aishajamil

Posts Tagged ‘Aisha Jamil’

How Women in Literature Have Dealt with Gender Expectations

In 2012 on March 2, 2012 at 5:01 am

The day will come when men will recognize woman as his peer, not only at the fireside, but in councils of the nation. Then, and not until then, will there be the perfect comradeship, the ideal union between the sexes that shall result in the highest development of the race.”

Susan B. Anthony, a women’s rights activist said these words more than a hundred years ago. She was describing her hopes and dreams for a better world in which women had the same rights, roles, and expectations as their male counterparts did. Throughout history as well as literature, women always have had set roles directly relating to their culture and environment. Some like Saraswati in Thrity Umrigar’s Bombay Times have learned to adapt to it, while others like Esther in Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar simply have not. No matter what culture, decade, or society, both of these women grew up in, they both learned their gender expected roles early on, however, one did not chose to give in and be like all the rest.
Bell Jar

In the beginning of Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar, Esther Greenwood, a young woman who works at an internship for a magazine arrives to New York City in hopes of making something out of her life. She is not exactly sure of what she wants. However, she is sure of what she does not want. Living a life in New York City during the 1950s was every girl’s dream. Esther herself claims that she was supposed to be having the time of her life.

 “I was supposed to be the envy of other college girls just like me all over America who wanted nothing more than to be tripping about in those same size seven patent leather shoes I’d bought in Bloomingdales…drinking martinis in a skimpy, imitation, silver lame bodice stuck on to a big, fat cloud of white tulle, in the company of several anonymous young men with all American bone structures and everybody would think I must be having a real whirl.”

She is supposed to be enjoying all this, but she clearly is not. Esther knows that she lives in a culture that has clearly defined the roles of men and women. The men in this society hold all the appealing jobs, fulfilling their ambitions and dreams along the way. They get to hold the financial, physical, mental, and emotional power over women. Esther does not like that. She knows that in her society, women don’t have much choice but to stay home, cook, clean, and are definitely expected to provide their men sexual pleasure along with emotional warmth and security. Esther is simply not excited by the big city or its glamorous culture. She loathes the lifestyle girls her age are expected to worship and imitate.

Since Esther cannot bear the thought of that way of life, she decides not to marry her longtime boyfriend or fiancé Buddy Willard. Buddy Willard, in a sense, is the conventional male figure in the novel. He wants to be the provider for Esther and their family while she fulfills her role as the housewife. At one point, Buddy Willard even tells her that once she is married with his children, she wouldn’t need to worry about her independent life anymore. She wouldn’t need to write poetry or any other sort of rubbish. All of this terrifies Esther in a way because she is not so sure that she can escape this cycle. She begins to think that “maybe it is true that when you have married and have children it is like being brainwashed, and after you went about numb as a slave in some private, totalitarian state.” To Esther, marriage is a sort of a death trap and that is why she is so keen to run from it. Nonetheless, this is not easy for her because everywhere she looks, she sees all the women who are caught in this trap. Esther tries her best to run away from all this. However, rejected from the writing that she once was passionate for, she has nothing to turn to. She knows no one who is living the life that she wants. The few women in her life who are close to it are either lesbians or living worse lives than her. All this makes it much more difficult for her to build herself an identity. No one supports her in this task, including her own mother. She has no successful role models in her life either.

This lifestyle causes Esther to lose her sanity in a way because she is left standing alone because she chooses to be different from the social norm. She develops an alter ego, which she names Elly Higginbottom. Elly represents everything Esther is not. Elly is the extrovert, social, cheerful personality that represents what is expected of young women in that time period. This alter ego eventually brings Esther to her downfall. Elly causes Esther to falter. As the months go by, Esther becomes more and more unstable until she eventually ends up in a mental institution. She is confused, depressed, and alone.

However, once hitting rock bottom through her various attempts of suicide, Esther eventually realizes that she needs to regain her identity again by learning to not give in to society’s demands of her. This does this by becoming sexually active. Esther knows that the one thing that her society totally divides the men and the women in is sex. Sex, which is socially unacceptable for an unmarried woman, is the path to her release from all this nonsense in her life. Esther decides not to be dependent on the societal norms anymore and thus loses her virginity on her own terms. At last, she is free from all these expectations. Free at last.

In Bombay Times, Thrity Umrigar portrays the lives of the residents of a middle class apartment building. These people are all Parsi, a small ethnic minority in India who are gathered at a wedding and are reminiscing about their past. Among them is twenty nine year old Adi, whose life has been shattered by a young girl from his past. That girl is Saraswati, a poor farm worker who lives and works on a gigantic Parsi plantation. That plantation is owned by the most powerful man in the village, Nari. Nari, often called a dirty, old man, behind his back is the kind of man who could make a woman feel naked by just looking at her. He owns every worker in the village, including their wives and daughters. Among them is Saraswati, who unlike Esther, has to learn to accept her fate as a young woman in society.

