Farzana Banu Shirin (Syedpur, Bangladesh)
Who I am
Farzana is from Syedpur, a railway town in north-west Bangladesh. She represents the new generation of Syedpuris – second- and third-generation young people who are more fluent in Bengali than in Urdu.
Farzana is the middle daughter of the writer and poet Fahmi. Her ancestors are from Bihar. She was born in Syedpur in 1980 and studied in Khulna in south-west Bangladesh between the ages of 7 and 14. In her school there were many other children of immigrants who were bilingual in Urdu and Bengali, but they didn't feel that that could speak Urdu or be seen to be different from the Bengali girls.
We never spoke in Urdu, even by mistake; we were scared of being found out. Here in Syedpur we get school holidays for our Bihari festivals such as Muharram and Kunda, not so in Khulna. I pretended I was Bengali.