Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Honoured to be Shortlisted for Channel S Awards 'Contribution to Community'

Channel S or S Channel Awards recognises Bangladeshis who are making a difference all over the world from Bangladesh, Canada to Europe and USA. I've written an essay, hoping to be shortlisted for the 'Contribution to the Community' Awards and thanks to the Channel S Awards Committee, I have been shortlisted. Winners will be announced LIVE on Thursday, 7 April, at 5:45 p.m. (UK Time) on Ch. 814. The following is my essay. It's an honour to be shortlisted; Thank You Channel S!

“A good word is like a good tree whose root is firmly fixed and whose top is in the sky” is a beautiful saying from the Holy Qur’an, which also represents the road I aspire to tread.

On 21st February, 2010, in celebration of ‘National Language Day,’ I held a book signing for my novel, Her Feet Chime, at the Whitechapel Idea Store. One man asked me if politics played a role in my novel. It was a difficult question to answer because my novel is based on the Cinderella fairytale, though it does take place in19th-century Bangladesh. I spoke about social/class differences, my story of a wealthy protagonist who suddenly becomes impoverished and can only dream of marrying into royalty.

Then, I said, ‘I’m not into Politics.’ Those words led to a lengthy, but interesting and rather amusing debate amongst the audience members. An elderly British patriot explained that getting involved in politics is extremely important. I expressed how true his statement was; after all, there is no nation without a ruling body. But we must not forget the power of the written word. One word, one phrase…can move a nation. Historically, one phrase among many moved the Bengali people-“Jai Bangla,” termed by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

Of course, I cannot compare myself to such a great leader; I can, however, express that my passion for writing infinitely thrives. Amazingly, after my novel was released, I received emails from young and adult aspiring writers who enjoyed reading it and who wanted guidance on their writing, which I gladly gave.

So, when Khalid Sharif, Editor of The Muslim Paper, approached me to work alongside him, I happily accepted the position of Deputy Editor. Through The Muslim Paper, I was able to reach British Muslims, including British Bengalis nationwide. Also, by specialising on ‘Baby Sharks,’ a section for contributors aged 14 and under, I stressed the importance of literacy. While volunteering as a teaching assistant at Madani Girls’ School, a British Bengali student, ecstatically jiggling a newspaper in front of me, yelled, “Miss, I saw you in The Muslim Paper.” It made me so happy to know that my words had touched someone, especially someone so young.

When Shah Yousuf, Editor of London Bangla Newspaper, offered me the women’s section, I happily wrote about issues that concerned Bengali women and interviewed female role models. During one of my voluntary tutoring sessions at the Canary Wharf Supplementary School, a male student of Bengali origin said, “I saw your writing in the London Bangla Newspaper.” Perhaps he did not read my section, but at least, he recognised my by-line and maybe, somehow, that had an impact on him.

Recognition of my writing as a contribution to the Bengali Community, would allow me to see that I am doing something right…that perhaps, I can help people either through my content, or through the simple fact that I write. For this very fact, I hope that you consider me for the Channel S ‘Contribution to the Community Award.’

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