Sunday, 21 July 2013


In the fifth standard the language was a nightmare.

In our syllabus, the poem 'Tal Gach' by Tagore was included. I read it, liked it, and recited it aloud. Although I wished Tagore would have paid homage to a shorter tree, being 4.8 I was not (and still am not) fond of things that peep into the sky.

I was never into metaphors. In the exam if I were asked what the poem was about, I perhaps would have written 'Tal Gach' (duh!) and that would be it. Of course the marks revealed my royal ignorance. I had still not learnt the magic word 'Kobimon' (the heart of the author) which was to be used to tell the examiner in verbose and magical sentences what one's own thoughts about the poem was and present it as the possible thoughts of the author but how does one really know?

Things did not improve at all. The only source of respite was the collection of story books at home (Sukumar Ray and his sexy son who created that sexy sleuth, Sharatchandra with his series of 'bous' and 'didis... only Srikanto was a welcome relief, in fact come to think of it, I was rather uncomfortable with all the ichore-pnaka girls falling for the very guys whom they called 'dada'). I never read Bibhutibhusan and no Tagore (I could not understand anything he wrote, when I read Bolai I thought 'okay so you love the tree but why would you go rolling down a slope?? The muck! The dirt!' So there. Fortunately, things have changed.

At school too the situation was grim. A teacher (not particularly pretty to put it mildly) who was fast approaching the age of retirement would teach us byakaron by uttering loudly (gesturing with her hands) 'amar mukher moton chaand, amar haather moton podmophool'. (my face is like the moon, my hands are like the lotus). Sweet.

But then God was kind and from the eighth standard onwards we had some amazing Bangla teachers and that was when I realised my mother tongue is not a nightmare.

Now almost a decade later, somewhere away from home, the language is a source of comfort and is almost a confidante, a friend, with whom I can talk in a tongue that no one else around me understands. Together with this friend, journeying on the crests and troughs of those curved letters I can travel to that place I call 'home'.

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