Sep 10, 2012

Personal Statement

 By Sarah Fariduddin

A shrill laugh rang in my ears. I practically walked the halls of Thornfield by the side of Jane Eyre. I wondered as Jane wondered. The ripped veil struck me with as much horror as it struck Jane, and Mr. Rochester's clandestine marriage left not just one, but two girls devastated at the altar. It wasn't just Jane who accompanied me through childhood. In my early teenage years, the yellowing pages of Penguin classics, allowed me to breathe in a parallel world of Literature. The physical changes accompanying me to womanhood were followed by iron-clad rules imposed by my parents. Limiting interaction with childhood male friends, garbing my femininity with a dupatta and keeping my candid opinions to myself, were among
the many stipulations to keep my spotless reputation in check. As the chains of cultural restrictions grew tighter so did my clutch over a book. Very soon, the characters in these books became companions in whom I found strength, comfort and hope.

When I watched a beloved friend married off at the 'appropriate' age of 23, I wondered of Mrs. Bennett's wish to have Lizzy marry Mr. Collins. Is the bond of marriage merely a social obligation? Does love figure at all? Is life like a binding, black and white document or is it like a painting that we create with colours of our own choice?

Soon I questioned where I was headed. I questioned not being able to study in the Cambridge section of my school. I could no longer settle with the life of a rote-learning Matric student. Unlike solving derivations and complex equations, analyzing literary texts and penning down my thoughts gave me the joy of reflection and revelation. By walking out on Mr.Collins, Elizabeth Bennet encouraged me to live on my own terms.

Switching from the local board to the Cambridge system was my only way to fuelling this passion and studying subjects like  literature and history. I was only the second girl of our family to take this road. From a secure Convent School to remote, dingy tuition centres, from warm, familiar classmates to a sea of unknown faces, I was exposed to everything I had never known. Studying with males too sent disapproving looks my way. All the while the pages of my books were emanating the spirit behind their words. Countess Olenska's decision to lead the life of a scorned free divorcee strengthened me to face criticism. I eventually learned to confide in my decisions. Along the way, I also discovered my ability to act. The catharsis of slipping into another role on stage was not unlike losing myself in a book. Writing angry verses often, also releases pent up emotions. But on stage my angst and rebellion poured itself out in dark, powerful monologues

I now understand Jane's need to build an individual identity after stepping outside the cold confines of the Lowood orphanage. The past two years have brought me out of a shell too; a shell created by making the youngest child follow in the footsteps of the older siblings, by underestimating a girl's desire to learn for personal fulfillment, outside the classroom. Literature has helped me to break out of this shell.

University away from home would mean the continuation of the journey I embarked on two years ago. The tendency to immerse myself within the pages of a book provides me with constant food for thought. My deep enthusiasm for Austen or Bronte is not merely due to the angst I share with Elizabeth or Jane. It is out of a brimming desire that one day I too may help the women of my conservative society to break out of their shells.


Sana said...


Zoha said...

This is so beautiful.

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