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 The companionship and mutuality she grew up with in Bangladesh has been replaced by a demand that she assert control over, and take responsibility for, every aspect of her life.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