Sunday, August 9, 2009

Learning Bangla...

I have been telling you stories of my school days in Barrackpore for last few posts, and the last one particularly featuring my local train journeys to and from home in Khardah. All this travelling was taking a toll on me as I was not used to it and used to get too tired. Also, the home was a parental home of my father, and we were entitled to only one small room on the first floor, which was not sufficient to house my ma's pretty much expanded "sonsar" (I could not find a better fitting word here - it means a sum of family and household belongings) of around 9 years now.

So there was a hunt on for rented accommodation somewhere nearer to school - to make life little more easier for me. Though I was an active part of many many house hunts later, this time I was a little too young to know anything. Life was very cool for me, I being shielded and cushioned from all the efforts my parents had to undertake to hunt for a suitable house, shift there, maintain a fine balance of relationship with my grandparents, and live very amicably in a house which had 2 other units inhabited by the landlords (on 1st floor) and another tenant (also sharing the ground floor with us). I was surrounded by my parents' love and attention and also with my favourite storybooks all the time. I loved reading books of all kinds - strictly the kiddie ones of course <;-)> both in English and Bangla...

Though I never read Bangla in school - the languages I studied were English to start with and Hindi and Sanskrit at a later stage. But all credit to my parents, they taught me bangla at home - writing and reading, before I actually learnt Hindi at school. So Bangla was the 2nd language which I learnt to read and write. And the love of the language was sustained by constant efforts from my parents.....We subscribed to popular Bangla children's magazine - Anandomela, from the time I was 3/4 years old, and my mother made it a point to read me stories and poems from it regularly. And once I learnt to read, I got addicted to it, and used to look forward to it. This habit continued for pretty long, till the time I was say 14/15, and started losing interest in kiddie stuff. Anandomela, also evolved later as a more of a teens magazine and lost all its charm that it has in my growing-up years....

The writing habit was sustained by encouraging me to write to all relatives strictly in Bangla. There were 2 mandatory times of the year when I had to write letters to all close relatives - "Nabobarsho"(Bengali New Year) and "Shubho Bijoya"(Dussera or Durga Puja - the most popular festival of Hindu Bengalis). And this is so typical of all Bengali families. We still carry on with the tradition of wishing near and dear ones on these 2 occasions, but today it is either a SMS or a phone call or a mass E-mail !!!!

So, I actually never got to forgot the letters, but the quality of the handwriting was pathetic at best till the time I actually did write...but now I don't know how much it could have deteriorated further...It has been years that I wrote anything in Bangla at all :-(

There is a hilarious incident related to my Bangla writing, which I am never allowed to forget by ma - she never ceases to tease me on this !!! I was very young, may be around 6-7 years at the time. It was one of the 2 "letter-writing" time of the year...I was writing to all - my mashis, mamas, dida, thamma, dadu, cousins etc. One of these letters was destined for my "Baro mashi"(eldest sister of ma). In Bangla, there are 3 different letters which bring about the phonetic of "R" or similar. So there are three "raw" (please read this as bangla) - "Bo-e-shunno-raw", "Do-e-shunno-raw" & "Dho-e-shunno-raw". If you are not familiar with Bangla, there exists exactly the same scenario in Hindi also. The fact is "Baro-mashi" is spelled with "Do-e-shunno-raw". But I did not know how to spell it an was asking my parents about the spelling. I do not exactly remember what ma told me, but my interpretation was the word was spelled with all three "raw", and ended by writing all "Baw" followed by all the 3 "raw"s!!!! It looked really funny to my parents though I never understood at that time what the fuss was all about!!! It was much later that I comprehended the it was so funny to look at such a spelling <:-)>


  1. Koel
    You came back after a long long time. The problem you had was experienced by my children also who spent most of their times outside Bengal.

  2. Koel, probably my first comment here.
    What prompted me to do so was the mention of Anandamela. I had literally lived my childhood on this magazine and travelled through its journey of monthly issue, fortnightly small issue and the fortnightly normal sized issue.

    Till date, I am an avid reader of the Anandamela Pujo sonkhya and I have this years issue in my hand at the moment.

    Great to have a similar memory strain!!

  3. Hi Pradipda, thanks for your encouragement. But I find this drive missing among today's generation. Kids today have too much in their hands and have no time to devote to learning their mother tongue....Its sad but may be unavoidable....

    Hi Lazyani, thanks so much for visiting my blog. Great to know that you still read anandomela...I have given up on this pujoshonkha some time back, and now stick to desh mostly...

  4. Hello.....nice post...
    We too had this tradition of writing letters (on blue inland letters/postcards) in bangla for poila boishakh bijoya...

    I remember the common beginnings of the 12-15 letters..."Srichoroneshu...."

    Now, as you said, mass emails & sms-es have taken away the charm of these letter writing sessions!