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Ranu- A Mother’s Unheard Outcry By Ema Khan - March 15, 2019



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any developing country, Socio-Economic growth is inevitable/indispensable. It’s no different for us, Bangladesh, a South-East Asian country in the Indian Sub-Continent. For ages, our country fell behind for its social clutches and superstitions. There are but plenty

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of backlashes and superstitions, unreasonable causes and narrow mentality which caused a big deal of stir in our country’s women for which they faced and fought for building each of their self-right position. Hence, they have turned the tables facing every coming odds

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relate to the circumstances. Ranu is a former garments worker. She had to come across a long way to reach the position where she is now but to be honest, she still has a long way to go.

Ranu is a middle-aged divorcee living with her youngest daughter, Parul (15), as a

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caretaker in a girls hostel for almost two years now. Her husband left her and remarried another woman because she was unable to bear him a boy! She was married off as a teenager at the age of 15. She immediately conceived her first daughter, Shikha. Shikha was married at 17 (21 by now) where she bore a baby boy. Pressure above the head of Ranu for a want of a baby boy with no result stirred the family situation. Her in-laws would verbally accuse and abuse her. After many tries and visits to the local quackery, she got

eLearning and LIS Education in Bangladesh

pregnant again at the age of 21 but to the sorrow, it was a girl too. It didn’t take her husband long to leave her and remarry another woman with the hope of having a boy.

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Devastated Ranu was also forced to leave her in-laws house with her two daughters. She went to her mother’s house but left that place with the little bit of dignity left in her. Her economical situation collapsed thus schooling for her two daughters wasn’t even a question in her mind. Later, she traveled to Dhaka and joined a garments factory. She arranged a room in the nearby slum area. Her days were passing with hardship and heartbreaking sorrows looking at her two daughters. The most surprising fact was every time when asked about her husband, she didn’t utter his name and she forbade her

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daughters when they tried to. Now there is where Education is necessary. It’s “Heaven lies under Husband’s feet” to women like her but on the contrary, it’s “Heaven lies under Mother’s feet” what she should have learned and taught her children as well. The sadder fact is that Ranu doesn’t know her full name, she’s basically Ranu if asked. Her name in the national ID is ‘Ranu Begum’. Her parents don’t know nor do they care what her full name is or her exact birthdate; neither month nor date. Her primary school teachers were responsible for all her documents. She doesn’t care about herself because even she believes that her birth wasn’t wanted and who would want to live with such a dreadful fate? She worked in the garments until her eldest daughter was married off at the age of 17 and she went back to her native village with her youngest one with the hope of having at least food 2 times a day for both of them. Garments workers get just enough wage to support their family members but they have to undergo a lot of pressures and disturbances. The slum area Ranu lived in wasn’t nearly suited for a family of 3 living. They slept on the floor, cold even in the warmer days. They cooked on a wooden stove, the roof was mostly covered with collected blue polythene that couldn’t stop the rain from flooding their house. The girls would get severely sick and it’s painful for her just to witness their sufferings while she couldn’t accommodate anything for them except for sitting by them; weeping and cursing her existence and her regretful luck. In the slum area, the girls would get picked and harassed sometimes by local vagabonds and even falsely accused of something or verbally abused by local shopkeepers. Once her youngest daughter, Parul, was falsely accused of stealing something in the flea market and the shopkeeper slapped her to the ground. After getting through a hard day of working life Ranu seems likely to be again punched by her brutal fate. A local shopkeeper used to follow her when she came back from work. She noticed for many days but tried to ignore it because she didn’t want any fuss or problems, she had to look after her daughters after all. But one day, while they were shopping that man, came to her with an indecent proposal and she refused immediately. She managed to escape from his grip and ran with her daughters. While she was stating this during my interview with her, her face collapsed that she was frightened like never before. Days passed on, the man kept his eyes on her. He even harassed her daughters openly. It was big trouble that was seemingly getting bigger and bigger every passing day. Until, one late night the man came into their house, with their house condition it was practically easy for him to barge in. He came in and started a ruckus and messed everything. He tried to convince her and pushed her to the ground. He was clearly physically tormenting her until the neighbors came in and stopped him. He was drunk and the neighbors found it difficult to hold him down. Later, rumors started and made their lives even more difficult until they were forced to leave the area. Miss Ranu didn’t agree at first but she received a marriage proposal for her eldest daughter from their native village, informed by her brother. Ranu didn’t hesitate because her brother was in charge of everything. She spent her last penny for the wedding. After the wedding ceremony reality struck as they were financially broke and couldn’t even gather food the two let alone other necessities. Then an acquaintance of her brother offered them a job as caretakers for both of them with a monthly salary of Taka 4,000.00 each person and food 3 times a day. It was an offer they couldn’t resist as they had no other option of livelihood. The mother-daughter duo again set their feet in Dhaka. Their room was adjacent to the hostel kitchen, very undersized and dingy. Everything was sorted out and they were living their lives. But for Parul, she wanted better, at least better than hers, a chance in life to redeem herself. Parul witnessed everyday the hostel girls living with them, studying for a better future and she had a little taste of that until now. Parul passed the primary level education in a school near the slum area and then continued study till class seven in her native village. Ranu apa (addressing a lady as a sister) stated a proposal of sending Parul to a nearby local school. But her superiors declined and stated that if she were to go to school she wouldn’t receive her salary because technically she wouldn’t be working anymore. It broke her growing fragile heart to pieces but it was reality and they couldn’t give up the salary because still for them it was a lot. Everyday, guilt grasped Ranu apa seeing those well-fed girls and realizing what she couldn’t give to Parul. Clearly, the girl is at no fault here rather only prey to brutal reality.



Then she thought marrying off her elder daughter, Shikha, would at least guarantee her a better life but little did she know. One year into the marriage, Shikha had a boy but the boy was born with a skin disease. After becoming 3 years old it was unpleasant to the eye and every month he had to have a treatment. Ranu apa would run to it whenever her daughter would call. But the checkups and medicines were costly and her daughter’s inlaws verbally tormented and abused her and her mother for not giving them any support while Ranu apa was trying her best-restraining everything and giving them money by borrowing from others. The in-laws demanded a good sum of money for the surgery and it was beyond her capability to collect so much money. She didn’t want her daughter to go through the same fate she once tolerated. Remembering what she had gone through, Ranu apa’s wet eyes couldn’t hold anymore and tears started dripping out which she tried to hold with her scarf. Looking around, Parul was also crying but silently by the door. Ranu apa told that after her marriage, her parents didn’t even look back once at her or tried to know anything about her, how she was or how her daughters were. She only can hope that the future will bring something better for them to replenish their lives for better, better from today.

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