Dhaka Drawings pt 2: Day 32Posted: December 5, 2014
I thought to write some thoughts with these drawings. The first two drawings are of Shanta, she lives in Kamalapur station. She sat almost still for the duration of the drawing. At the end, after having shown her the drawing, she started speaking about her husband and child. Although that story is not for this blog, I was deeply touched, almost cried at the harsh times she has gone through. Afterwards, my friend and I talked about how we deal with ‘field work’, and how we cope with such stories, which seem so far removed from our own realities.
It strikes me how difficult it is to cope and how blessed I am to have the structure of support I have. The most important is knowing when I need support and not being afraid to ask for it. It is something new to me still. As Shanta tells her story, she cries, it is only natural. I see her resilience though straight away, when another mother’s child needs to be taken to the clinic, she resolutely charges towards the rickshaw, tells the father to get off and she comes with us, as guardian and friend. What leaves me blank, terrified and sad all at the same time, is the profound helplessness I felt, despite my education, knowledge and training, despite my networks of contacts and ‘international’ friends, I am really ill-equipped to help someone like Shanta. One of many. Yet, I can’t help now but wonder about Shanta and her story. It saddens me to think such a wonderful human being has been dealt a card that screams injustice. I don’t particularly know what else to do here. Someone, who in the space of 30 minutes opens up her life’s pain. Where do I take that?
I wonder also, quite abstractly – what impact the above narrative has on the viewers perception of the drawings – what do they make of the portrait of Shanta? Where does she draw her strength from? Would you have any ideas about the pain she went through? What the inner world of hers contains? And I wonder, then what role drawing plays for me. Having drawn first and spoke to Shanta afterwards, it forces me to think. I was not expecting anything other than to draw portraits of homeless women for my friend as gifts to the women. And here I am writing about a woman, whose story angers me at the way men treat women, with the society has been created to allow people to end up on the streets, and the way systems have developed that allow such things to continue. I still haven’t told her story, I don’t have permission to tell her story and nor do I feel it right to blog about such personal pain.