Saraswati’s role in her society is a bit more complicated than Esther’s because she has to live a double role. Externally, she is presented as a hard working laborer who during the day, works to support her family. She is a good girl who listens to what her parents say and has no say in anything whatsoever. But, at night, her parents have no say once Nari gets control of her. At night, whenever Nari chooses, he is allowed to pick any worker and use them however he wishes. Thus, at night, Saraswati is Nari’s property and he can use her for anything he chooses. At night, Saraswati becomes a sexual object who is owned by the most powerful man in town. When Nari decides that Adi is old enough to lose his virginity, he picks out Saraswati as his first victim. Saraswati is a victim because she is forced against her will to have sex with Adi. Growing up in an impoverished home, Saraswati and the girls living similar lives to her are expected to do the same. They are expected to be sexual objects at night while cooking, cleaning, and working out in the fields during the day.

Saraswati, unlike Esther, doesn’t fight back or try to change her expectations. Instead, Saraswati learns to adapt it and once her honor has been taken away from her, she deals with it in a totally different way. Saraswati decides to kill herself by lighting herself on fire. She does this to protect her family honor.

In conclusion, all women throughout literature, no matter what culture, decade, or environment they grow up in, have certain expectations because of their gender. Both Esther in Bell Jar and Saraswati in Bombay Times have certain expectations and roles. Esther deals with it by defying her odds and not meeting any of those expectations. Saraswati deals with it by meeting those expectations and adapting to her environment.

Dark Abyss Hotel: What Do You Think So Far?

In 2012 on March 2, 2012 at 4:09 am

The beginning of a short story that I wrote when I was 16. What do you think so far (in terms of the writing)? I would love feedback on this. Any type. Just don’t be exteremely rude. 🙂

“All passengers please take yourhandbags and other items and exit the plane. Flight 911 had to make an emergency landing due to inclement weather. All passengers will be staying atthe Dark Abyss Hotel located a mere 13 miles from here. This flight will resume tomorrow morning at precisely 1200 hours. Please be advised that due to some technical problems, the lighting in this part of the area is not functioning. Thank you,” said the ominous voice from the speaker. The man glanced to his left andlooked out the window to see a distant tornado approaching. Something didn’t feel right. He felt that something atrocious was going to happen. He uttered some cursed words under his breath and entered the small terminal. The terminal was a small sort of walkway that seemed to cave in on the man, who was claustrophobic. He walked into the airport and looked around him at the scary shadows looming beside him. Since the airport had no electricity, the man had troubleseeing around him (he was already blind in one eye), and just to make it worse, he couldn’t understand the people around him. They kept speaking in some sort of foreign language, which the man recognized as a Middle Eastern dialect. The place had a ghostly chill to it, as if all the people walking around him were the eidolons of the supernatural world.  The man knew he was xenophobic and a little paranoid, after all, what happened las tyear in France, and the year before in Mexico wasn’t exactly helpful either. However, this was different. The man felt eyes creeping up and down his spine everywhere he went. As he paced down the darkhall in the airport, he noticed a pair of bloodshot eyes following him. The man got really nervous and jogged down the hallway and finally reached the luggage counter. Getting his luggage, he ran out of the airport and signaled for a taxicab to stop.

A taxicab pulled up to the man and asked the man in a foreign language where he would like to go. The man pointed to a card with the words “Dark Abyss Hotel”. With a quick uncanny jerk of the accelerator, the cab driver drove away. The man was startled. How dare that foreigner drive away! The next cab that pulled up refused to go to his destination, but with forceful persuasion and the 100 dollar bill the manpulled out, the driver reluctantly agreed.

Reaching the Dark Abyss Hotel, the man noticed a black limo had pulled up behind him. From the outside, the hotel was painted black and red, and it was shaped it the image of a skull bleeding.The hotel was originally designed for teenagers and kids who came into town fora haunting and fun experience; however, due to its low number of guests, the airport had bought the hotel for occasions like these. Paying the driver with his only 100 bill, the man entered the dark hotel and saw on his right, a statue of an angel weeping blood. The man was shocked and horrified. He checked in, and started up the stairs to reach his room. He entered the room andexhausted from everything, decided to take a shower. He walked into thebathroom and looked in the mirror. The last thing he saw were those bloody eyes.

