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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Kanwal Rahman, July 15, 1999. Interview K-0817. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

A Bangladeshi must learn American-style independence

Rahman reflects on Americans' independence. The companionship and mutuality she grew up with in Bangladesh has been replaced by a demand that she assert control over, and take responsibility for, every aspect of her life.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Kanwal Rahman, July 15, 1999. Interview K-0817. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

Do you think that that sense of community that you had back in Bangladesh is reflected here in any way? In the life that you live?
KANWAL RAHMAN:
I would say there's no resemblance to what the life I left, lived back home. Ahm. . . Even the sense of community—. Sure, I was a newly graduated dental surgeon, but I was still living with my parents and I had, ahm. . ... relations distant and close, dropping in all the time. You're having interactions of community festivals, like your Eid festivals—, your,er. . ... ahm. . ... I mean, Muslim festivals and Hindu festivals wherever everyone goes regardless of any religion. Even the Christmas holidays have far, far more meaning—. Had far more meaning there, because you have so many Christian friends, you were invited out—. Here, more or less, it has been isolated because her, more or less, people spend time with, with their own families and not go out of their way to invite, outsiders for the family, er. . .. Reunions during Christmas or Thanksgiving, and, er. . .. There the life was more protected. Here the life is totally independent. I'm responsible for, any kind of, er. . .. Let's just say, any kind of negative, er. . .. Situation. I'm always, I always have to calculate I have enough time, whether I should be there, whether, waiting for the bus at this time in, Durham, for example, at this time, isn't safe, because, where—. Those are the things that we never had to worry about, because there was someone or the other always with us. Independently—. Independence is fine, but when a lot of your independence is taken away by doing stuff that, you really—, need to spend time on concentrating on yourself or your creativity, which I have the time there, I don't have here. I have to cook meals, full blown meals after I come back from work at nine-thirty, I, cook an clean on my day off, and, er. . . whatever time I have left after that, I usually spend time either reading or, or trying to improve, the self, and that's, and I guess by the time you come to this stage in life, that becomes a very enormous priority.