Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Sharhana: A monologue by Debbie L. Miller

At an English language school, a young woman from Bangladesh, in her early 20s, speaks to her English as a Second Language teacher after the last class of the semester.

            Miss, may I talk to you, please? Do you have time?  Thank you.  I don’t know where to begin, Miss. But, I want to talk to you. Is that okay?

            It’s my husband, Miss. He doesn’t act good to me. I’m sorry to burden you with this. I just. . . . I hope you don’t mind.

            Yes, I suppose I do look upset. Oh, I look scared?  Yes, I am. I didn’t know it showed on my face.

            Do you have time? I don’t want to keep you from anything.  Oh, thank you, Miss.

            I live with my husband. I got married two years ago. He was living in Brooklyn and he went back to Bangladesh for our wedding. He’s a friend of my parents. So, that’s why they wanted me to marry him. He is older than me. I am 23 and he’s 51. It was an arranged marriage. That is the tradition in our country, Miss.

            I went to university in Bangladesh. I’m from Dhaka, do you know it, Miss? It’s the capital of Bangladesh. So, I have education. I am not uneducated. I learned English there, too, in primary school and secondary school and in university. My husband did not go to university. He came from a family that had very little education.

            So, I got married to him in Bangladesh two years ago and then I moved here to be with him. I wanted to get a job after I finished university, but my parents wanted me to get married. So, I did.  I decided that if I came to America, I could go to university here. I started to apply to schools, but my husband didn’t like it.

            He doesn’t work very much. He stays at home and watches tv and sometimes goes to the tea shop and drinks tea and gossips with other Deshi men.  I told him I wanted to get a job and he got very angry. He wants me to stay at home.

            But, I cannot stay at home. I want to meet people. I finally convinced him to let me come here to take English classes. I love coming to class. I meet other students, I get to talk to them, and you are a very good teacher, Miss. I am happy when I am in class. But, I’m afraid because now that this class is finished, maybe he won’t let me come to the class next semester.

            Are you sure you want to listen to this, Miss?  I don’t want to disturb you. . . .Oh, thank you Miss.  Thank you for listening to me.

            My husband sometimes hits me. This started after we got married, but it got worse when I came to New York with him. He thinks I have caused his problems because now he has a wife to take care of. 

            No, Miss, I haven’t told anybody else. Not my parents, no. You are the first person I have told this to.

            Oh, Miss, please don’t worry. You don’t have to do anything to help me. I shouldn’t have told you this [she is crying now] but, I don’t know what to do. I get very sad sometimes. And, in my country, when women get very sad, sometimes they. . . 

            I knew a couple of women my age who got married and when things got very bad with their husbands, they . . . they . . . 
they took their own lives. These were very nice, strong, intelligent women.

            I know you must be shocked, Miss. I am so sorry to tell you this and upset you.  In my country, many women do this. It’s like this in Bangladesh and even in India, too. In South Asia.

            Sometimes, they see no way out. They get so sad, and they cannot tell their families and if they try to tell their families, nobody believes them and then the abuse gets worse. So, they can’t find a solution and then they just. . .  give up hope and . . .

            I want to leave him, Miss. I do. But, I’m afraid to leave and I’m afraid to stay, because if I stay, he might hurt me very badly, or worse. . . . But, if I leave, my family will suffer great shame and people will say I’m a bad woman for leaving my husband. 
Although, many women will know why I left. They will understand.

            I have been looking for a job for several months. Because I know that if I am to be independent and not rely on him, I have to work. And, I want to work. I want to have my own business someday. And, I want to keep going to school. But, I’m so afraid.

            Everybody said my life in America would be so good and I still believe that it can be a good life. But, I. . .  cannot stay with this man. I can’t. If I don’t leave him, I don’t know what I will do. . .

            No, please, Miss, don’t worry about me. There is nothing you can do. I know you want to help me, but I will be okay. I just thank you for listening to me. It helped so much. Bless you, Miss.


About Debbie: I'm Debbie L. Miller, Freelance Writer and Journalist in Brooklyn, New York. I've written feature articles, newspaper articles, profiles, advertorials, and Web content. My skills include interviewing, research, fact-checking, and curriculum writing. I've written curriculum for English as a Second Language and Citizenship Exam Preparation classes and dialogues to use as teaching tools.
I've written for Corporate Secretary, Every Second Counts, Family Safety & Health, The Knoxville News-Sentinel, The Cleveland Plain Dealer, CATS Magazine, Safeworker, Safedriver, GEICO Direct, and UT Agriculture, among others.
I've written playwright profiles for The Newsletter of The International Centre for Women Playwrights. As a fiction writer, I've written plays, monologues, short stories, and flash fiction. I also write memoir and personal essays. 
Be sure to check out my writing samples and list of publications.
If you'd like to contact me, I'm at DebbieLMillerWriter@gmail.com

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