Women may be classified into two categories. Firstly, there are a plenty of women who are oppressed, suppressed, dominated by men since the birth of humans. Secondly, there are also many of the modern women who are self-inflicted. The first kind is well-known but the second kind is recent in Bangladeshi context. A common Bangla saying ‘Nodeer ekul vange to okul gore’ (One bank of a river breaks whereas the other constructs) may be kept in mind. Those very few modern women emancipated from all common troubles by parents, brothers, uncles and above all, husbands, cannot remain happy because of another common Bangla proverb ‘Sukhe thakle vute kilai’ (To feel ill at ease).
A modern woman in the sense of education and social norms such as fashion, style, conversations and discourses, participations in ostensive functions and progressive social activities, remains busy in most of the days. She hardly has time for herself. She is getting more and more a social being. She cannot avoid a number of things for which she is too busy to sleep properly, to concentrate on herself, to take care of her offspring with patience, to make her husband happy accordingly, to attend relatives conscientiously, and in another word, to plan for a better home and her surroundings. A competition may always be at work. She is over-conscious and presumes that she definitely needs to keep pace with her neighbours or other mates.Internal happiness cannot drive her forward. Outward competence regarding competition with other women plays a stronger role. As a result, she does not bother about her own and family affairs. What she is mostly concerned about is ‘matching’. Describing the Bangla word ‘Maa’ (mother) is always tremendous. The word is too short but too much significant. Similarly, to a modern woman (should not be confused with all modern women, only a few out of so many in Bangladeshi perspective) ‘matching’ is a brand name of beauty and the beauty of a modern woman is all-inclusive and all-pervading. What ‘money’ is to a man, is ‘matching’ to a woman. Without money a man is powerless and not valued or respected. Similarly, without ‘matching’ a woman cannot remain beautiful.
‘Matching’ is an indomitable matter which cannot be ignored even a bit as long as she has been outside her own home. A dress is not a dress at all unless accompanied by all other things including nail-polish, foot-wears, and doings of hair-style. The colour plays the supreme role in it—somewhere contrastively, elsewhere similarly and yet in between different shades of colour most suitably as if her sense of colour is all above her other qualities.
Over-smartness and over-consciousness in perspective of competition are playing a substantial role in the unhappiness among those women. They cannot relax until their smartness competes with the other participants in a wedding ceremony, birthday party, April Fools’ Day, Valentine’s Day, International Friendship Day, International Women’s Day, International Mother Language Day, Bangladesh Independence Day, Victory Day, on the occasions of celebrating new year, Pohela Boishakh, Pohela Falgun, Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Azha.
Among these occasions especially for the Muslim women Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Azha are special and for longer period. In one way they pass the month of Ramadan with difficulty for fasting and in the other they cannot take rest at all. Shopping makes them much busier and more anxious. They start shopping on the first day or even some days before the month and try to finish shopping earlier as every day afterwards the shopping gets more difficult. After they have finished, they cannot remain done but subconsciously keep searching what else remains and soliloquizes whether there is any mistake which must be solved before it is too late. Nowadays it is a matter of great relief that there is no such thing ‘too late’ because shopping continues the whole night till the Sun rises on the eid-day. The only problem is with any defect or fitting-problem as the tailoring or changing is not possible.
Eid shopping can be compared to dieting. While dieting you will try your best to avoid rice on lunch and on supper. As you have bypassed rice, you will eat automatically a little of whatever you come across as you remain hungry a bit, be it sweet or soft-drinks or some others. Similarly, as you have finished shopping earlier than many others, you will still keep on shopping like learning, earning or talking never ends. Besides, you will keep on accompanying others during their shopping and come across some things which must be deemed worth-buying. Unfortunately, if you have come across a nice dress, you cannot avert its temptations and buy it, even when you have no alternative to buying other things to establish another matching. You cannot blame them because it will look odd if they wear the morning dress in the afternoon on the eid-day and the same dress while serving the guests or visiting some relatives or friends the following day. That is why they must have three sets of dresses.
The female are not to blame. The marketing department is to blame because it researches, watches foreign channels and contributes to the field of smartness. The department believes in change and innovation. Everyone knows the bride has only one chance to wear a wedding saree for the first and last time. As a result, she has to follow the poem ‘after searching the whole world, 108 blue lotus flowers’.
Matching and make-up are not identical but complementary to each other. Where there is matching, there is make-up. Otherwise, all efforts will go in vain. While portraying, an artist marks once on the canvas and then looks at the person being portrayed. Similarly, according to matching, make-up goes on until heart seems contented. If we take the matter positively, as we should except some, we are bound to eulogise her aesthetic sense of beauty. She is probably more accurate and minutely perfect in aesthetics.
The readers are once again reminded of my intention which is not meant to hurt those self-inflicted modern women but to make them ponder over how they can be happier themselves along with ensuring others’ happiness, how they can be more reasonable and rational appropriately. Till now the number of these women is relatively small. Actually, the situation has just started budding. Still it is not irrelevant that our countrymen are, commonly and frequently, said, ‘Hujuge Bangali’ (Bengalis through the motion). In other words, we are extremely ‘contagious’. What is 1% today can rapidly reach 80% tomorrow as we have seen in the cases of share market, Destiny, number of BBA, MBA, Computer Science students and also like the epidemic forms of diarrhoea and cholera in the past. Besides, Bangladesh is such a poverty-stricken and over-populated country which needs proper attention and nourishment and should be upgraded to a certain level so that it can keep pace with other developed countries. At the end some of Nazrul’s words may be cited “....ordhek tar koriache naree ordhek tar nor” (.....half done by the woman and the other half by her man).
The writer is Assistant Professor of English and Director of Language Centre, University of Information Technology & Sciences (UITS).