Chat with us, powered by LiveChat Please try to incorporate all of the readings, using direct quotes. The criteria is in the RS politics of difference file. Here are some points that can be made from the Tahm - Writingforyou

Please try to incorporate all of the readings, using direct quotes. The criteria is in the RS politics of difference file.  Here are some points that can be made from the Tahm

Please try to incorporate all of the readings, using direct quotes. The criteria is in the RS politics of difference file. 

Here are some points that can be made from the Tahmima Anam reading:

Quote: “‘They were restoring order,’ Silvi said, tugging the knot under her chin. ‘Making things safe’” (Anam 2007, 248). This is Silvi’s response to Maya accusing her of not believing in soon to be independent country of Bangladesh. This conversation takes place right before Bangladesh declares independence in December of 1971. At this point, Pakistani army cannot regain control and they occupy Dhaka out of anger, fear, and inability to keep both wings of the Pakistan united. As Maya once claimed, it would be a show of force (Anam 2007, 252). However, what underlines this quote is Silvi’s altered attitude that separating wings would be against their religion (Anam 2007, 248). To put it bluntly, it is a sin. In accordance with her understanding of what means to be Muslim, Silvi sees God as vengeful and the obligation to atone to God (Anam 2007, 161). Her new perception of religion is obvious even earlier in the book when she gives back all the letters Sohail wrote her (Anam 2007, 162). This is the evidence how Quran (word of God) is interpreted by human beings in accordance with social, cultural, and political happenings. Silvi’s interpretation of the Islam core text matched the notion Pakistani Army was enforcing and it is shown how the language of religion, and not the religion itself, is used to construct nationalism. In this instance, Silvi could be portrayed as the traitor of Bangladesh because she resists its independence, but her sense of national belonging is influenced by the new oppressive (mis)conception of Islam where she needs to unmistakably showcase her repentance.

Quote: “The war will be over soon. It’ll be like it was before. You can stay at Shona – we’ll be neighbors again” (Anam 2007, 237). These are the words Rehana chooses to relieve the sadness of Mrs. Sengupta. Supriya Sengupta came to the refugee camp where Maya and Rehana were helping the refugees. Supriya left her son, Mithuin, in the pond and Mr. Sengupta was shot. There are two important points to recognize. First, the overall attitude of war ending soon was reinforced with the Indo-Soviet treaty signed in 1971. In that sense, not only that Bangladesh had India as an ally, but The USSR as well. That meant two things: East Pakistanis would have their own state and Hindus would no longer be in danger. Second, Rehana puts aside the initial condemnation of Mrs. Sengupta. Leaving her son in the pond was excusable for the circumstances that she was in. But it was not justifiable. However, Rehana realizes that it is not on her to understand how Supriya could have done such a thing. It’s between Mrs. Sengupta and her maker (Anam 2007, 233). Once again, the author depicts one’s understanding of religion and their relationship to the God. Rehana prays to God that is God of comfort and consolation (Anam 2007, 162). According to Quran, killing one is equivalent to killing the whole of mankind (Qur’an 5:32, translated by Majid Fakhry). Even though Supriya didn’t kill her son with her own hands, she had left him and was responsible for what had happened to him. Rehana was aware of the responsibility Mrs. Sengupta failed to meet and the burden Supriya would carry for the rest of her life, but it is no matter of hers to reprehend that. 

Something similar can be used, as well as from other sources attached. 

Please use either hirst and zavos or Zamindar at least once. 

REL 221

Religion in Society: South Asia

Essay 1

In the film, Stories My Country Told Me, Eqbal Ahmad describes nationalism as a “politics of difference” and argues that “there is no end to politics of difference” (2003). Over the past few weeks we have seen how the struggle to define national identity has affected postcolonial South Asia. Drawing extensively on Tahmima Anam’s book A Golden Age and on the book chapter by Willem van Schendel, discuss how this politics of difference affected people and religious communities in postcolonial South Asia.

A good paper will use detailed examples from the readings (especially Anam’s book) to show how nationalist politics affected individuals and religious communities in South Asia. Make sure you (1) discuss shared religious worlds in some depth, and (2) show how these were affected by nationalist constructions of identity and religion.

Each essay must be 4-5 pages long. All papers must be typed in 12 point Times Roman font. Papers must be double spaced with 1 inch margins on all sides (word default is acceptable). Papers must be proof-read, spell checked, and properly referenced using the Chicago Manual of Style, In-Text citation format.

Please refer to the handout on citation provided to you to make sure that your paper is properly referenced and that you have not plagiarized. Plagiarism and use of AI will result in a failing grade as well as appropriate administrative action.

