Manzur. He was arrested 10 days after the incident took place. Later he was found dead in his prison cell.

However, Rumana persued her studies once she was better. Her weak eyes couldn’t stop her from achieving what she wanted. After the incident she left the country with her daughter Anushey and her parents and settled in Canada. Life was not easy, she had to fight the new climate, new culture, deal with being a single mother, all this after having lost her eyesight. Manzur learnt how to read and write in the Braille system. Finally in June 2013, she received her second Master’s degree. Rumana Manzur is an epitome of courage, strength and zeal.

Manzur is not the only one who faced the “consequences” of trying to study and come up in life. A similar incident happened in the same year. On December 4, 2011 Hawa Akhter Jui lost her fingers as she was persung her studies without the permission of her husband, Rafikul Islam, a laborer working in the Middle East. Hawa was going ahead with her education despite vehement opposition from her husband. She had always wanted to finish her education.

After losing her finger, she took a while to adjust to it. In February 2012 she completed higher secondary school certificate examination. Special arrangements were made by the education ministry to help her and a person was hired to write on behalf of Hawa as she spoke out the answers lying on a sick bed in the examination hall. Artificial fingers now help her in carrying out basic activities like writing.

Strong women like Hawa and Rumana are today’s role models. One lost her eyes at the hands of her husband and another lost her fingers, but nothing could stop these women from achieving their goals. Life has been brutal, society was critical and above all there was severe mental stress and trauma.

Author: Aziza Ahmed

Editor: Manasi Gopalakrishnan

First Published: http://www.thedailystar.net/beta2/news/a-gift-from-heaven-at-my-make-believe-lawn/
Date: Sunday, July 28, 2013

There are times when something small and otherwise unnoticeable makes your day. This was one of those mornings for me. After waking up, I opened the door to the balcony and was overwhelmed by this heavenly perfume. My heart skipped a beat — beautiful, pearly white gondhoraj in full bloom. Oh My God! After much perseverance, effort, and praying from my end, they finally decided to show up. I felt like looking at the flowers all day.
A significant part of my time has been invested in the garden I have tried to create at my balcony. I grow a few kitchen herbs, decorative plants and white flowers that can grow in limited space, with minimum direct sunlight and air. I also have a pot of grass; I call it my make-believe lawn.
In a city like Dhaka where life is anything but “fresh”, this is a little piece of heaven I possess. In the beginning when I started gardening, I could never keep the greens look, well, quite as green as I wanted. Slowly, with time I started to understand them — when should I water more, if I should move the tubs and so on. It comes naturally to you, not much effort is required. However the two men at home are totally oblivious to my green thumb. I dragged both to the balcony to admire the beautiful vision. Both said “Oh…flowers.” “Oh…flowers”? And that’s all the enthusiasm I heard for the remarkable sight and smell.
I asked myself, did I start gardening for them, or for anyone else? Do I want applause for my accomplishments, or is it for myself only? I came to the conclusion that I did this entirely for myself. Because it makes me happy; makes my balcony smell heavenly; gives me a reason to smile, a reason to wake up early in the morning, go to my make-believe lawn and feel like I’m walking barefoot on a green carpet of grass.
Very recently I started doing yoga at the balcony. But then I figured I have turned into a local entertainer, and decided to take my act indoor. Early in the morning, five to ten minutes of absolute silence at the green balcony gives me a certain kind of bliss that replenishes my energy.
These are feelings you need to feel, need to have inside. Maybe everyone at home will not understand the importance of that particular white flower, but as long as it makes you happy, stimulates your mind, and gives you a positive feeling — by all means, cherish it.
Bohemian Soul is a working mother of a 6-year-old. She would much rather bake and write poetry all day but knows how to keep it real.

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