Day 2 of Mexico Trip: Small Towns

In 2011 on November 8, 2011 at 3:30 am

The second day was another day of studious driving. I had spent the night in Zacatecas, Mexico after being warned by a local to not drive that particular road at night. Although carjackings were not the norm, the idea of driving through a mountain at nighttime did not seem smart. As a rule of thumb, do not do anything in a foreign country that you would not do in the U.S.

I reached the town of Dolores Hidalgo, the home of Mexican’s independence and talavera (or ceramics). We walked around, chilled, ate home-made ice cream and daddled in and out of stores. While most of the stores featured pottery, artwork and garden ornaments, one particular store had an assorted of phallic looking talavera with Jesus on it. Weird, right? (By the way, if you want to see photos of that, ask me..I don’t want to put inappropriate pictures on this blog!)

Talavera

I passed many small towns including Aguascalientes (meaning “hot waters” as its known for its hot springs) until we reached the town of San Miguel de Allende. (On a side note, Aguascalientes is known for its national fair — San Marcos and one of the most beautiful sunsets in the world).

Aguascalientes, one of the safest cities in Mexico

Located in the state of Guanajuanto in central Mexico, San Miguel de Allende has been an important attraction for artists from all over the world. It was the one place where I actually saw more white people than anywhere else in Mexico. Even though the town is located in Mexico, San Miguel had an odd resemblance to French cities with its cobblestone streets, dainty bakeries and artsy culture.

First Starbucks I saw in Mexico

First Starbucks I saw in Mexico

A striking cathedral in the city center, San Miguel really put me at awe. I only saw structures and architecture like this in pictures and the Travel Channel. Seeing it in person — is something amazingly different.

La Parroquia, Built in 1880

That day, San Miguel had major festivities going on for the upcoming holiday season. Nativity scences, wreaths, lights and Santa Claus — these people love Christmas.

Nativity scene

Merry Christmas

It’s funny how a person can remember certain details as though it happened yesterday. Even though I finish writing this blog entry almost a year later, I recall perfectly clear that what I even ate that night: chicken enchiladas with green sauce with a Fanta. An orange Fanta that I remember thinking was so yellow in color…Writing about this experience, I miss mainland Mexico more than ever. I miss the people, I miss the landscape, I miss the food and most of all, I miss the memories.

Happy fishing.

2010 in Review

In 2010 on January 9, 2011 at 12:58 pm

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

The Leaning Tower of Pisa has 296 steps to reach the top. This blog was viewed about 1,200 times in 2010. If those were steps, it would have climbed the Leaning Tower of Pisa 4 times

In 2010, there were 14 new posts, not bad for the first year! There were 21 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 2mb. That’s about 2 pictures per month.

The busiest day of the year was June 14th with 88 views. The most popular post that day was Five Types of World Cup Fans.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were facebook.com, touch.facebook.com, twitter.com, alphainventions.com, and mail.live.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for stabbed in the back, stab, stab in the back, back stab, and stabbed.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Five Types of World Cup Fans June 2010
20 comments

2

My Story February 2010

3

What the Hell is a Blog? February 2010
7 comments

4

“Nigga, Please.” March 2010
9 comments

5

Happy Birthday to Me! May 2010
6 comments

Abandon All Hope Ye Who Enter

In 2010 on August 8, 2010 at 11:15 am

There comes a time in everyone’s life when he or she is stabbed in the back very hard.

 Whether it is from a family member, a close friend or a romantic partner, that wound is insurmountably deep. Most of the time, it heals. Sometimes, it just leaves a scar.
 
 
 

And in rare cases, it never heals properly.

 
 

Back when I was a freshman in high school, I was asked to read several excerpts from Dante’s Inferno. For those of you who don’t know what that is, Dante’s Inferno was the first part of a 14th century epic poem called The Divine Comedy. It gave vivid details of what hell is like in all of its nine circles. Before reading the poem, I was asked to describe my ninth level of hell. Not knowing that Dante agreed with me, I wrote about betrayal. Everyone that has sacrificed someone’s trust. Everyone that has given up their loyalty. Everyone that has taken a sharp knife and plunged it into a dear one’s back. They are the ones who would be there. They are the ones would be suffering and writhing in pain and anguish in hell. They are the ones who would have an actual knife stabbed in their backs for eternity. That was my perception of hell back then.

Now, it’s slightly changed.

As I grow and mature into my 20s, I have realized that  people have their reasons for doing what they do and acting the way they do. Sometimes, those reasons seem justified; other times, absurd. Sometimes, spiteful. Everyone thinks differently and at the end of the day, it is those differences that cause conflict for us. It is those differences in their perception of the world, their differences in their ideas that collide with ours; and most of all, it is the the difference in  their perception of us. The individual. The question we ask ourselves – Is what I am getting worth more than my relationship with this person?

