a Manifesto

Originally Published as the Editorial of Khola Baksho Little Magazine, 2007

We often lead lives shut in pretty little boxes. Society does that to us. But sometimes we do it ourselves. We are often told, “Do this, and don’t do that,” or “Do it this way, and not that way.” And we do what we are told to do. In fact, we even start telling ourselves these same things, and we start believing, “This is what I’m meant to do and this is what’s good for me.” And that’s it – we have our shut ourselves in pretty little boxes.

But over the last two years, we have pleadged ourselves to open these boxes. But who are we? Why will we open the boxes? And how?

We know that the word ‘marginalized’ is being used a lot these days. Taking cue, we must say that we are marginalized. We are not among those who lead ‘satisfied’ lives in the socio-economic centres of this city. We are not among the ‘highly-educated,’ greatly respected elederes who run the recognized cultural life of the city. So, our words do not reach most people. Our laughs, our sorrows, our anger, our loves and hates do not find mention in newspaper headlines. Our writings, our poems and stories are not analyzed in comfortable air-conditioned rooms. Because, from the very beginning, we have been put in pretty little boxes. And within those boxes, we grow up, leading expected lives.

It is commonly known that there are certain things we are capable of. For instance, we can work in rich people’s houses, we can set up shops int eh market, we can help decorate the colorful Durga idols during the pujas, we can put layers of plaster-of-paris on the walls of other people’s homes. And yes, we are also known to go to school sometimes, sing and dance perhaps, known to function as mouthpiees for NGOs. this is what our lives inside the box look like.

But writing poems? How can that be a part of the daily lives of the ‘marginalized?’ Well, this is where the revolution begins. This how we have opened our pretty little boxes. We have opened them because we strongly believe that our lives lived inside the boxes are terribly incomplete. We can’t go on living in other people’s terms, catering to their expectations, listening to what they tell us to do. We must talk about ourselves in our own words, on our own terms. Poems and stories of our lives will now be written, and we will write them ourselves. And we will share our poems and stories with everyone. At the margins and at the centres, our new identity will be born, our new existence will flourish.

posted (and written) by Kalam’s Youth Staff and Khola Baksho Editorial Team

Chandra Bagchi, Jhulan Sarkar, Joy Gharami, Nargis Khatun, Nasima Khatun, Reshma Khatun, Rina Khatun, Saraswati Mondol, Shiuly Begum, Sudeshna Bag, Bina Dalui, and Uma Dutta

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