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The picture they paint

It has been seen that on many a few occasions, mothers, and even grandmothers resort to scaring their children about their futures in their 'shoshurbaris' in order to fix some bad habit of theirs that won't go away. While this normally happens mostly to girls, who upon marriage usually move to their in-laws or husband's houses, guys aren't always spared either.

“Every time she sees my room a little messy, my mother gives me a look and in harsh tones says, 'Be as messy as you want. Let's see what you do when you're in your shoshurbari.'” Monika complains. Ryan says that his grandmother unquestionably brings up his future shoshurbari every time he wakes up late in the morning. This writer's own grandmother always reminded her of her future shoshurbari because she never did her own work. “Shoshurbari te gele ki korba?” is the common question.

Upon asking a few mothers as to why shoshurbaris are painted to be such horrible places, Mrs. Victoria Karim, Monika's mother, a Russian national married to a Bangladeshi and settled here for a very long time, said, “It's because every girl wants a nice marriage. And a nice married life after. We think that if not for anything else, at least for the sake of their Prince Charming and his family, they would fix themselves.”

Rafaat's mother explains, “If our children are disciplined and organised, people from their shoshurbaris would think that the girl or boy was brought up well at home. If these faults, however, were visible, the parents would be blamed for not having taught them proper ways of life. No parent wants that.” Samira's mother adds that a new family and new people will not accept her child's bad habits as easily as her own family. They would be more critical of them and the children would have a harder times adjusting if they didn't fix themselves.

The matters where they bring up shoshurbaris are usually matters that concern good living habits and lifestyles, ranging from cleanliness, laziness, bossiness, cooking abilities, clothing, eating and sleeping habits and so on.

In many instances, they do indeed prove true - it does become difficult to adjust. Mashura's sister had always been warned by her mother that if she did not learn how to cook, it would bring her trouble in her new home. And so it did, after she was married. This does not happen in all circumstances, however. One lucky man, always threatened by his mother for being too messy was elated to find that his father-in-law was just as messy as him! A perfect pair, some might say.

However, not all mothers or grandmothers bring up shoshurbaris all the time. Aftab's mother stated that nothing like that ever happened in her family when she was young and she was surprised it did to others. At the end of the day, the influences of shoshurbaris are forever imprinted in our lives from a very small age. Parents do have some logic behind it. They are worried about our futures and are, after all, attempting to make us live healthier, disciplined lifestyles - something many of us have trouble with. But still, we prefer the bogeyman.

By Neshmeen Faatimah

Doing it wrong but doing it anyways

We stitched a flag in secret. We found a bedsheet that more or less looked the right colour and cut it to shape. Threads stuck out around the edges, making the flag looked ragged and slightly used. We cut the threads. More came out to take their place. We tried not to think of it as prophetic.

We couldn’t really sow and we didn’t really know what we wanted the flag to look like. We each took a corner, we each took a line of thread and we each agreed that we would meet somewhere in the middle. What we drew on that bit of cloth would be new, would be the whole of our ambitions. We would create.

We worked through the night. The dim little sodium bulb only gave out just enough light that we could see the flag and nothing much else. In that semi-darkness and that burnt orange light the incomplete flag looked the wrong colour. Our threads looked like veins running through old, wrinkled greying flesh.

We didn’t let the grimness stop us. We sewed. The lines of our thread meandering asymmetrically on the surface we each drew our version of the future on that bit of cloth. When we met in the middle, the night had long since retired and dawn was etching layers of colour on the sky.

We took our new flag up to the roof of our little home and in the early ours of morning, we each took a good long look at it.

It was ragged and it was ugly and it was ours.

(No writers name came stitched with this article)

Tales from the Pool

“Help! Cough! Help, I'm drowning!” Your instructor smiles diabolically at you and just at the last moment, he pulls you out. Well, we've all had this experience, even the star swimmers who now storm the pool. But the thing is, when we do learn to swim, we also have some of the best (watery) moments of our life. Here are a few anecdotes I picked up from my swimming buddies each told from their own POV: (for apparent reasons no names will be given)

There are crocs in the pool: If any of you guys ever took a swim in the pool of Army Stadium then you'll know that there are four glass windows in the four corners of the pool for cameramen to get an underwater view. My younger brother and I used to swim there when one day he asked, “What are those windows for?” I replied, “There are crocodiles in there and they are occasionally let loose so that they can have a snack.” Even though he said he didn't believe me, it took me a week to convince him to get back in the pool.

Face your fear: When I was an 8 year old kid, I was terrified of water and no one could separate me from my trusty tire which kept me floating even in the deepest of waters. One day, my dad ran out of patience and as I was getting off the pool he grabbed my hand and threw me in the pool. I actually did two summersaults in the air before I crashed in deep water. It was the most terrifying 30 seconds of my life before I got rescued but something felt different within me and since then, water, which has been my enemy for so long, has been my pal. Know your enemy!

No diving: This sign is usually posted near most shallow pools but amateur swimmers gloriously ignore this warning which; of course included myself and I learnt how bad it was the hard way. I was showing two of my friends how to dive and told them to follow me. The fools jumped without giving me the time to move away, dropping over me together at once and all three of us found ourselves wrestling under water each trying resurface. We succeeded after drinking down a few gallons of water.

Don't swim near kids: There is really no need to elaborate on this one because regular swimmers know that kids in pools are usually followed by ghastly bubbles and at worse the pool colour sometimes gets funky. No wonder kids get their separate pool.

Where're my goggles?: One time this kid started crying near the pool and my investigation uncovered that the kid lost his goggles while swimming. Now usually I wouldn't bother, but seeing as the kid had a really hot sister, I decided to help out. The first few dives were unfruitful and while the others would've yielded, my pride kept me going. It took me 15 minutes and some unintentional gulps of chlorinated water to admit defeat when I heard the sister calling. She apologised and said that her brother actually didn't bring his goggles that day and left embarrassed without saying another word. KIDS!

There are tons of tales from the pool and don't even get me started on ponds and rivers. (Every time I ask my aunts and uncles to tell their stories, it always ends with how many fish they caught and the extinction of water bodies in Dhaka.) Drowning may sound scary at first but after you have experienced it three times (ahem) you just get used to it. But if you drown trying to gain experience then don't blame me. If you want experience, my advice, try the bathtub.

By Mahir


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