Dina Ferdous(Translated by Sabiha Sultana):
I am a Sylheti by birth. In my childhood, most of the working women in my neighborhood were from Hindu families. It was impossible for Muslim women to do any job rather than teaching, although the situation has changed over the years.
Most of the relatives of mine were desperate to get their daughters married to any good foreign resident groom. My friend Sabina got married to a man from London before class nine. We went to see her when she came to her father’s house after marriage. She was wearing a saree, behaving like an elder, a grown-up.
After some days, another friend got married. We all went to her wedding. We heard the matchmaker first told about a marriage proposal from a guy from our country. But my friend’s father got angry about this. He did not want her beautiful young daughter to marry anyone else rather than an American resident groom. His dream was fulfilled. his daughter got married to a guy who settled in the US. As she got married to a man settled abroad, he was sure his daughter got an ATM machine.
From these relatives settled in USA or UK, their families and relatives always had high expectations. They used to try their best to make happy their Bangladeshi relatives. They would give new bikes to their nephews, bear the expense if anyone gets married. Their relatives will not think twice about excess expenditure- as it as, money was not going out from their pockets. They will make different functions for marriage ceremonies with thousands of people as guests.
When I was in college, people used to ask my mom if I had any marriage proposal from abroad or not. As I was not considered beautiful enough, everyone was tensed about me. However I completed my L.L.B and today, I am also living in America. People do not know how much hard work is needed to earn money here because the expatriates never share their part of struggles with families back home.
You must wear an expensive dress, must buy the most expensive cow for Eid- otherwise, you will not have respect as a ‘Bideshi Bari’- family who has someone settled abroad. You have to have an elite house, you cannot do any work yourself. You cannot have a small amount of money as salary as people of ‘Bideshi Bari’ has to maintain some standard!
When these people come to Bangladesh they have to bear several expenses including house bills, return tickets, gifts for everyone, shopping for themselves, etc. And the cash money to give people in here. With that money, they could live for months in America.
But I can say that if I get into any trouble in this foreign land, no one is here to help me. If I cannot go along with my husband then I have nowhere to stay with my daughter. If I am tortured, no one will help. Relatives are happy to know that I am in a foreign country. They also learned that dark-skinned girls also can go to a foreign country after their studies.
But I cannot say it myself what will happen tomorrow. I did not get married while in 8th or 9th grade. I have my own opinions. I am not the kind of person who would do whatever my husband tells me to do. I know where to compromise and where not to.
Though the typical Sylheti outlook has changed, still I will say those who want their daughter to get married to a foreign groom, please change your mentality. Those who will send money for your daughter’s marriage tell them to send that for your daughter’s education. Your daughter will get married on her own terms after finishing education and will bear her marriage expense herself. It will help her to flourish her personality. She will not depend on others in her life. She will know the disgrace to buy something for herself through someone else’s money.
It will not bring any fame if you feed thousand people in your daughter’s marriage. People will gossip if the food is not good. How rich the groom is or how much dowry you are giving, only the outsider people will talk about this. Only your daughter will know what will be her life in a foreign country. When you will take pride in having a foreign groom, you will not be able to say the truth if your daughter is in trouble because of this son-in-law.
Leave everything and educate your daughter. Help her to stand on her own feet if you really want a good future for her. Family help is much needed in a girl’s life. In every situation, tell her that you are with her, everyone is with her. Tell her to go as further as she can.
To read the original article in Bengali, Click Here
Dina Ferdous currently resides in New York. She started expressing herself through poetry in 1999. Other than that, she was associated with Sylhet Shilpakala Academy. She has been a prolific contributor to Women Chapter since 2016.
Sabiha Sultana is currently a BBA student in Bangladesh University of Professionals. Her hobbies include reading books, free writing, debating, painting etc.