My City, My Home Sampad’s brand-new book features a collection of writings by women and girls in Birmingham (UK), Bangladesh and Pakistan.
The book was launched in November 2021 at a special event at Midlands Arts Centre hosted by writer and author Kavita Bhanot.
Published in English, Urdu and Bangla, My City, My Home is a ground-breaking publication featuring 184 poems, short-stories and other prose from writers, and those new to writing, reflecting on the identity and the role of women in 21st century society.
Piali Ray OBE, Director at Sampad said “It was greatly rewarding to receive 280 entries from the many unheard voices of women who shared their emotions, ambitions, joys, dreams, disappointments, resentment and pain. Their words resonate with each other towards a place of strength, identity and belonging. We connect in their personal journeys and treasured memories and it is a delight to be able to share them.”
Out of the 184 entries selected by judges, three overall winners were chosen for their particular writing skills and themes and are featured in the book each representing their own location:
• English language: Ilika Chakravarty Mandal, Birmingham, UK. Title ‘Yellow Sweater’
• Bangla Language: Shahana Yasmin, Dhaka, Bangladesh. Title ‘Ek kichhui korena meyer golpo’
• Urdu language: Nadia Umer, Lahore, Pakistan. Title ‘Shehar Kay Dil’
Commenting on her work Bangladesh overall winner Shahana Yasmin said: “In Dhaka, the city I live in, you can see mothers of school children waiting outside the school for 5 to 6 hours every day. This city does not have any public toilets for women. So, these mothers cannot go to the toilet for a long time and develop urinary diseases. Their husbands don’t find them attractive, so they develop relationships with other women. I wanted to write about the plight of these mothers. ‘ My City, My Home’ inspired me to write this.”
Ilika Chakravarty Mandal, Birmingham (UK) overall winner added: “Having moved across cities and continents through study, marriage, work and motherhood, I have often questioned myself: What is home? Where is home? ‘My City, My Home’ was a topic to which my persona instantly connected. So much so, that I picked up my pen after almost thirty years to use the dying art of letter writing in a personal note for my ageing mum, who now seemed even more geographically distanced in a post-COVID world. To see my story published and shared is simply fabulous and I am inspired to try writing more regularly.”
My City, My Home is also part of Sampad’s Sakshi (meaning “Witness” in Hindi) strand, which launched in 2018. Running until 2022, Sakshi will deliver a series of projects which focus on girls and women, to involve them in creative projects and to get their voices heard through the arts.
Photos by Dan Burwood
Main: Deborah Kermode (Chief Executive and Artistic Director, MAC Birmingham), Sophina Jagot (Project Director Transforming Narratives), Piali Ray OBE (Director, Sampad).
In body: Kavita Bhanot (Editor), Roma Saimbi (Sampad Board), Piali Ray OBE, Anne Cockitt (Sampad)