• Under the Raintree Festival

'Renouncing Questionable Criticism' by Fawzia Adiba

Life is not supposed to be a ride of rainbows and sunshine. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t question certain things. The things we are told to accept and move on. The things that won’t not reform until we force it to. These questionable criticisms of adjustment, acceptance and compromise at every crucial age passed onto us by elders defining partiality as tradition, and clothes as culture must change its way. We must not be what society wants us to be. Rather the society must forge into being however we want it to be.

Yesterday I stepped into the office taking a glance at the red poster by the stairs which said, “Creative minds are the engineers of the future and beyond.” I had to quickly force my mind to readjust with the environment around me, where people greeted each other with fake smiles while some girls in the corner slyly took a look at my clothes and judged my existence. I never had thought about a world where I could just simply exist without being judged for my looks or clothes. But last week I wasn’t chosen to do a presentation before our clients, in spite of being the one who did entire work and research about it. When I asked my supervisor about it she replied, “You should feel fortunate enough that the boss chose your project among all the others ones.” Then casting an obnoxious pointed look she further said, “Anyway you shouldn’t expect him to let you do the presentation when you dress like that.” That day I questioned my worth and I felt that I failed my grandma.

My friend always told me that I should not be involved in something that doesn’t go with my personality. I brushed it off recalling the nights when I used to make a mug of lemon tea for her, to sober up from a stupid party. If she can call herself a teacher now then I believe I can continue my job, without a flicker of doubt in my mind. 

It took me a long time to choose my career, as I couldn’t fix my mind on something particular. And when I did, almost no one believed in my family except my grandma. Everybody had their reasons to have their doubt directed at me. I think from that day I saw my grandma being the happiest she has ever been. I would be lying if I said, that her happiness didn’t give me the relief and reassurance that I needed the most at that time.  So, with that support and adamance I set out to go on a pink muddy path wearing a white gown. I got recognition for my work after months of rejection, discouragement and mocking.   

No, I wasn’t a village girl who couldn’t adjust to modern lifestyle.

No, I wasn’t a writer writing poems about heartbreak from 6th grade.

No, I wasn’t an imbecile girl doing stupid business.

Actually, I was a tomboy stepping into the fashion industry. 

My family used to try to make me blend with my environment because I was homeschooled for 6 years and never had the same taste in music and movies as others of my age. From early childhood, I followed my brother blindly in taking decisions for both of us in food, music, vacation, colors of walls and clothes. My mother used to buy clothes for both of us from the same shop. My father didn’t ever had to put much efforts for our birthday presents, as we both needed the same thing every year. During all this, only my grandmother was always worried for me watching me walking on the wrong lane. Now after spending 25 years as tomboy, I realize that I should had listened to my grandma back then, or at least should have mustered enough confidence to speak up when my opinions weren’t valued in projects. I am in the fashion industry for the last 5 years, and at every step I had to struggle to earn a name for myself with other evident superior and finer designs. I had to push my way through unrequested grace and nice body posture, to have a good platform to showcase my creativity.

After years of facing rejection, insult and inferiority, I have decided to renounce all these questionable criticisms from my life. I have decided to set my mind to have a motto of removal of these criticisms, to have a life where minds are valued more than bodies and clothes. To create a world where girls stereotypically don’t have to learn grace and fashion for survival, rather a place where genders would be a neutral playground at work. 

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