This paper tests your understanding of ideas and concepts introduced in the class as well as your ability to communicate this understanding to others. Clarity of written expression is essential here. Please make sure you refer to the handout on Writing Good Papers before you write this paper. I encourage you to take your papers to the Writing Center ahead of the due date for the essay.

Grading criteria is available in your syllabus as well as on the D2L site for this class. You must be able to effectively integrate one external scholarly source (apart from van Schendel and Anam) into your analysis in this paper in order get a grade of a ‘B’. This external source should be one of the other articles we have read over the course of the term (Hirst and Zavos or Zamindar).


D ear Husband,

I lost our children today.


Outside the courthouse Rehana bought two kites, one red and one blue, from Khan Brothers Variety Store and Confectioners. The man behind the counter wrapped them up in brown paper and jute ribbon. Rehana tucked the packets under her arm and hailed a rickshaw. As she was climbing in, she saw the lawyer running towards her.

‘Mrs Haque, I am very sorry.’ He sounded sincere.

Rehana couldn’t bring herself to say it was all right.

‘You must find some money. That is the only way. Find some money, and then we will try again. These bastards don’t move without a little grease.’

Money. Rehana stepped into the rickshaw and lifted the hood over her head. ‘Dhanmondi,’ she said, her voice in a thin quiver. ‘Road Number 5.’

When she got home, the children were sitting together on the sofa with their knees lined up. Maya’s feet hovered above the floor. Sohail was looking down at his palms and counting the very small lines. He saw Rehana and smiled but did not rise from his chair, or call out, as Maya did, ‘Ammoo! Why were you so long?’

Rehana had decided it would not be wise to cry in front of the children, so she had done her crying in the rickshaw, in sobs that caused her to hold on to the narrow frame of the seat and open her mouth in a loud, wailing O. The rickshaw-puller had turned around and asked, as if he was genuinely concerned, whether she would like to stop for a glass of water. Rehana had never tasted roadside water. She refused him mutely, wondering if he had children, a thought that made her lean her head against the side of the rickshaw hood and knock repeatedly in time to the bumps on the road. Now, confronted with the sight of them, she fought the pinch in her jaw and the acrid taste that flooded her mouth. She fought the fierce stinging of her eyes, the closing of her throat. She fought all of these as she handed them the wrapped-up, triangular packets.

‘Thank you, Ammoo jaan,’ Maya said, ripping into hers. Sohail did not open his. He rested it on his lap and stroked the brown paper.

‘You are going to live with Faiz Chacha,’ Rehana said evenly. ‘In Lahore.’

‘Lahore!’ Maya said.

‘I’m so sorry,’ Rehana said to her son.

‘When will we come back?’

‘Soon, I promise.’ Pray to God, she wanted to say. ‘They are coming for you on Thursday.’

‘I don’t want to.’

Rehana bit down on her tongue. ‘You have to go,’ she said. ‘Go and be brave. You can fly your kite, beta, and I will see it, all the way from Lahore. It’s a special kite. You have to be very good. Very good and very brave. Only the bravest children get windy days. And one day it will be so windy you will fly all the way back to me. You don’t believe me? Wait and see.’


Dear Husband,

Our children are no longer our children.


How would she begin to tell him?

She got back into the rickshaw with the children. ‘Azimpur Koborstan,’ she said.

The graveyard was dotted with dusk mourners. They tossed flowers on the wet pelts of grass that grew over their loved ones. In the next row a man with a white cap cried into his hands. Beside him, an old woman clutched a spray of bokul.

Rehana held the round palms of her children.

‘Say goodbye to your father,’ she said, pointing to Iqbal’s grave.

Sohail raised his fingers to his face. ‘La-ill’ahah Ill’allah.’

‘Maya, you too.’


My children are no longer my children.


The judge said Rehana had not properly coped with the death of her husband. She was too young to take care of the children on her own. She had not taught them the proper lessons about Jannat and the afterlife.

Maya chased a butterfly into the next row. Rehana seized her elbow. ‘Say goodbye to your father.’

‘Goodbye, Abboo,’ Maya said, her eyes liquid, moving with the butterfly.


‘Mrs Haque,’ the judge had asked, ‘what would your husband want?’

He would want them to be safe, she had said. Yes, he would want them to be safe.

Faiz had said, ‘It’s not safe here, milord. Martial law, strikes, people on the streets–not safe. That is why my wife and I want to take the children to Lahore.’

Lahore, the garden city with new roads and perfect buildings. It was a thousand miles away on the other side of India. Faiz was her husband’s elder brother. He was a barrister, and very rich. His wife was tall, pouty-lipped and barren. She looked hungrily at the children.

