An Open Letter from A Chhaposha Bangali to the Bongs
It’s probably pointless asking you about your life, because everything there is to know about it is already on Facebook and Instagram. It’s been a few years, and I’m writing an open letter to you because my mind is bugged by questions. And, I must ask them, before I explode.
Let’s start with the simplest of the questions. Why don’t you speak Bangla?
It seems as though you’re ashamed of the language in which the national anthem was originally composed? While it’s true that no organisation ever declared Bangla as the world’s sweetest language, no matter what the Whatsapp message might claim, it still is a beautiful, expressive language. Yet, you are ashamed to speak it.
Why do you talk to your child like it’s a pet puppy?
As if taking pride in not being able to speak Bangla yourself is not enough, you are imbibing that in your child, as well. You’re trying hard to make sure your child says, “ouch,” instead of “orey baba!” In your effort, you give one-word instructions to your child to “sit”, “stop”, and “eat”. I’m starting to wonder if soon teach the child to “roll”.
And what’s with the accent?
Granted, you went to a Catholic school, and grew up with the Obangalis. But, most Obangalis speak more clearly than you do. You people find each other and then speak in Hinglish amongst yourselves. And with one month of leaving the city or the country, you start to sound like Priyanka Chopra in Quantico. It’s a matter of pride for the Bong diaspora to forget Bangla completely.
How do you have an opinion about our political and economic scenario only after you leave?
As soon as you find a job outside Kolkata that not only pays better but also makes sure you now start paying for your accommodation, food, electricity, and everything else that you didn’t know exist, you start questioning our professionalism. You realise that the main problem with Kolkata is the lack of job opportunities. Suddenly, you see the problem with our political situation. Before, you were apolitical. You even hate the Probashi Bangalis who want to stay Bangalis.
From when did you forget to “carry” the saree?
Remember Saraswati Pujo when you danced in a yellow saree in the school function? That Ashtami morning you wore a saree and went pandal-hopping after Pushpanjali? Suddenly, all you can say about a saree is, “ami saree ta ekdom carry korte pari na.” With an accent.
How is “Pasta” (read, phasthaa) better Kosha Mangsho?
It breaks my heart, and I’m forced to wonder if you’re ashamed of Kolkata Biriyani, Phuchka, and Luchi with Sada Aalu, too. It take it as a betrayal.
Why do you hate Bangali men?
When you say things like, “I love a Punjabis,” and “I hate how Bengali men look”, you sound just like those people who post ads for phorsha, sundori, convent-educated girl with the capability to make perfectly round chapatis, irrespective of your gender.
Why don’t you give Bengali movies and web series a chance?
You know about House of Cards on Netflix, but won’t even consider watching Choritroheen on Hoichoi. You watch House of Cards on Netflix, but consider it embarrassing to watch Byomkesh on Hoichoi. You’re ok with the sparkly Edward in Twilight, but won’t give Yoddha a chance, because Dev’s in it. Such prejudice, much wow!
Why do you read translations of Bengali books?
Somewhere after Sohoj Paath, Kheerer Putul, Sakuntala and Anondomela Pujo Sonkhya, you shifted to Sherlock Holmes and Harry Potter, and your half-hearted attempts to come back stopped at “Adventures of Feluda” and “The Land of Cards”. You are an English Grammar Nazi, proud of your privilege, but you can’t write two sentences in Bengali without inserting an imported word or expression. You take pleasure in the fact that to you and your children, “Bangla ta thik ashe na.”
And finally, what’s with the “HOO LALA HOO LALA” in the ad lib of Pagla Hawa?
It’s one level of stupidity to proudly declare that you hate Rabindrasangeet as a Bangali. But it’s god level stupidity to distort the songs in the name of love and inspiration. Please, STAAAPPP!
I hope that when you’re looking for the answers to these questions, you’ll also find the lost “O” that you need to add at the end of “Bong”, and come back, as a Bongo Chhana, to Bangla. I hope you overcome the colonial hangover as quickly as you transcended Bangaliyana. Because, you may think you’re Paella, but you’re actually non-veg Khichuri who watched by Zindegi Na Milegi Dobara.
A Chhaposha Bangali