Guest Post by: Geethi
The following is an excerpt from an essay written by Surayia’s great-grand daughter, Geethi.
Happy International Day of the Girl!
At the end of the alley, a tiny one-room house stands its own ground among smoke-spewing garment factories that tower over it. If you look out of any of its blackened windows, you don’t see the sky; only monstrous buildings with flickering lights and the hum of a million sewing machines running all day and night. From this house, Chiya Nanu created tapestries that changed the lives of hundreds of underprivileged women in Bangladesh. Her silk tapestries hang in museums and private collections around the world, and were even presented as state gifts.
The time I have spent with her has been precious and inspiring. As I remember the countless stories she has shared with me – such as the one about how her name “Surayia” turning to “Chiya” when my grandmother couldn’t pronounce it as a child, or part of her childhood spent in a seemingly utopian West Bengal village called Bankura – I feel more connected to Chiya Nanu’s tapestries and oil paintings hanging in our home. Today, not only do I know where I am headed, but more importantly, why.