Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home   |  Volume 6, Issue 13, Tuesday, March 29, 2011


S is for Spirit

It's been quite the pre-Kaalboishakhi of a month. Watching short-sighted people publicly drag prize-bearing heroes through mud for something they wish was theirs. Salivating over a piece of pie they thought should have been served on their plate; and then resenting that it was served a la mode to someone else instead. How does one explain to these people that it isn't just appetite that makes you earn your piece of the pie? It's whether you humbly ate your greens, bit off only as much as you are capable of chewing and had the stomach to work diligently to earn your just desserts. But, despite all the reprimands, note passing and attempts to make these people behave like responsible representatives, we are continuing to watch a national temper tantrum unfold in the most embarrassing manner.

These temper tantrums seem to be infectious. I have no other explanation for the other undignified displays of emotion that have occurred this month.

First we make demigods of a team. We smear ourselves with all their holy colours, and prance around the altars we have set up in our heads. But lo and behold, the altars start to quiver, as altars of feeble matches are wont to do, and our demigods falter. We are so enraged by the fact that they can only play up to their limited human experience and nothing more that we throw stones at their chariots. Except in our 'passion', we apparently aimed at the wrong chariot and even more unpleasant smelling disgrace hits the fan. Apologies are proffered, rose petals are strewn, we are awashed with tears of regret. You would think that lessons have been learnt. We will henceforth know better and clean up our acts.

But no. Next time the visiting team (that had beaten our demigods because they knew how to keep their eyes on the ball instead of getting cross-eyed over the promise of a 'delicious lunch') comes to play on our home-ground, we get all geared up and pray for an avenging defeat. We turn Green with envy; White with pent up rage. Green and White on our faces. Green and White on our stomachs. Green and White across amnesiac minds. Some party-poopers try to make profound statements about how those colours change tone exactly three days after the game but they are waved off nonchalantly. Don't take up my eight seconds of fame on the sports channel. Don't be such a bore. It's just not cricket, my dear fellow! Where is your team spirit?

Team spirit, indeed.

A team is a group of people who are all focused on achieving a common objective. Each member is given a role within the team and must work to the best of their ability so that, together, they can achieve the greater common objective. However, while this makes for an efficient team, it does not necessarily instill effective team spirit in each member. If everyone is only interested in their own role and nothing more, there will always be cracks that can ultimately lead to the disintegration of the team, when under pressure. Of course everyone has their personal objective, but this must be tempered with a spirit of understanding that the greater common objective of the team is also their responsibility to some degree. The pooling of individual talents and sharing of skills and resources strengthen a team, allowing it to achieve greater and better results.

The Buddha once said, "It's not our preferences that cause problems, it's our attachment to them." When we feel attachment to the things we view as ours alone, we can easily lose sight of the common objective.

Team spirit will only be as strong as it is allowed to be. Leaders need to understand the value of individual members and recognise that when one of them gets a prize, it does not make him a threat. It makes him an asset. A member who feels valued is much more likely to have the right team spirit, and they will be much more easily persuaded of its importance. An athlete who wins a “Man of the Match” award is thus a credit to the team. He brings accolades for the team, motivates others to do as well as him and should be encouraged to continue striving. It makes no sense for the captain to feel insecure and put him out to bench. That move simply does not serve the best interest of the team as a whole. It does not inculcate the right team spirit. Sometimes this can lead to the team changing jerseys unabashedly as game after game is played out. The team dissipates into a confusing combination of colours, ultimately creating a muddy shade of identity.

(Some notes on 'team spirit' taken from EzineArticles.com)

By Munize Manzur


'Women in nature'

Kamrun Nahar and Mafruha Begum, two fine arts graduates, who combined together some time back at the Zainul Gallery have banded together once more recently to put up an exhibition at Drik Gallery. This they have done with the participation of S Jayaraja (from India) and Afroza Anjum.

Afruha Begum, whose paintings in a romantic combination of sea-blue, gray and brown harks back to the lamenting poems of Jiban Ananda Das had various elements of feathers and flowers around the beauteous subject. She has used seven poems to base her paintings. "Bish Bochor Porey", included a woman, a bird's broken nest, a ladybird, a sheaf of rice. During the "hemonto" (winter) season when crops are harvested in Bangladesh, some young men and women, having harvested the rice, were shown dancing to celebrate the occasion. This painting too had touches of blue, brown and white in the swirling composition; it presented the dancing figures, as if caught in the wind. The stare of the owl reminded one of the Raven in Edgar Allen Poe's poems. It was full of mystery and fear as well as threat and daring.

