SOBAI JWNG SAMOJWNG SONGNW RWNGWN NA AGWI NWNG?

Authored by Zaoliya

Sobai jwng samojwng onla jwng daojwng

songnw rwngwn na agwi nwng

Nwngkhunjwa hole songnw khaonw gwrwng bikhunjw naigirbaiyw


Habab sona lekha fora rwngnaijwnglo jaya

Danw lunw bw maonw dangnw bw swlwngkha

Malaini hinjaoa mwdwmfru mwdwmlainai

Wngkhri songna fisainw jahwywbla

Nwng songnai dwilo dwilo wngkhrikhwo

Gwdwi jabaithanw


Sobai jwng samojwng onla jwng daojwng

songnw rwngwn na agwi nwng


Hinjaoni fisaya malaini kha

Radai khananwi bilai jananggwokha

Hwoani nokhorkhwo sibinanggwokha

Benwtho sona mwina hinjaoni meherkha


Bandwgwiywi gunai dokhona rubungkhwo

Gwkhrwng jayabla gubuna dusinw khabu mwnw

Sannanwi naidwna nwng gaokhwonw asar bisar

som barwbwla thalangwn jwngni songsar


Sobai jwng samojwng onla jwng daojwng

songnw rwngwn na agwi nwng

(The above lines are the lyrics of the song)


The song is problematic both in terms of its lyrics as well as in its choreographed sequential picturization or storyboard.


It demands women to embrace housework and relegates the inevitability of the private sphere to this particular social group. Women are usually ascribed to be confined to the private sphere totally removing them from participating in the remuneratively better public sphere; that a woman's place is in the home. According to the 1995 Human Development Report, countries lose billions in revenue as a result of women being restricted from participating in the public domain. The problem with housework is that it is unpaid work and two-thirds or more of their work time is spent on unpaid activities and only one-third is spent on paid activities (most women spend their work time only on unpaid activities such as housework, tending livestock, fetching firewood/food, etc.). Thus, the work that women do is undervalued or not valued at all. This is what the report has to say, "If women's unpaid work were properly valued, it is quite possible that women would emerge in most societies as the major breadwinners or at least equal breadwinners since they put in longer hours of work than men". In fact the song burdens women with double work because in the second stanza it demands of them to not only be educated and with a job but also expects them to perform housework so that the husband is served each and every day in order that he can 'gwdwi jabaithanw'. What the song misses is the idea of housework as shared work.


The song expects that if other communities recognize housework as exclusively women's work why should we not emulate them? The past half century or more of our struggle for nationhood has been to identify as different from the dominant cultural and linguistic community and therefore this call to Bodo women is unjust and is equal to administering different rules for different social groups within the community. When we have fought hard enough to differentiate ourselves from the mainstream identity, this call to emulate women of other communities in doing housework is laughable.


The second stanza of the song reduces women to objects to be owned either by the family she was born in or by her lawfully recognized family after marriage. To claim that a woman is ultimately, inevitably going to be in residence with the in-laws family cuts off her ties with her parents and reduces her as some commodity only to be traded at a certain marriageable age. It also recognizes the inevitability of the married woman to serve her in-laws all of which trivializes her agency and reduces her body as another labour that is traded from one family to another. It is even more problematic to call it 'hinjaoni meherkha'. In doing so, no alternative is provided and therefore fixes her in box with no way out only to coax her to believe that it is afterall her destiny and that she must accept it as her fate. While I am not against the institution of marriage, I want to point out that instead of either patrilocal/virilocal or matrilocal/uxorilocal residences, can neolocal residences not be opted?


What it suggests by 'bandwgwywi gunai dokhona' is even horrendous to talk about. I am guessing it is being meant that if a woman does not wed, she is immoral. This preachy song already is judgemental about a woman's sexuality because she has not married yet. It, in it's most uninhibited manner, labels a woman sexually dishonest just because she is unmarried, and suggests that unmarried women are looking to indulge in sexual escapades and therefore they delay wedding. Further, it seeks to threaten her that if she does not wed early, society is going to point not one but many fingers at her. At the crux of this issue is the idea of women's virginity where having multiple sexual partners is used as a stigma against her and is only a way to control her overall freedom and if she does not relent to his wishes nullification of her community association is on the cards besides other penalties. Why? What is the problem with sexual promiscuity?


Lastly, the choreographed sequences is even more disastrous and distasteful. While the first stanza is being sang in the background, the male protagonist stops the woman protagonist from walking further. The lines here are, 'Habab sona lekha fora rwngnaijwnglo jaya...Danw lunw bw maonw dangnw bw swlwngkha'. In simple interpretation, it only seems the male actor is stopping her from making her life fruitful with remunerative jobs by insisting that she weds him rather than receiving education. Why should they stop? Education and economic opportunity are salvation to the marginalized social groups (of course these does not materialize into salvation by default). In the last sequence, she cooks 'sobai jwng samo' and serves the dish to our male protagonist while the stanza questioning her morality is played. His immediate reaction is that of disgust on taking the first taste of the food. The video further tries to make a point that even when an educated woman cannot cook, it is the male who is doing her a favour by consuming the unpalatable samo dish prepared by her and also perhaps, of accepting her even if she has had multiple sexual adventures. This concept glorifies and reinforces gender segregated norms and taboos largely biased towards women and justifies male privileges in the society.


These were the concerns that surfaced in my mind while I watched the video song "Sobai jwng samojwng". Considering the fact that most of the crew members in this particular project are young, it would have been a progressive development in the right direction if they had rejected and not promoted regressive community norms and standards.


*. The author can be reached at zaoliyagwsw@gmail.com.

You can watch the video here

SOBAI JWNG SAMO ( Official Music Video ) RB Film Production Ft. Bibek & Srija - YouTube