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“Of a woman in war and peace and the source of her art”

Play: Selina Shelley

Direction: Mohammad Ali Haider

Jamuna Review in Daily Star ( Bangladesh) by Kate Raworth


Review by Amy Whetstone:



Jamuna is a woman who lived through the Liberation War of Bangladesh in 1971.

As a youth she had ventured to go to war as a freedom fighter.  Not long after, she was captured and taken to an enemy camp, dealing with several months of imprisonment and sexual abuse there. Being raped and the mother of a war-child, Jamuna had become withdrawn. Later she married a fellow freedom fighter who lost all his family members in the war, and had another child. Only Jamuna’s husband knows her secret.

While living her life in hiding like a snail in a shell she embraced a form of sculpting to express her feelings. She creates her pieces with dried logs, branches, boughs and other found objects, likening them to herself and restoring their worth through her care. Her devotion towards her works makes her unable to draw a fine line between her life and her creations. Eventually her art gets her some appreciation and brings her to the attention of others. She re-gains her self-confidence after 35 long years and wants to speak out to free herself from her dark secret which sits heavily between herself and her daughters.

Although she wants to speak out after years of silence, Jamuna is unsure of herself and of how her story will be accepted by her daughters. What way will it affect her again?

An exhibition of Jamuna’s work has been organised, and she prepares herself for an exclusive interview.

By this time her daughter brings a proposal of marriage from the boy she likes. The parents of the boy want to announce the wedding when they come to see the exhibition, as they will soon leave the country to visit and perform a prestigious religious ritual, the Hajj.

This situation puts Jamuna  in a great dilemma and she changes her mind. First she tries to postpone the exhibition and then her interview. But it is too late to deal it with her sponsor and organisers. Jamuna will have to face the journalist with the commitment of an exclusive interview. What she will do, how she will manage the situation?

Jamuna is one of the many women in Bangladesh who live their whole life keeping secret horrific experiences and trauma. They face exclusion from family and wider society. 1971 left many women in Bangladesh in such a state. Jamuna wants to be the one to emancipate both herself and women in general. She wants to break the taboo on women speaking out about their experience of sexual assault in war. Can she find the courage to liberate herself and all others in a similar place?

This play explores the effect of war on women, their sexuality and social life. Although the story focuses on Bangladesh in 1971, it delves into a matter faced by women all across the world even today.

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