Where Reality Truly Resides?
By Fariha Chowdhury
As a Bengali woman, I wanted to voice my pain for the Bangladeshi fast fashion workers who are thrown into terrible working conditions. My poem compares beautiful nature against the ugly poverty that drags Bangladesh down.
Along vast, flat plains And large rivers flowing from the Himalayas Roam Bengal tigers Their roars echoing across mountains With crystal clear water lakes Surrounded by every green hill Mothers carry their bald babies to the nearest nature tub Gaunt, stray dogs scarfing leftover white rice * Hearing Bengali traders calling bargains For everything under the sun Smelling fresh kebabs and naan Wafting through the busy streets Being priced at the lowest, just to be able to make a guaranteed profit Trading vivid pieces of clothing Sarees, jewelry, blouses And even bed covers, sheets, and lockets too The beauty of the displayed colorful fruits Juicy, plump full Mangos Firm, yet ripe Papayas Guava and Jackfruit, most loved A fun street fair view to get your somber day by You return to work for the bare minimum . . . Little boys crying for their mothers Working in the run down factory next door Falling asleep with wet tears rolling down their face They knock their heads into each other And doze off … * Men stand on noukas looking past the glass-like water Peering for spots to drop their nets Fish flee Only little boys voicing their fun Pure, large droplets of rain pat on the ground Creating muddy slides of fun * Rickshaws nearly crashing into cars Honking and cursing each other Soft nature seeks to rid poverty But how? ... Garment factory workers fingers cripple as their dreary eyes droop With their only motive being to fill their rumbling bellies They work endlessly Killing themselves to earn the bare minimum To get the bits and scraps To piece together of what is To simply survive— Each stitch determines a fate Each needle patches reality Each loop repeats the cycle . . . Clothes are piling up, closing in on our future Suffocating us— They are trapping us from change They are trapping us from advancing They are Giving into the larger consumers, the muscular trade networks The hungry, ignorant clients The supply chains Feeding the system to grow bigger And bigger And bigger And collapse— But not on them, on us. *2013 Dhaka garment factory collapse Rana Plaza
Girls Write Now On the Other Side of Everything: The 2023 Anthology
Do you know what it’s like to communicate with your family across a salty ocean’s divide? Do you want the sun and moon to enter your home with stories written in embers? Do you seek voices that will punctuate the darkness? Welcome to the other side of everything. It’s the other side of silence, the other side of childhood, the other side of hate, the other side of indifference, it’s the other side of sides, where the binary breaks down. It’s a new paradigm, a destination, a different perspective, a mindset, a state of openness, the space between the endless folds in your forehead, hopes for tomorrow, and reflections on the past. This anthology of diverse voices is an everything bagel of literary genres and love songs, secrets whispered in the dark of night, conversations held with ancestors under the sea.
I wrote this piece because I wanted to bring awareness to the Bangladeshi fast fashion workers. I used descriptive language to help transport the reader to the setting I am speaking about. I worked on this poem for quite a while and have gotten many people to edit it. I have never been to Bangladesh, but I have done research and looked at stories in order for me to construct this poem.
Fariha Chowdhury is from Bangladesh and is a sophomore in high school. She wants to expand her writing skills and experiment with new ways of writing. Fariha likes to try different cuisines, travel and spend time with her family. She is starting a club called Asian Alliance at her high school and wants to use the club to showcase different forms of writing to share perspectives about the history and diversity of Asia and use graphic design to make posters. Fariha is also interested in making podcasts.