September 18th, 2017

politics

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earthsea

Sultana's Dream, by Begum Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain

Sultana's Dream, by Begum Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain

Second paragraph:
All on a sudden a lady stood before me; how she came in, I do not know. I took her for my friend, Sister Sara. সহসা আমার পার্শ্বে একটি ইউরোপীয় রমণীকে দণ্ডায়মানা দেখিয়া বিস্মিত হইলাম। তিনি কী প্রকারে আসিলেন, বুঝিতে পারিলাম না। তাঁহাকে আমার পরিচিতা ‘ভগিনী সারা’।
I spotted this as an interesting feminist story from India in 1905 - in fact, it was originally published in English, in the Indian Ladies' Magazine, but I've put the standard Bengali translation next to it because I am intrigued that the English "lady" is translated into "ইউরোপীয় রমণীকে", "i'urōpīẏa ramaṇīkē," "European woman". I wonder if that is how the author intended it to be understood? (Of course she was probably more comfortable in Urdu than Bengali.)

It's a very short story in which Sultana finds herself in a world where men suffer the same discrimination that women suffer in our world, and as a result things run much better. Solar-powered technology has enabled Ladyland to repel male invaders and establish a new way of life, with decent showers and flying cars. Then, alas, Sultana wakes up; for it was all a dream. Begum Rokeya was a leading Islamic feminist writer, and the story is basically a thought-provoking vignette, with some shafts of wit - the fact that men's brains are bigger does not show that they are superior, because elephants have bigger brains than men. Great fun, but very short.

Full text here.