And unfortunately, sometimes the answer is yes.

We’d like to think that we wouldn’t betray anyone’s trust. Or at least anyone we care about’s trust. And believe me, there are a rare few, like my father, who would never do that. But, when it all comes down to it, as humans, we are wired to betray. We are wired to be selfish and we are wired to do what is best for us.

My reason for writing this article is not because I was recently stabbed in the back by anyone nor is it because I did that to anyone.  There have been times in my life that has happened to me. But, fortunately for me, those wounds were the healing kind. I have always told my friends that I would be rather be the one that gets hurt rather than the one who does the hurting. But, now I am starting to realize that maybe that should not always be the case. Sometimes, enough is enough and you have to hurt people in order to move on.

 I have two reasons for writing this piece. One – because this past week, I saw a dance on television that was centered around betrayal. The dance told a story of a friendship whose trust was betrayed in order for one to move on. I encourage everyone to watch it – not for the technique, but for the emotional aspect of it. It hit me and I knew that that was going to be the topic of my next piece. The second reason I wrote this entry was because last week, someone told me that my last blog entry was not from the heart. Funny enough, they were right. It wasn’t. This week, my words come straight from the heart and nothing but.

Happy Sailing.

– Aisha

And What Annoys You?

In 2010 on July 21, 2010 at 12:24 pm

Pet peeves.

We all have them. We all hate them. We all do them.  

As a kid growing up and even as a young woman now, my biggest pet peeve used to be a simple action – picking your nose.  

I just hated it when people picked their noses. It wasn’t that I wouldn’t do it. I just would do it when people weren’t looking. But it wasn’t just the fact that people loved to pick their noses in public — it was the fact that they expected you to shake their hands afterwards. And what made it worse was when you shook someone’s hand and it felt all slimy and full of snot. One time, during my high school lunch, I wiped off “crumbs” off someone’s face only to discover it was snot. How horrendous! And don’t remind me of the women I’d see not washing their hands after they’d use the restroom. Unfathomable. Still gives me the chills to even think about it!  

Thus, it leads me to my top ten list of my worst pet peeves, not including my nose picking. See if you agree and let me know what yours are!  

10. Itching in inappropriate places – This includes itching scabs till they bleed, big mosquito bites and in places where the sun don’t shine. Nothing ruins my dinner like seeing a grown man with his hand down his pants scratching God-knows-what. There is a reason we cover some body parts more than others. And my guesses are that by thinking about people itching, you have just itched yourself in a few places already.
  
9. Eating (or drinking) out of the box – Okay, if you live by yourself or just with your romantic partner, I can understand the occasional sharing of a big juice box or other items, since you already exchange a lot more germs on a daily basis. However, for everyone else out there, don’t do it! Getting a glass or a plate out might take a few extra seconds, but I tell you, it will save others from getting your nasty mouth germs.
  
8. Leaving the toilet seat up – Now, there are many bathroom related pet peeves that I can think of that would annoy the crapoola out of me. But, guys and the weird chicks who would leave the toilet seat up, nobody wants to put the seat down! Now, don’t give me the age-old argument that women should be considerate and leave the toilet seat UP. No, toilet seats were made for women. Urinals for men. So be kind and considerate when using OUR items and leave the seat down.
  
7. People who TyPe LiK tHiS** – Maybe it is a foreigner thing but I just never understood why people type all retarded sometimes. I mean, do they think it’s cool to type like that? Using ReTarDeD fOnT is not cool, even if you live abroad and have a tendency to look cool. Also, taking pictures drunk and posting them on Facebook to show how drunk you are – not cool either.
  
6. Leaving a crappy tip – Rather than leave me a crappy tip, take your dollar back and clean up the table for me. How about that?
 
5. Interruptions – When someone is telling you something, don’t interrupt and start up a conversation about something totally unrelated. It is rude and makes you look cocky and selfish. So many times I would have a conversation that would go something like this:
Me: So, the other day, I was at the mall and I ran into…..
Rude Interrupter: OMG, I have to tell you! I can’t fit into my size four underwear anymore! I am so fat!!!
Me: Oh, that sucks…
Awkward Silence.
So, to all those rude interrupters, shut it for once and listen to what the other person is saying. Good listening skills can take you a long way.
  
