“TACKY,” she thought. The base make-up is too whitish for her skin tone; it makes her look almost like a ghost. “Well, ghost is what I am now, for the mortal me died long, long ago,” Shujata said to herself. She still walks, eats, laughs, weeps and… sleeps with men, which is what she does for a living, but her soul leapt from her battered body 5 years ago.
She rummages through her red plastic bag for a lipstick. She has four colours altogether-red, bright red, dark pink and deep magenta. People say that girls like Shujata can attract more men when they wear such garish colours. There had been many days when she wished to wear a light shade of brown, but she never had a chance. She does not have a place to go, a place where she can go and be herself, where she can breathe in fresh air and watch cuckoos fly in the blue sky. The pungent alleys, the filthy men with even filthier insides, the worn-out walls and the impoverished, hopeless women like her is all that she sees every day, every single day.
She chooses to wear the red lipstick tonight; it has a blue transparent case. The poor quality of the tube says it is cheap; Shujata bought it for only Tk.10 from the make-up vendor, who comes to their place. “The old man is mean even at the age of 60,” she thought. She remembers the day when he wanted to spend the night with her in exchange for just two bottles of nail polish. “Once a nasty man, always a nasty man,” Shujata giggled.
She brings the green plastic mirror closer to her face and scrutinises the dark lips. They were not dark at one time; the repeated use of inexpensive lipsticks had ruined their once-soft skin. And not to forget the cigarettes, which she smokes daily. One pack lasts her only a day these days. “My whole body is a piece of shit now,” she thought. “But I died a long time ago, so I have little to worry about this body. Who doesn't know that a body is worthless when its soul leaves it?”
She searches her red plastic bag again, this time for kohl. She lines her eyes with a stick of Lakmé kajal every day; this is the only luxury in her miserable life. She tried using cheap kohl but it always irritated her eyes. She remembers the time when she had to go to the hospital, for her eyes were red like the hair ribbons her father bought for her in a different lifetime. The doctor was not a nice man; he scowled at her, asked her questions that had nothing to do with her allergic reaction to cheap kohl. “Men are nasty. The educated ones are no less nasty,” Shujata growled and spat on the floor.
She looks deep into her own eyes. Shujata's mother always said that she had the eyes of a deer. Shujata never saw a deer, but she knows for certain that her puffy eyes cannot and do not resemble those of a deer. She runs her slender fingers over the bags under her eyes. “I am too young to have these bags. The sleepless nights have killed my eyes, and so has the booze.” At 21, she has assumed the appearance of a woman in her mid-thirties; the adolescent look is long gone. She heaves a deep sigh and takes up the kohl to line the edge of her eyes.
Shujata then picks up the box of blush; it is an expensive one. No other girl in her place has one like hers; it's a brand called Revlon that one of her guests brought for her from London. As she brushes some on her right cheek, the scar catches her eyes. It's a long thin line that runs along the side of her face. Even the make-up cannot hide it. Maybe a concealer could, but who has the money to buy it. Moreover, I don't even care about this scar anymore. The scar is a reminder of her first time, when the 16-year-old Shujata tried to break free from the talons of a monster twice her age. “I could not break free; I wish I died that night. But the creator had different plans for me…,” Shujata chuckled.
Her panderer barked outside, a sign that she was taking too much time tonight. Shujata is almost done with her makeup. She stands up and it is then when she notices the bunch of roses that the 9-year-old daughter of a friend gave her that morning. Shujata thinks about the little girl, “She is such a beautiful child. I wish she left us and found a life outside the walls of this hell hole, or else she too will soon become one of us.”
Shujata carefully picks up a red rose and tucks it into her neatly folded bun. The panderer barks again, and she knows it is time to step outside and embrace another endless night.
By Wara Karim
Check it out
Bangladesh clothing show @ UK
The Bangladesh clothing industry is set to hold its first ever supplier exhibition in the UK at the Hilton London Metropole Hotel, Monarch Suite, on Monday 27 (10.00.am to 6.00pm) and Tuesday 28 (10.00am to 5.30pm), September 2010.
'The show will showcase nearly 80 of the country's most innovative and successful manufacturers of ladies wear, menswear, children swear and knitwear, as well as textile dyers, printers and finishers, buying houses/agents and logistics providers.
The exhibition will also allow fashion designers, buyers for retailers, brands, corporate clothing and mail order groups, wholesalers and relevant trade associations from the UK and Europe to see the extensive breadth and quality of products available from Bangladesh and discuss face-to-face their specific sourcing requirements.
A key component of the exhibition will be to demonstrate the Bangladesh suppliers' active commitment to ethical and standards' compliance encompassing the elimination of child labour, the empowerment of women and the implementation of ecological working practices and processes.
There will also be a programme of organised networking and seminar events running alongside the show including presentations on trading in Bangladesh. The exhibition will also help promote British and other European business opportunities as Bangladeshi clothing companies are themselves major purchasers of intellectual property services, heavy-duty machinery, chemicals and raw materials
The Bangladesh Clothing Show 2010 is being organised by GenX UK Limited in collaboration with ALLIANT in Bangladesh.
Commenting on the exhibition, Mahbubur Rahman, event director, GenX said: “UK is one of the top five target markets for Bangladeshi suppliers. London is one of the world's most important economic and fashion capitals and well connected to the rest of the world.
“Buyers from all over the globe source from here so we hope that European-based companies will see it as an 'easy' and low cost opportunity to visit some of our best suppliers without having to travel all the way to Bangladesh.”
He added: “We held hugely successful country events in Japan and Canada last year. We hope to replicate that success with the UK show and create the forum within which companies can meet, discuss issues, do business and build valuable long-term relationships.”
In addition to the Export Promotion Bureau of Bangladesh, EPB, which is a part of Ministry of Commerce, the show is being supported by the People's Republic of Bangladesh and the Bangladesh High Commission in the UK.
It is also being supported by the Association of Suppliers to the British Clothing Industry, ASBCI; the Bangladesh Garments Manufacturer & Exporter Association, BGMEA; the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturer & Exporter Association, BKMEA; Bangladesh Textile Mills Association, BTMA; Bangladesh Textile Mills Corporation, BTMC; and the leading Bangladesh TV - Channel-I.
Company Clothing magazine in the UK is also supporting the show as its official media partner.
GenX is a professional networking company specialising in bringing businesses together through major industry events. Alliant is a global public relations, event management and marketing company. They have previously organised the BGMEA's annual BATEXPO since 2003; the BKMEA's KNITEXPO for the last six Years; the BTMA's TEXBANGLA in 2004, 2005, 2008, 2009, 2010; and the Dhaka International Textile & Garment Machinery Exhibition (DTC). GenX and Alliant are also currently promoting a series of events “Euro Bangladesh Property Fair” 14-15 August 2010 in Paris, France and 21-22 August 2010 in Rome, Italy.
It is also organising BATEXPO this year, which is scheduled for November. GenX is affiliated to the London Chamber of Commerce and the Association of Event Management.
- LS Desk
FASHION house Khaaki has recently introduced their new line of exceptionally designed attires for teen-age girls.
Fatua, tea-shirt, short skirt, short kamiz, jeans, and cotton pants will be available at Khaaki.
Since its inception the house strives to make a difference in designing. Through its efforts Khaaki has attracted a broad clientele. The combination of superior quality foreign fabric, western patterns and indigenous design provides Khaaki this edge as trend setters. Contact: Khaaki, Twin Tower, Shanti Nagar, Dhaka; Al Hamra, Zindbazar, Sylhet and Biponi Bitan, Chittagong.