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9 December, 2016 00:00 00 AM
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Let me go and stay in prison then

I would never prefer to suppress my spirit of learning new things, performing in important places, gaining knowledge, pursuing higher studies just because the society thinks we don’t need these
Mehnaaz Pervin Tuli
Let me go and stay in prison then

I want to feel free and unconfined by sharing what freedom seems to me as a Bangladeshi girl from a conservative family. I had stayed in residential hall in my Alma Mater for six years where I have discovered myself so many times and enabled myself to understand various perceptions. 

I had been blessed with the opportunity to study in the beautiful campus of Jahangirnagar University. Now I am a married woman living in Dhaka with my husband and in-laws. The problem that occurs is that often I get nostalgic and recollect the beautiful memories of the past time when my soul enjoyed freedom and the heart danced out of happiness. Can you guess what are those moments or happiness that touches my heart still now? 
When I experience restlessness and vexation to have some time of my own, I go to my campus and relish the memories. I sit on the grass and get wrapped up in the mystery of Mother Nature.  While studying there, freedom meant sitting with friends in the green grass under the blue sky and discuss about presentation and class lectures. 
To me, freedom was dancing in the rain with my lovely hall mates, inside the hall in the large yard/lawn. My soul cheered up after picking mangoes in the storm and eating those with fellow hall mates. On the other hand, I loved attending serious classes and learning about new perceptions, ideas, from some wonderful teachers. I even enjoyed participating in the seminars, conferences, and in various types of cultural functions.
Winter used to arrive there with full charm and beauty. Sometimes, I used to roam around the campus alone, talk with the birds, and eat ‘VapaPitha’ and ‘ChitoiPitha’. Sometimes, some friends will call me in the early morning and start quarrelling to get up and come out of the hall. The only reason was to go to a nearby village together to enjoy fresh date juice. That was something very refreshing and exotic.
While staying there, I forgot the pain of being a girl whose ultimate motive should have been to get married, stay at home adhere to thousands and thousands of rules. Don’t get me wrong because I am not against the sacred and beautiful relationship of marriage. Neither do I prefer walking in short dresses independently nor dancing at bars after drinking wine. I have no passion for all these useless and chaotic lifestyle. But by now, you must have understood the meaning of freedom for me. You must have realized why my heart leaps up with joy while thinking about those moments or why do I become so vehement to go to my lovely campus and find the days back. After sharing all these, I just can’t go on without reasserting that I am a human and a woman who loves to travel, read and enjoy life, feel the benevolence and beauty of nature. If these are all forbidden for me, then let me go and stay in real prison. 
Being a girl, if you wish to marry late, pursue higher studies, travel more to enrich your soul and gain experience, these does not make you a woman of loose morals. You cannot be taken as a granted by others that you will even sleep with men or you do not have your dignity. It only means that you want your soul to remain alive and flourish, it only means that you want to contribute for this world or nation or country. It might happen that you dream of becoming someone special or famous. A woman can definitely have the guts and will power to become a powerful politician, economist, celebrity, and also social worker. It will be a fortunate chance for the women of our country to get the spirit of becoming like Nishat Mojumdar or Jahanara Imam. It is also very much enticing and outstanding to have the courage and opportunity to become successful entrepreneurs or famous politicians, social activists like Taslimamiji, who is the founder and CEO of Techmania. The girls can dream of becoming like Ivy HuqRussell, a former investment banker, and founder of Maya with a vision to empower woman through giving them access to information. She is also the managing director of Maya.
I never personally felt passionate for getting freedom and acceptance to smoke publicly, or wear short dresses and roam with a couple of boyfriends. I do not mind facing obstacles in professional and familial life but one thing for sure is that I would not prefer to get double marginalized by the shackles of patriarchy. I would never prefer to suppress my spirit of learning new things, performing in important places, gaining knowledge, pursuing higher studies just because the society thinks we don’t need this.
But the saddest truth is that we have greater challenge to face when I find that one out of three women will be beaten, forced into sex slavery, or abused in her lifetime. When we are talking about freedom and mental refreshment, lots and lots of girls under the age of 18, are getting married forcefully and unhappily. Child marriage is a gross human rights violation that keeps girls out of schools, endangers their health and sentences them to lifelong sufferings and imprisonment. 
I ponder upon the fact that it is also a freedom to be at a stage from where I can talk or protest against these malpractices. So, every girl should never miss any chance of getting educated and self-dependent because education can be her greatest weapon while fighting against odds.

The writer is Lecturer in English
State University of Bangladesh

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Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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