Having had a strong North Indian influence throughout my childhood, I was never the typical Bengali grand daughter my grandmother would have loved to had.
And being the complete tomboy, aspects of Bong feminism were considered as a distant dream whenever the old lady thought about me. I think.
It’s difficult for a child to fit into a society where the local language is alien to you, so much so that it often creates speech problems. Learnt it the tough way too.
And then while I was brushed aside to be the black sheep who would never appreciate the depths her own literature has to offer – to prove them wrong seemed to be the most wonderful challenge life could offer to me.
And thus began my journey with my mother tongue. Incessant questions, a patient mother, an ultra knowledgeable father, a rich storehouse of book-stacked-home and numerous hideouts in that old house I grew in where no one would know how much time it took me to read a single page.
Yes I lost a lot, as the pen failed me. The fingers still fail to conjure up the scribble in my mother tongue beyond my name. I often say a silent apology to my daughter for this shortcoming and hope that she teaches me.
But then yesterday when the Reader of Viswabharati (Shantiniketan) mailed me to praise my critical take on Tagore’s work on the Commemorative Issue of Tagore’s 150th Birth Anniversary, published by Muse India I somehow smiled. As I confessed my shortcoming he refused to believe that I never have had any formal teaching in this language. Me being so used to this by now, I just smiled and said that things close to the heart are never taught but simply learnt.
I wrote a critical take on the poetry that Baba had read just before my birth named “Sagarika”, by Tagore and decided that nothing was more befitting for his daughter. I write as to how a crazily romantic ballad hid the diplomatic side of Tagore. And in his Editorial when Dr. Sen wrote about my piece that,
“Having traveled extensively, he envisaged the collapsing of boundaries. Repeatedly witnessing exploitation, tyranny and avarice, he was capable of dreaming of a humanity guided by ethics and particular piece articulates Rabindranath’s radical notion of travel as pilgrimage in the process of interaction of cultures”
I somehow missed GM and her reading this piece. I somehow missed all those who had mocked me for my inability to speak fluently without interruption of glints of foreign language in my speech. I missed all those to whom I was too westernized to even know where my roots lie, leave aside my origin. Wish they knew me “Through the Sea Maiden’s eyes“.
Have you ever felt solace breaking a tag?