Abandoning shade, becoming sun: shedding taboos on path to truth

sun

And if sun comes
How shall we greet him?
Shall we not dread him,
Shall we not fear him
After so lengthy a
Session with shade?

This is the opening stanza of a poem by Gwendolyn Brooks, and in my mind it paves the way for the discussion of releasing taboos and breaking stereotypes. The “sun” is the “Truth,” which is also the title of the poem and it opposes the untruth, the lies, and the unawareness.  Continue reading »

The tale of rainbow stairs

 


Video by Diren Merdiven)

About two weeks ago, a man painted a set of stairs in beautiful rainbow colors. No one in the neighborhood had liked the grey-colored stars so they enthusiastically embraced the change. Even the newlyweds came to have their photos taken on the colorful stairs. The stairs not only brought joy and smiles, but also symbolized the diversity of the nation. Continue reading »

Brooding on possibilities: How coming to the US has changed my life for ever

Karo brooding

So one of the wonderful fellow bloggers from the amazing Fabulous and Fearless community mentioned their anniversary on Sept. 12th. And it just occurred to me that this was my anniversary as well: 19 years ago (almost 2 decades!) I came to the US to study. And my world was changed for ever, even though I did not realize this at the time. 🙂 Continue reading »

Visiting the grey space of taboos

shades of gray :)

Imagine you’re 10 years old and you’ve just got your first slippers from a social worker. Not because your family could not afford them, not because you cannot walk, but because you are blind.

My first reaction when I heard the story many years ago was, “wait, did I hear this right? What does blindness have to do with walking?” Yes, it turns out I did not mishear anything. It turns out that in many countries in the world, especially in villages, people who’re blind are hidden from the society’s view. They stay home, often tacked in bed, with no educational opportunities, with no outlet for social development.

The reasons for this state of affairs are complex. Partially, the parents of blind children are afraid for their safety. But partially, they’re afraid of being stigmatized by the community they live in.

When I was taking classes for my PhD, I wanted to describe this situation and started looking for English-language articles in so-called scientific literature. Can you image my disappointment and sadness when I did not find a single article on the topic? Because the studies would usually look at rehabilitation programs for people with disabilities, which means that the people or “subjects” of the study were already out and about in their community. Or the studies would focus on blind/low vision children who received a mainstream education. Again, these kids have already moved on on their path of growth.

What really bothers me is that there are topics that are super important, that affect people’s lives, and yet, they’re not widely discussed. They’re neither examined by academic institutions, nor are they the topics that the media clammer to pick up. They’re there, in the grey space between existence and non-acknowledgment. So I’m hoping to spread the word. Just because an issue is not talked about does not diminish or erase its existence, right? So let’s talk! 🙂

Hubby and I were recently interviewed by EyesonSuccess about our experiences of teaching in Southeast Asia and India. Please listen to the podcast if you’d like to find out hear our impressions and adventures:

 

Rekindling embers to fight taboos

 

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There are images and metaphors that have inhabited my mind long after I finish reading a book. Such is the case with Sandor Marai’s “Embers.” Throughout his beautifully written, lyrical novel, he conjures the image of memories that have not been talked about for many years and thus have gathered dust and overgrown the living space like a fungus. Here is a sample:  Continue reading »

The life of secrets and how they are dug up in Oksana Zabuzhko’s novel, Museum of Abandoned Secrets

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In her brilliant novel “Museum of Abandoned Secrets,” Oksana Zabuzhko describes a game that girls play: they wrap things that they deem precious (like stones, colorful candy wrappers, etc), dig a whole in the ground, and bury their treasures. The place and content of the buried treasures is a secret shared only between the girls who dug up the hole.

Continue reading »

"Silence is not nothingness"–it’s a place where taboos temporarily dwell

a stack of my novels, "Breaking the silence: A story in paintings"

Silence is not nothingness. Silence is the safe haven where feelings and ideas that cannot be spoken are sheltered. Unspoken, they are expressed in paintings, in gestures, in facial expressions.

This is the quote from Breaking the Silence: A Story in Paintings, my novel about gay relationships and art censorship in the post war, communist Poland. I felt the quote was necessary in the preface to acknowledge the centuries-old process of hiding and unearthing taboos, and of the omnipresence of taboos even in the depth of silence. Continue reading »

In Pursuit of Her Dreams: A Woman’s Bargain with Fate

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Women’s Ways of Knowing
by Mary Field Belenky at al

In grad school, I had to read a book called Women’s Ways of KnowingCrazy and too feminist, I thought before I picked it up. Once I began reading, I fell in love with it. The authors explored various ways in which, due to cultural and social expectations, women gain their knowledge and understanding of the world. The book turned out to be very empowering, since the authors showed how over time, women consciously chose the way they perceived and responded to the world. For instance, they could have began their journey with so-called received knowledge (they learned the information they were given without questioning it), but then could, because of a transformative experience, question authority and assert more of their own knowledge. They would become more self-reliant and independent. Continue reading »