madrasa girl

As we entered Korail during this weekend, we spotted a young girl with her father. She was about twelve years old, wearing a bright pink hijab. She seemed downcast and did not look at me. Her father was extremely reluctant to let us take a photograph. They grudgingly posed for us but refused to smile. Their behavior was a huge contrast to that of other enthusiastic fathers and daughters.

“What’s your name?” I asked her in Bangla.

“Jannat,” her father replied for her. Jannat means paradise.

Upon further questioning, I learned that she doesn’t attend school. She goes to a Madrassa, a religious learning center that doesn’t pay much attention to other subjects. When we were done with printing the polaroid, we handed it to them. They still didn’t smile. The father walked away. I asked Jannat about her favourite subject and she murmured “Arabic” and hurried away, eyes fixed on the ground.

I wonder what is going to happen to Jannat. Would she be scolded for talking to me? Would she ever attend college? What did her father want for her? She was almost my age, but our lives were so different. 

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