I read in and around my kitchen habitually. And, took the privilege for granted. Until, I came across an essay in The Bangladesh Reader (Duke, 2013) about Rashundari Debi, a housewife who taught herself to read and even more miraculously who published “My Life,” the first Bengali autobiography written by a woman in 1897. This is an excerpt about her hiding pages taken from her son’s book:
When the book had been taken inside, I secretly took out a page and hid it carefully. It was a job hiding the it, nobody must find it in my hands. That would lead to severe rebukes and I would never be able to put up with that. It was not at all easy to do something that is forbidden and then to face the consequences. Times were very different then, and I was an exceptionally nervous person. Such days! Where could I hide it that nobody would come across it? Eventually, I decided that it must be a place where I would always be present but which nobody else visited much. What else could it be but the kitchen? I hid it under the hearth.