The third piece was based on a poem titled "Andhokar" (darkness). It was made interesting for its use of gray-green, brown and black collage. Sand had also been used to give the texture depth of composition. Mafruha had added a paper boat to suggest the passage of time. The face was that of the poet himself, done with lines and splashes of black while the female figure stood for nature.

Kamrun Nahar, well-known for her mastery over Oriental Art -- with its beauteous women with gazelle eyes, exquisite lips, cascading hair and statuesque female figures -- had placed some of her exquisite and immaculate creations too in the Drik exhibition on woman and nature. Kamrun had used muted shades of beige and other basic colours and uncomplicated brush strokes. The trees with their large, fleshy, rounded leaves were conventional, yet picturesque. The leaves on the bush and the tree complemented the lotus shaped eyes of the gorgeous woman, who needed no formal finery to complete her attraction. The women done in blue, had flowers in her hair, in the typical eastern fashion. A string of pearls and bangles completed the female penchant for jewellery. The white sari, with its blue border added a touch of innocence and purity.

Afroza Anjum had the adaptation of her own imagination of the Renaissance, "Birth of Venus". Afroza Anjum had used a lotus leaf, earthenware vessel and trailing black hair -- along with the green drapery of the sari to give the subject the typical origin. In memory of a colleague of theirs, who had passed away, the group had also included paintings which presented destroyed modern constructions. Although they spoke of devastation, the vermilion and jet black colours, along with the egg-shell and green eric sky were surely moving and evocative of civilizations of the present century, with the mad rush for modernisation and multi-storeyed buildings. As for S Jayaraj, (whose paintings had not come in time for the opening of the display) he too had women in his focus. These he had depicted with sharp lines and bold, contrasting, earthy colours and the female faces took geometrical shapes, with lowered faces, to highlight their downtrodden position in our subcontinent's society.

By Fayza Haq


Long way to go

By Iffat Nawaz

'What will happen to my inside" she asked, loudly, "will the clay turn into stone and the stones into mountains, sad and solemn?"

The wind didn't answer. The coast was breezy but warm, the day-old layers felt like a part of her skin, the water she drank dried her inside. On a launch navigating south without a compass or any inkling of the wind's desire, she buried her face on a pillow to not figure out what's next.

With the oil and sleep of a thousand heads, some dead and some alive, she slept listening to storm far away. The morning in Monpura Ghat gave her colours to draw her not so clean slate full. The 'kajol' eyed women with vermillion on their forehead, boarded the launch, one newly wed, one child sucking on his mother's breast, fake gold bangles, chapped lips. There was still a long way to go.

Or she thought, overwhelmed by the burden of all newness and old, unaware of surroundings, the love, the song, the milky sugared tea, the slow growth of feelings -- good and bad, the cuts and caresses, blistering burnt fingers, cigarette buds, the launch came to a halt when her eyes finally formed a perfect almond shape, closed and conquering.

A crowd screamed outside, a hundred maybe rallied for hope and peace, muddy feet and euphoric.

With the sun directly above her head she walked not tall, not with long strides, but finally looking outside of her melodramatic melancholic guilt drank poetic dreams. This was no place for such dreams. Raw mouths and covered bodies alienated her into acceptance.

"Where to?" a boy asked.
"Somewhere far," she answered.
"You are already far," he said. "You are carrying the distance, I see it in the lines of your forehead."
"I will know I have reached when the lines dissolve" she walked off.

The island she ended up in was full of bright-eyed boys. It made her want to ask them that clichéd question, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" but then she looked up and saw the soulless harsh faces of their fathers, with exactly the same faces except somewhere along the edges of the mangrove they had lost all their innocence, hope, and goodness. She didn't ask the children, she no longer wanted to know the future.

She walked backwards, backtracking she found houses with straw roofs, lawns filled with rice and rain, saris hanging next to shirts, touching loving becoming one, abundant sunlight poured in to touch and tag.

"How much?" she asked the little girl playing with her toes on the yard.

"The lines on your forehead and your reading glasses" the girl answered firm and fair.

"Sold!" she said wrapping the drying sari around her waist, she folded the shirt too and walked into her new home, carrying a hand full of rain...a new life began...


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