We have just passed 21st February which is known as the International Mother Language Day. As the origin of this particular day somehow has a direct connect to celebrating Bengali language, for all good reasons, Bengalis submerge themselves in a swimming pool full of ecstasy. From the very morning, my Facebook page is full to its brim. Almost all the posts are on celebrating Bangla and adulating the language. It happens every year, but, ironically, just for a day.
Whenever a day gets a suffix as ‘international’, it implies that it would be celebrated across the boundaries. But for this day, the celebration limits itself within Bangladesh and West Bengal. However, Bangladeshis pour more heart to it as long as celebrating this day is concerned.
Their Ekushe celebrations is one of the flagship celebrations of the country. On this day, we, the Bengalis of West Bengal, always feel an urge to prove ourselves better than our Bangladeshi counterparts. We say, ya, you may also love Bangla, but our affinity towards it is more than what you have.
Do we really love Bangla, specially at a time when Bengali medium schools are getting shut one after another? Even the people who belong to, what we say, the lower strata of the community still feel a strong urge to deploy their juniors in English medium schools.
The government is absolutely not showing any inclination to transform the Bengali medium schools to attract students. What they are doing to earn kudos is to convert a set of Bengali medium schools into English medium. Since childhood, I have a bad habit of following my coordinates closely while I travel in public transport. No one speaks in Bengali today.
A mysterious language is being used. This is a confused, asymmetrical blend of English, Hindi and traces of Bengali. From those traces, their roots can be understood. Tune to any FM channel. All the RJs speak exactly in the same language. Turn on any Bengali television channel. Nowadays, all are acting as self-denominated hub of reality show management. The host of each show uses exactly that perfect blend, and all contestants follow. All the judges appreciate the language spoken. A good-looking contestant is asked by the judge like this way, ‘khub nice lagcho dekhte. Secret ta ki batao’ (You look very nice today. Tell us the secret). This has become acceptable the class as well as the mass.
I do not feel uncomfortable being a part of the community. If I don’t feel like that, I will be out of the flock. I will be bullied as perfectionist, obviously in a sarcastic note. Who wants that? Like everyone, I also don’t. But what makes me feel extremely uncomfortable is our one day acting to be a puritan. Social media has given us a wonderful platform to boast, to prove ourselves, to garland us with ornamental quotes. No one even questions, ‘bro do you follow what you post?’ If someone does that by mistake, he is out-rightly removed from the friend list. We care, so we don’t dare.
I was flooded with ‘love-you-bangla’ quotes on 21st February. While I scribble this a couple of days later, those are still poring in. No one has even given a damn to what happened to the bhasa-saheeds, what were their ideologies, what they actually wanted to do with their lives. We will never try to understand the motives of making a day special. What we can do is to turn on the neon lights and dance. Undoubtedly, each of us is the best at it. Every post counts. And we have to believe that love to your mother tongue is directly proportionate to the number of posts you give birth to, especially on the language day.
Amlan Kusum Chakraborty
The views expressed in this article are solely the author’s and do not reflect on Qrius’ editorial policy
Stay updated with all the insights.
Navigate news, 1 email day.
Subscribe to Qrius