Faiz had never liked Rehana. It had something to do with Iqbal’s devotion to her. Leaving her slippers outside the bathroom door when she went to bathe. Pressing her feet with olive oil. Speaking only in gentle tones. Everyone noticed; Faiz would say, Brother, you are spoiling your wife, and Mrs Chowdhury, who lived opposite their house in Dhanmondi, would sigh and declare, Your husband is a saint.

Faiz told the judge about Cleopatra. Rehana had taken the children to see Cleopatra. Was Cleopatra a suitable film for young children? She saw the judge picturing Elizabeth Taylor’s breasts. And then Faiz told the story about the coin. That eight years ago Iqbal had been presented with a proposal of marriage to one Rehana Ali of Calcutta, a young woman from an aristocratic family whose father had lost an immense fortune to bad counsel and even worse luck. Iqbal was already thirty-six; he had a successful insurance business–why not marry? Why not indeed. He had tossed a coin, glanced quickly at the result and gone to sleep. The next morning he sent a message to say he agreed.

Rehana had never believed this story, because Iqbal was not the type to gamble. He was an insurance man; he dealt in security. The avoidance of accident. The sidestepping of consequence. Perhaps he had been different before he married. Perhaps that was why Faiz was upset. His brother was no longer his brother.

She should have burned some chillies and circled them over his head. Or slaughtered a goat, at the very least. But she hadn’t done either, and so he had died, sinking to his knees in front of the house one January day, his walking stick rolling into the gutter, his hand over his waistcoat searching for the pocket watch, as though he wanted to record the hour of his leaving her. ‘Maf kar do,’ he whispered to her. Forgive me.

And there she was, a widow, nothing to recommend her, no family near by. Her parents were dead; her three sisters lived in Karachi. That was when Faiz and Parveen had offered to take the children. Rehana could see them during the holidays. ‘Just for a few years,’ Parveen said, ‘Give you time to recover.’ As though it were an illness, something curable, like what was happening to the country.

When Rehana refused, Faiz and Parveen had taken the matter to court.

‘Milord,’ Faiz said to the judge, ‘Mrs Haque is distressed; she needs her rest. We are thinking only of the children.’

She had married a man she had not expected to love; loved a man she had not expected to lose; lived a life of moderation, a life of few surprises. She had asked her father to find her a husband with little ambition. Someone whose fortunes had nowhere to go.


It was getting dark; the gravestone shadows lapped at their feet.

‘Ammoo, I’m hungry,’ Maya said.

Rehana had thought to bring a packet of glucose biscuits. ‘Here,’ she said, peeling away the pink wrapper.

Sohail stood statue-still and stared into his father’s grave. ‘Let’s go home,’ he said.

‘Just a few minutes.’ She hadn’t finished explaining it to Iqbal. ‘Why don’t you see if you can get those kites up?’

The children drifted to an empty field at the edge of the graveyard, unwinding the spools of thread attached to their kites.

Rehana began again.


Dear Husband,

I have given up the only thing you left me. When the judge asked me if I knew for certain whether I would be able to care for them, I could not bring myself to say yes. I was mute, and in my silence he saw my hesitation. That is why he gave them away. It was me; my fault. No other’s. I don’t blame your brother for wanting them. Who would not want them? They are the spitting image of you.


After the verdict, in that hot room with the dust-furred ceiling fans, the black shine of velvet benches, the tattered grey wig of the judge, she had fallen to her knees. She had not been able to convince anyone that even though she was poor, and friendless in this town and the only thing left to her was a wild, untamed plot of land so recently reclaimed from the paddy she had to burn the insects that marched on to her small bungalow porch every morning when she woke to pray, she could still be a mother to her children. She had not explained to the children where exactly their father had gone, and she had let them stay home from school, and she had taken them to watch Cleopatra, but she could still be their mother; she would find a way to overcome her grief, her poverty, her youth; she would find a way to love them all alone. But no one had believed her, and in a few weeks they would travel across the continent, and she didn’t know when she would ever see them again.


Faiz and Parveen took the children to Lahore a few days later on Pakistan International Airlines Flight 010. Rehana watched them leave from an airport window made foggy by hair oil and goodbye fingerprints. She waved a small wave, wondering when the world would stop ending. Maya and Sohail, their kites tucked under their arms, fastened their seatbelts and sailed gracefully into the sky, crossing the flooded delta below.

The next day Parveen called to say they had arrived safely, but Rehana could hear very little aside from the crackle of the long-distance line, and the cultivated, genteel laugh that conveyed both confidence and an awkward regret.


In the days that followed, people came to see her: Iqbal’s business acquaintances; old men claiming to be friends of her father; distant relatives with wagging, so-sorry tongues; her gin-rummy friends from the Dhaka Gymkhana Club; even the lawyer. Grief tourists, Rehana thought, and pretended not to hear them scratching at the door.

