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Celebrating the woman in me

The other day, a friend of mine sarcastically pointed out that Woman's Day is one of the most useless occasions in the calendar. Men and women have equal rights, and women being the whiners they are, still whine about inequality something that a black guy would do in California! Yeah, to an extent, my friend is right. However, what he missed out was the simple fact these rights are only 'talked about' but seldom enforced.

However, side-tracking this whole issue of rights, women still rock! We, girls get so many 'fair' advantages over boys only because we ARE girls. Take for instance, the liberty of crying at any time and at any place. Women can cry their way out through almost anything, but if a man does the same thing, he is 'gay' and 'immature'! Not to mention, if a guy slaps a girl, it's inhuman, the guy is a jerk and can be accused of physical abuse, and it's entirely the guy's fault. If a girl slaps a guy, it's still the guy's fault! Girls can always get free treats from boys, and if it's the other way round, the guy is 'cheap'.

If you're familiar with Jerry Sienfeld, then you'd probably know about how he pointed out how we, women always get our way around. He mentioned how women have to dress up, put on make-up and smile sweetly to impress a man; but they, men have to climb a mountain, walk on the Moon or probably, own a business empire to hear “wow!” from a woman. Added to that, we also have no limitations to colour when we're picking clothes or accessories, but a guy in pink or orange is so metro-sexual and repulsive!

Moving onto biological advantages, women have more folds in their brain, which increases their brain capacity. Hence, women are multifunctional, meaning they can think of several things at the same time; something that a guy would sweat to achieve. A recent Newsweek study has shown that in the US military camp, women soldiers have proven to be as physically strong and capable as men. Women are also emotionally stronger, since the entire struggle of 'establishing my rights' puts them through increased hardship and makes them more decisive. It's must be noted that girls are more intelligent than boys, especially when you consider the male-female percentages in scoring the best grades. We, girls are usually naturally ahead!

Many people hold misconceptions about how Islam treats women. Islam is a religion that promotes equitable rights between men and women, meaning it understands men and women are different and hence gives them their appropriate respect and rights. In fact, Islam treats women better than what our society would call 'fair treatment'. For example, in Bangladesh, there is a system of dowry that has to be given by the bride's family to the groom. However, Islam not only strongly forbids the concept of dowry, but also promotes giving 'denmohor'. This is basically a gift (i.e. not only money) given by the groom to the bride when they marry and which the bride can use in any way she likes, without being accountable to the husband for it. My friend's aunt asked for translations of the tafsir 'In Shade of the Qur'an' from his uncle for her denmohor. Now the thing is that all the translations of this book hasn't been published yet and whenever a new version comes out, his uncle has to run to the store to buy it for her. He's been doing it for years, and isn't done yet!

So, there you have it. I can go on about how a smart one of us can blow away ten guys with the tip of a finger-nail, and repeatedly prove how we, women are so cool. Geez, we even have a separate day to ourselves to celebrate and a separate division called 'Naari O Shishu Maamla' in the judicial system On a serious note, there are discriminations towards women in almost every part of the world and it is about time we recognize and respect women for who what they are and what they mean our lives. I cannot ever possibly imagine growing up without Mum's shouting and affection or without a sister to share precious secrets and sweet laughter with. I am proud to be a woman, and this is out to all the women: we totally rock!

By Sabhanaz Rashid Diya

The idealistic world

There was a time when I lived in a world of certainties. Everything was categorized in its own place-there were no reshuffles or adjustments to be made, no exceptions.

Because, you see, I lived in an idealistic world. There, good was always good and bad was always bad. White did not dissolve to form an array of colours.

This world was confident, it was certainly set-but it was peaceful. There were no complexities-everything was defined and nothing was contradictory enough to overrule the general law.

I always thought dreams and hard work could achieve everything you wanted. There was no 'no' -I knew only yes. I knew the world was a beautiful sunny place where you had your share of loyal friends and terrible villainous enemies. If a person was good, he had no bad qualities. Everything bordered on extremes, and stayed that way.

Until I grew up more, and realized what I thought a reality was merely a child's fantasy. Nothing is pure-there can be no normality and no generalization. There are dimensions to everything, albeit invisible. Dreams cannot always achieve what you want- you sometimes need other strategies to make them come to life. A person whom you had put on a sky-high pedestal can bring himself crashing down right before your eyes. There is no dominant good- everyone has some motive attached. I grew up, and as I changed from the starry-eyed kid to the more grown-up girl, my land of utopia shattered, and I realized. There are no blacks and whites, even though I preferred the world of monochromes instead of that of random colours, which do nothing but dazzle and blind you.

Friends are no longer friends, life isn't always good to you, dreams are crushed and monochromes don't exist. They would make life a lot easier, but they don't exist. I only have the power to wish they did.

By Anika Tabassum

Book review

The English Patient

During my passing interest in reality shows like Joe Millionaire and For Love or Money, what interested me was not the hook-ups, but how people acted when taken out of everyday situations and put into isolation, where they have to deal with each other on a day-to-day basis. I experienced it on a personal level during my treks and travels outside Dhaka: people form strong, but temporary bonds, and for the duration of the trip, you feel so close to that person. Then you return to real life, and everything goes back to normal, and chances are, you won't even stay in touch with that person.

Michael Ondaatje's 1992 Booker winner, which is supposed to be a sequel to another book called "In the Skin of a Lion", pretty much deals with a situation like this. The Second World War had left behind many ruins and relics, and some of them are in human form. The Villa San Girolamo in Italy, is one such ruin which has become home to such living war relics, the principle being the 'English patient', a man burnt beyond recognition, his memory fogged up by the trauma and the morphine which he needs to survive. At his side is Hana, a young nurse struggling to come to terms with the death of her stepfather whom she had loved so much.

Stumbling into this lonely nest is Caravaggio, a former thief, whose thumbs had been cut off when he got caught, and who happens to have been Hana's father's friend. Caravaggio instantly becomes suspicious of the English patient's claims of being English, and sets out to jog the man's memory to see if he can confirm his suspicions. As the tension builds, a new player enters the stage, in the form of Kip, the Sikh sapper, who's come to defuse the many un-detonated bombs planted in and around the villa. A feverish romance flares up between Hana and Kip, who quickly becomes a favourite of the English patient, both of them being possessed of the knowledge of guns and bombs.

As the story progresses, we see Caravaggio slowly teasing the English patient's history out of him, and Hana and Kip continue their strange, somewhat hostile romance, and receive insights into their individual characters, and their motivations for behaving as they do. The events of the War are ever in the background, mirroring the torrents of confusion flowing in and around the four in the villa.

That being as much as I can speak about the plot without giving away spoilers, I now move into the matter of language and style, where I can say how it read a bit like certain parts of Captain Corelli's Mandolin. The resemblance is sharpest where the narrative voice gives you the impression that the author is happily ensconced in an armchair somewhere in the room, and is lazily viewing the tableau before him. A loosely compartmental narrative, it is deeply psychological, and it's not hard to see why it merited the accolades heaped on it. I believe there's also a movie out starring Ralph Fiennes and Juliette Binoche amongst others.

One last thing before I sign off for this week: The winner for the Dreamers Win a Book contest will be announced next week, so you have till Saturday this week to send in your entries. For the less informed, one lucky winner will receive a signed hardcover copy of The Younger Gods, the final book in David and Leigh Eddings' Dreamers series for answering this simple question: Name the gods of Dhrall. Best of luck!

By Sabrina F Ahmad


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