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     Volume 9 Issue 40| October 15, 2010 |

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Eve the Avant Garde

Tanzi Khanam

God created Eve out of Adam's rib. That means Adam was originally a hermaphrodite?
Yes, (according to my Biblical studies professor) Adam was both man and woman before Eve jumped out with her own identity. (Sounds a bit like a scene from a sci-fi movie, doesn't it? 'And then the creature spawned out of him…')

However, Eve must have been quite a special part of Adam for God to make a whole person out of it. Perhaps, the Divine was telling Adam, “Embrace your feminine side.” And once he did, the idea proved a success and the partnership produced a visible legacy of 6.8 billion people. Start small and think big. (Although, I think we outdid their expectations.)

And it may seem like I am elevating womanhood but Divinity started it. We are His idea and one can't argue with that.

Besides, if I know I'm good, I have nothing to prove.

Anyway, I prefer to look at our origins in an inspiring light. Even if it's about us evolving from monkeys, once you get past the hairiness, can you imagine the mental and physical boundaries a certain group of monkeys must have pushed to go beyond the known to take that creative leap resulting in the present human? It's deliciously twisted.

If only I knew how they did it, I wouldn't waste time in becoming Super-human.

But back to Eve. She taught Adam all about reality and brought him down to earth. She made bold choices and bravely bore the consequences. And she was the first to show what it meant to be someone's companion, confidante, and comrade.

The day our lady materialised, she made a statement and left her mark.

And so, keeping my predecessor as an icon, I decided to be like her one Sunday. Except I used the androgynous, pre-Eve Adam as my muse.

It was that day in the week when I realised that I shouldn't have delayed my laundering and ironing because I had nothing to wear. When women say, “I have nothing to wear,” it means that they have nothing they want to wear. In other words, all I had was the leftover salwar-kameez sets that I had previously shunned due to their mundane, clichéd and ultimately, unappealing visage.

And on the other hand, the recently acquired tiger print and multi-coloured lawn were still pending fabrics in need of a tailor's construction (another case of my procrastination). There was a possibility of wearing them like a toga but I decided against it. Really all that could be done was stare at them with wistful longing.

In sum, the conditions were perfect to foray into the unique and unusual. And I love it when circumstances give me such an excuse.

Note, that while I am in Bangladesh, I go completely desi (salwar suits, sarees, and the like) 99% percent of the time. The remaining 1% percent is composed of pajamas and kaftans worn at night or to lounge around at home. I don't mind living fully traditional and cultural (and if I sound pretentious here so be it) because I don't get such an opportunity in America and also because it's practical--it's the best way to avoid lascivious male glances (and even then, nothing is foolproof) and it's a blessing in this humid environment (jeans stick like adhesive and give your butt and legs a sweaty feel: not hot).

Thus, like those aforementioned primates, I too took a chance and made that creative leap. Not a large one because at the end of the day I had to go back to live with my monkeys (and I was living with quite rigidly conservative ones at the time).

With that, I took out a collared rust orange and blue striped cream buttoned shirt --a large men's Hollister piece that I borrowed from my cousin. Spiffy on a man but on a woman? Worn with the sleeves rolled up and combined with a khaki-coloured salwar to give the illusion of trousers, I achieved my desired effect: androgynous, bohemian, interesting, distinctive, and alas, comfortable.

Again, keeping the old-fashioned in mind, I wrapped a linen shawl around my shoulders and Eve was officially Adam (albeit the slightly effeminate version).

I took my melding of male and female, East and West, and creativity and comfort out. Running errands to the bank and supermarket and stopping at the beauty parlour and mall, I did notice some curious glances and a few startled stares but all were momentary.

Armani’s androynous look.

However, the undesired effect was the reactions of the family I stayed with: the great-aunt hopped with her limp leg and whispered to the frail great-uncle who forgot his diabetes and hypertension to summon a council among his children to discuss my improper ways. According to the oldest son, ironically an international diplomat, I was “slipping.” (Into the bowels of hell?)

The maid (bless her disloyalty to her employers) filled me in on the rest of their discussion: What would the building guards and hired help say? What would the neighbours assume? What sinful feelings could I be arousing among males? With such notoriety, how could the members of Apartment C-3 ever show their faces?

If only I garnered that much publicity.

I was appalled. Here I was fully covered with an outfit loose enough to fit in not only me I, but also a small puppy and two kittens. Additionally, I could've done without the shawl but I respected the prevailing sensibilities.

If men can be lecherously attracted to a woman in nun-like garb or people feel that Western apparel gives a sense of immorality and should be condemned, then that's their sad issue stemming from their respectively foul and narrow minds.

I'm sure when Adam and Eve frolicked around wearing leaves and vines, God made no comment on their attire. But when the later generations started to develop vile mindsets and lost control of their conscience, He was compelled to throw in the “dress modestly” concept. Yet, as far and deep as I know, He never said what the chosen ideal was.

Just dress with some self-respect. And it's all right if some imagination and innovation are involved. That's all that I did.

Except I forgot that there are people who can't handle the different, the atypical or the extraordinary. Therefore, once you throw anything out of the norm at them, they freak out a bit like cockroaches running in frantic circles when the light is turned on.

In the end, all I can say is let the roaches have their darkness, as only moths can understand the beauty of light.

So, I'll take my ideas to places where they are welcome.

Like Mother Eve, I've been misunderstood and mistaken for nothing more than emulating Adam, and taking a chance.



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