All but Mrs Chowdhury, who came dragging a sad, tearful daughter. She held Rehana in the rolling fat of her arms and scolded her daughter for sulking.

‘Silvi, it’s not the end of the world. They’ll be back.’ And then she turned to Rehana. ‘At least you had a few good years. My bastard husband left me when I couldn’t give him a son. Took one look at this one, and I never saw him again.’

Rehana sat immobile, staring into the garden. Mrs Chowdhury finally said, ‘We should let the poor girl rest.’

Silvi idled behind the kitchen door. ‘Nine years old!’ Mrs Chowdhury cried out. ‘Too old to sulk, too young to be heart-broken. What, you think no boy will ever ask to marry you again?’

‘Let her stay,’ Rehana said; ‘we can eat together.’ She tried to imagine what she might feed the child. She hadn’t been shopping. There was just a weak, watery dal and some bitter gourd.

‘You said we would see Roman Holiday.’

‘Next time, Silvi, OK?’

‘If they ever come back. OK.’

She left. Rehana didn’t see her to the door.


Rehana watched the days go by. She began letters to Sohail and Maya:

The mangoes will be perfect this year. It has been hot and raining at all the right times. I can already smell the tree.

She threw that one away. She also threw away the one that began:

My dearest children, how I miss you.

She wrote cheerful, newsy letters. The children should not be confused. They should know these important facts:

She was going to get them back soon.

The world was still a generally friendly place.

Silvi had not forgotten them.

The neighbourhood was exactly as it had always been.

Her memories of the children were scrambled and vague. The more she clutched at them, the more distant they became. She tried to stick to facts: Maya’s favourite colour is blue, Sohail’s is red. Sohail has a small scar on his chin, just below the ridge. She had teased him and said, ‘This is a scar only your wife will see, because she will stand just beneath you and look up,’ and he had said, very seriously, ‘What if she is a very tall girl?’

Her son had a sense of humour. No, he was completely unfunny. He barely ever smiled. Which was it?

She took comfort in telling them apart. She remembered which was the loud, demanding child, which the quiet, watchful one. The one who sang to birds to see if they would sing back. The one whose fingernails she had to check, because she liked the taste of mud. The one who caught chills, whether the day was cold or fiercely hot. The one who sucked red juice from the tiny flowers of the ixora bush. The one who spoke; the one who wouldn’t; the one who loved Clark Gable; the one who loved Dilip Kumar, and stray dogs, and crows that landed on the gate with sharp, clicking talons, and milk-rice, and Baby ice-cream.

And she couldn’t get off her mind all the times Iqbal had fretted over them, making them wear sweaters when it wasn’t even cold, having the doctor visit every month to put his ear to their little chests, holding hands on busy roads and empty roads– just in case, just in case, just in case. And then there was that train journey that they almost didn’t take.

It was Maya’s fourth birthday, and Iqbal’s new Vauxhall had just arrived from England. It was on a special consignment of fifty cars brought to Dhaka from the Vauxhall factory in Wandsworth, London, in 1957. Iqbal had seen an advertisement that told him about the smart new car with the restyled radiator and the winding handles. There was a photograph. He fell in love with the car: the smooth curves, the side-view mirrors that jutted out of the frame. He imagined driving it into their garage, a big ribbon tied around the top, the horn blaring. But when it arrived, he was too nervous to drive the car and decided to leave it in the hands of a driver he hired for the purpose, an ex-employee of the British Consul-General who had driven His Excellency’s Rolls-Royce and was an expert behind the wheel. His name was Kamal. It was Kamal who was driving the Vauxhall the day Maya waved to her father from the window of the Tejgaon–Phulbaria rail carriage.

As a special birthday treat for Maya, they had decided to take a train ride between a new station on the fringes of the city and Phulbaria Central; tracks had just been opened, and it was now a short trip from the brightly painted station built by a hopeful government to the crumbling colonial building that housed the old carriages of the Raj. It was to be their very first train ride.

On the appointed day Rehana made kabab rolls and Iqbal counted clouds, hoping to declare an incoming storm and cancel the whole affair. But there was only a cool October breeze and a scattering of lacy, translucent threads in the sky. Kamal started the car and opened the doors for them. Iqbal instructed everyone to sit in the back. Maya entered first, in her birthday dress, which Rehana had sewn of pale blue satin. There was a netted petticoat, which made the dress puff out at an unlikely angle. Blue ribbons were fastened to her hair, and she had managed to convince Rehana to dab her mouth with the lightest frost of pink lipstick; this she attempted to safeguard by keeping her lips held in a stiff pout. Rehana settled into the car, balancing the food on her lap, and motioned