“Gopalda, cha banaben?” – on care for community

Papa making goat curry in community

REFLECTION It is my father through whom I learned care for community. He grew up in a village in what is now named Bangladesh. As a child he often elected to hang out with his sisters and mum to make the days meals. He thus came to embody generations of care practices passed down as womxnswork from this upbringing. Instrumental in creating a culture club for newly emigrated Bengalis when he first moved here, he continued this each time we moved so we would have a sense of self that had been othered by outside assimilatory pressures. At community gatherings, he is often asked to make the tea. “Gopalda, cha banaben?” This is a BIG deal in our community. He can make 50 cups of tea that tastes exactly as his lauded one cup. Growing up I would watch him row vats of goat curry at these events. I would giggle because he looked like a tiny man out to sea.

Early on I’d come to understand that our state actively breaks down community. They want us to be dependent. And building community is difficult when many of us don’t know what it is like to have one where we can be our full selves. How do we create a figment of community? Perhaps through imagination memory and trial and error. What are the means? My hunch is through art making.

What I didn’t understand till recently is that a critical part of community is building investment.

As darling as my papa is it was my mum who would hold the community accountable so they would not abuse his good nature. What does it mean to fight for care? Fight for resources absolutely devalued?

This workshop is being offered for free thanks to the support from The Democracy Center. I’d like us to ask ourselves how is our commitment to show up a form of investment?

Please note I’m working with my family to address our caste privileges as we benefit from brahmanical hegemony that is Hinduism. Hindu supremacy is anti adivasi is anti Dalit is anti indigenous is anti black

Culture can be survival, yes, but it’s more important to look at how it can be oppressive and culture break the toxins