4. Being rude to the server – Now, I have been out with far too many people who have a knack for being rude to waiters. Thus, my choice of friends hasn’t been great in this department. However, being a waiter myself, I want to say … Well, I cannot say it on here since it would be too inappropriate. But seriously, don’t be rude to the servers. They work all day, carrying your trays, cleaning your shit up, not to mention dealing with the unoccasional crappy tips they get only to turn in 20 percent of their earnings back to the company. So, being a smart aleck just shows that you are a plain old d******.
  
3. Ignorant people – They say that ignorance is bliss and maybe it is because I know, I cannot stand ignorant people whatsoever. Ignorant people fall into many different categories – sexist, racist, homophobic and plain stupid. Being a Muslim girl doesn’t make me uptight. Being Pakistani doesn’t make me a terrorist. Supporting gays doesn’t mean I am a lesbian myself. And being smart doesn’t mean I have to dumb myself down for guys. Some chicks don’t get that. Some dudes don’t get it either. Like for all the other pet peeves, I cannot say “oh, ignorant people, don’t be ignorant” because ignorant people don’t know that they are ignorant. They are so stuck inside their little comfort bubble, that they cannot push out nor escape. It is a little sad to see ignorant people, but the sympathy goes away when they open their mouths and start making derogatory comments about people you care about or love.
 
2. Not flushing the toilet – Okay, number ones is forgivable sometimes. Number twos – never! Even if the toilet is broken, go get a piece of paper and post a warning sign! I can say it literally now. No one wants to see your shit!!!!
  
1. Lying – The number one pet peeve of all. Everyone lies. I understand that. But lying when there is no good enough reason? That has to be the biggest pet peeve of all time. Don’t lie and say that you are in one place when you are in the other. Lying shows that that person was not worthy of the truth and it depraves them of their respect from you. So, next time you want to tell a stupid lie for the sake of a lie, think again.
 
Now, I am sure that I missed a whole bunch of pet peeves that were not listed on the list: cranky sick people, people who are always on the phone when you are hanging out with them, people who can’t dress, parents who cannot control their children, those who clip toenails in public, and the list goes on and on and on…..
 

So, the question I ask is, what are YOUR PET PEEVES????

fml.

Published

In 2010 on May 6, 2010 at 1:36 am

Here are the links to my first two articles published in the Mason newspaper, Broadside.

They are a very small first step, but nonetheless, still a step.

 

http://www.connect2mason.com/content/farhana-jamil-supermom-i-take-classes-and-scramble-do-homework

 

http://www.connect2mason.com/content/george-checks-our-nuts-annual-festival-smash-hit-students 

 

 

Testival

 

An Evaluation on a Personal Note

In 2010 on April 30, 2010 at 3:42 am

As the semester nears it end and I realize that I will be graduating next spring, I am overjoyed and yet, nervous. And though it might seem far away, I believe 2010 will fly by unnoticed. With baby births, weddings, birthdays, vacations and other milestones, this year will be a quick breeze. Next thing we know, Soha will graduating from high school, Nadia will be mothering kids, Nabeel will be married and I will be pursuing my own ambitions no longer as a teen.

 Being a Communications major, it does scare me that there might not be a job out there for me, however, it does not make me regret my decision. I have enjoyed each and every class I have taken so far in this field and it has truly shown me the ropes of what journalists and writers do. We report and we write. I have gotten the chance to meet some cool people, do some amazing things and learn about it at the same time. This leads me to evaluate my life after almost twenty years of living it.

Do I deem myself successful?

 The simple answer is yes.

I am born to an awesome set of parents who support me in many of the things I do and even if they don’t, they still are there for me if things go wrong. I have siblings who have taught me some of the most important lessons of my life and the most important being the one that says “Be tough and learn from other’s mistakes.” And that I have. I have learned that everyone makes mistakes. I have learned from them what NOT to do and that is sufficient enough for me. I have learned about family relations and what family really means. 

But along with that, I have learned that about another type of special relation. And that is friendship. I am glad to say that I have one of the bestest friends in the world. I have many good friends who have taught me what loyalty is. Friendship is not necessarily about the people who you talk to every single day or spend time with every single day.It is the person that you can call anytime of the day and you know they won’t mind. It is the person you can sit with in complete silence and be comfortable with it. It is the person who doesn’t question your every judgment because they trust you. It is the person you can expose your raw self too and they still find you flawless.  It is about understanding and knowing who will be there at the end with you when you need them. And luckily, I have realized that sooner than later. And for those who are still on the boat with me … are the most special ones. I love you kids.

And so, I end this on a personal note, thanking you people for making my life amazing.

I have done some crazy things in my life, but I don’t regret even one of them.

– Aisha

Crazy and Lovin' It.