By: Faizah Aditya
Asian University for Women, Chittagong, Bangladesh
She walked an easy comfortable gait. As her hands gently swayed to the rhythm of her footsteps, the bangles on her wrists clinked softly, beautiful, fragile glass bangles on one while the other held bold patterns of wood and brass. Her long, jet-black hair blew with the breeze, strands flying around her face, some of them shades of brown and blonde. As her delicate fingers came up to brush those stray strands away from her face, her French manicured nails caught the light of the setting sun. It was majestic, or maybe just plain, simple, and ordinary.
“Sakinat Maliha Islam!”
She halted on her steps, a faint smile playing on her red painted lips as she turned on her heels, her dainty feet twinkling to the movement as her anklet shifted. She looked back with those dark kohl-lined eyes to see the face of the only person she knew who called her by her full name.
“What’s up Mr. Shouvik Ghosh?” She inquired in English, looking into the face of her best friend.
“You look beautiful. Not every woman can hold up a style like yours. Is that a katan saree turned into a skirt that you are wearing with your top?” he asked, his eyes twinkling with amusement.
She chuckled. Her clay beaded earrings swayed with the movement as she nodded and replied, “The pattern makes for a great skirt, don’t you think? Oh, that reminds me!”
She reached into the jute bag hanging by her shoulder, fishing for something elusive. His eyes caught the fading henna design fashioned like a dream catcher on her upper arm before drifting to her bag, where her hand continued to search.
“What is it?”
“Oh, found it!” She brought out a folded piece of paper and handed it to him eagerly. It contained the verses of a song she had composed.
While he opened up the paper, she bounced on the balls of her feet with a mix of anxious excitement and blurted out, “It’s titled ‘Bangladesh Residing Within.’ The first verse is in English. I envision it being sung by someone with a voice like Adele’s…an edgy soulful introduction to the world of Bangladesh! Then we switch to Bengali in the next part. I took inspirations from Lalon, Nazrul songs, and folktales! It is supposed to…”
She was shushed by Shouvik, who gently grabbed her shoulder, a smile on his lips as he whispered softly, “Let me read it first at least?”
She blinked and laughed, nodding and gesturing him to do so.
While he read, she studied his face with beady eyes for the sign of any emotions, her hands unknowingly playing with a thin gold chain around her neck that she had been wearing since she was five. She sighed, growing impatient with his silence.
“Is it that bad? Don’t tell me. Okay no, I need to know. You promised honest feedback!”
He looked up and met her wide eyed gaze, revealing no emotions before breaking out into a grin and hugging her. “It’s brilliant, Ms. Sakinat Maliha Islam! I knew you had it in you! I could envision it being played live, a rendition of old and new, with tunes from the guitar and drums to the ektara and dhol!”
She grinned a Cheshire cat grin from ear to ear as she heard his feedback, still hugging him tightly before slowly pulling back, her eyes glittering with delight as she said, “It’s like a piece of my soul, a harmony of old and new, the way I see my country continuously changing and evolving but never forgetting its roots…”
He interrupted her again—it was a habit—and said, “Just as you do. You carry your traditions and culture around with pride. Both old and new, you are the epitome of old living in harmony with the new…Bangladesh truly does reside within your soul.”