I had tears. They were unexpected as I wasn’t conscious of my sadness of leaving Bangladesh. But I was. I am. I wonder, only 2 weeks later, how are the friends I left behind, asking myself if I ever will go back or see them again. Almost 5 years are not a small bit of life. I spent those years in an out of Bangladesh and always trying to figure how a country so full of people and so small can get going. I tried to connect to Bangladesh with partial success. I loved the art, the poetry, the bright colors of the women’s dresses on the street in contrast with the greyness of buildings and very often the sky, I loved the crafts, the kindness of the people, their candor by nature. I kept some detachment just to maintain the longing for my country while waiting to return. I figured that now. I didn’t realize then. But in overall the decision of leaving didn’t make so much weight on me until I started to go to Nari Jibon. And the tears came out first there.
Taken by surprise, Nari Jibon somehow created in me a sense of belonging and caring in a particular way. I care for all those women that with expectation and generosity accepted me among them to share the little I could bring for them. I am grateful for that. It is a precious gift that Bangladesh gave me. Precious memories. I am not sure if my presence and assistance made any significant difference, but I am certain that had made a definitive difference in me.
The last days I could go to Nari Jibon, I was in awe every single time. These women shyly and cautious approached me under the gentle demand of Taslima (teacher and mentor of them) to get some help in opening their blogs. Suddenly, just a couple of weeks later were actively helping their friends to open blogs when I got stuck by the language barrier. Jannat, Zannat, Jesmin, were taking over the task and sat with friends bringing help.
A week later we could read a full graphic chronicle of Zannat of her excursion in the Lalbagh Fort. Others like Jainub and Sufi, so reluctant at the beginning, became active writers in difficult issues, revealing a combative and thoughtful spirit, or a lyric and poetic soul. Every time, a wonderful surprise.
From doubt and uncertainty with the camera, they became powerful photoshooters. We – Kathy, Taslima and I – made a small session the following week on how to take digital pictures, little basis on composition and some technical tips. Immediately after the room became like a swarm of euphoric bees buzzing around snapping shots between them.
The daughters of Jainub were playful models and I couldn’t help but to think that this 2 girls were already at a tender age getting empowered by the digital media.
My last time, I got a beautiful farewell. I hate to say good bye. When I leave a country I try to not give so much relevance to goodbyes because that way I feel that I will come back anytime, in any given moment. But also I hate to say goodbye because I have tears with independent will. They just flow without warning when I feel a bit emotional about something. And of course seeing this forty something women sitting in front of me, giving me a beautiful gift with all their love and care, my tears came out turmoiling my feelings of wanting to go with this recent wish of staying to somehow support all the spirit I can sense in them. Then when I saw that I was ruining the occasion I calmed down, enjoyed the cake, pose with all of them for pictures and later on, had a chat with the group I was working with.
I asked how they were feeling now that they were blogging, and one, Zannat, said in a definitive tone “I feel proud” . Wow. Again… awe. How powerful that statement.
I thought about how the fact of being able to express ourselves, to have the tools for that is taken for granted so often by most of us. How can transform us, once we start doing it. How affirmative is on ourselves. Specially if we are women. I had never deeply grasped the fact that as a woman in this world, I am privileged of having the opportunity of an education, to work and to travel, and being able to decide over my life. Nari Jibon has made me feel more responsible about it, to value it in another way and I am grateful for that.
Now it will be the challenge to overcome the distance. To keep in touch and keep giving the support I can. Part of the challenge will be starting to write in english on this blog sharing space with the posts in spanish, as now my longing will rotate towards the other side of the world while in Venezuela.
I feel the need to publish this post now dedicating it to my friends of Nari Jibon… it may happen that I will change bits of it, correct my english, post the link of photos in flickr that I need to upload yet and during a while wonder if I’ll translate or not this post to spanish…