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Onam:A perspective

by: Joshua

I don’t really know how I’m gonna start this but let’s see how it goes?

I’m not a Malayali, so I was clearly shocked when I was tasked with writing a piece on Onam. I was asked to write about Onam from my perspective and thanks to my ‘mallu’ peeps I have some content.

Also, I’m guessing almost everyone knows why Onam is celebrated but just in case someone is unaware, I shall specify. Onam is a harvest festival usually taking place around August and September. It is celebrated for 10 days with various festivities and activities. 

All the knowledge I have about Onam is from my ‘mallu’ friends(all “amazing”). My best friend is a Malayali, so growing up I spent a fair amount of time at his place, chilling. I spent last Thiruvonam(last day of Onam) at his place and I was a bit surprised looking at the food(Obviously I’m gonna talk about the food). Essentially, I don’t really eat vegetarian food much and it being a festival day, well….there was only veg food, so I was a bit like umm…okay…

The meal is called Sadhya and is eaten over a banana leaf. I sat at the edge of the table, getting ready to eat when one by one the dishes were served and instantly filled the entirety of the leaf. The amount of variety was insane and really overwhelming at first. I don’t remember what the dishes were called but I have to say, they were DELICIOUS. I rarely say this for veg dishes but they were amazing and I was stuffed to the point where I couldn’t move(whew). 

In school, all our teachers would wear the traditional white and gold saree and we would have a huge pookalam(flower rangoli is my best description) in the lobby. The best part was even the teachers who weren’t from Kerala would join in and celebrate, showing their love for Onam.

Okay, so I took a break in between writing this piece since I was out of ideas but I think I might be onto something small.

Since I joined VIT I’ve met a lot of new people and made quite a few mallu friends. These people are so annoying yet so chill, especially this one character(inserts upside-down head emoji) but I’ll tell you about them some other day. So essentially they’ve introduced me to Malayalam media and I wasn’t really expecting it to be so good. From movies to songs and even a youtube channel. Coming to my point, so the aforementioned channel is named Karikku and they make hilariously funny videos in Malayalam(since I don’t understand a lot of it, I use subtitles) and they have like two videos based on Onam which feature short stories. They show how bachelors miss celebrating Thiruvonam with their families and try to make things work among themselves but don’t really succeed. It also involves various plot points which make it hilarious. Towards the end, they are shown united and together and how the spirit of oneness bonds them together. Just like it’s shown, Onam is a festival that is fun when celebrated with one another, with friends and family. My friends have opened my mind to new experiences and I thank them for that(if not for them I don’t know how I would’ve written this piece). Unfortunately this Onam I won’t be able to go have Sadhya(inserts crying emoji). I do not exaggerate when I tell you how tasty it is but it is yummmmmm. 

I don’t know what more I could add to this but considering I went from eating Sadhya to talking about a Malayali youtube channel and I am surprised I had things to talk about. Honestly, never have I struggled to write a piece like this but at the same time, I genuinely loved writing this. Lots of memories came running back to me while I was thinking about this, made me a bit happy 🙂

Happy Onam to everyone and especially to my Mallu Kuttis( the word means small)<3. Hope y’all have an amazing time!

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A Tale Of Two Nights

by:Tharun

14th August 1947

Loud noises of the Gypsy Jeeps were echoing in every alleyway. Alleyways stuffed with people as far as the eye could see. While most of them were rushing to listen to The Man in White speak, a few seemed to be making their way out of the crowd, almost as if they were looking for something precious that they had just lost. Pandemonium. This was the only possible way to describe the night, right in the middle of which was a young girl. Orphaned at birth, she had never known a life of certainty. While many had tried to foster her through the years, none of them ended well. Yet again, she was back on the streets. Although this wasn’t unusual for her, she could sense something very different this time.

She looked weary of her journey. She lost count of the days for which she had been on the road in search of a home. At one point when she thought that she’d found one, she was told that they could only take her brother in. A brother whose existence she didn’t even know about till that moment, but the loss of whom felt as if she had lost a part of herself. Many miles and several horrifying visuals later, she had finally reached where she was now. She didn’t really know if she could call this place home, but she was too tired to go any further. 

The people here looked no different from what she’d seen. What was different about them was that they seemed to have a strange sense of hope. The kind which could be easily mistaken for unrest. She heard someone yell that all their troubles had come to an end. She scoffed at them. Although still a child, she knew not to fall for this illusion; she could see with her own eyes that nothing had changed. Buildings were being swallowed by flames and people were being slaughtered for fictitious reasons. What was funny was that everyone knew this, yet their desperation for hope superseded their ability to sense the horrors of reality.

Suddenly, everything went silent. People stopped right where they were and the Jeeps turned their engines off. The only thing that the girl could hear was the faint voice echoing from the loudspeakers. Someone said that The Man in White had started speaking. Everyone was listening to him as though he were instructing a new way of life. Though she had never believed in hope, the fact that everyone else did, comforted her in a way. Reassured by this, she shut her eyes with a feeling that things would change for her this time, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. 

14th August 2021 

It’s dinner time and everyone is glued to the television. With a plate in their hand, they’re listening to the interview of The Man in Blue, Olympian Neeraj Chopra talking about his historic win. As the interview finishes, everyone is forced to get off their seats by a lady, who just seventy-four years ago was a scared little girl. 

The same girl who once feared for her life now runs a proud household. She has children, friends and family whom she can confidently call her own. Truth be told, not much has changed for her. It’s just that the years have given her the strength to keep a straight face while dealing with troubles. One of her sons succumbed to Covid while gasping for breath. She listens to her friends talk about the way they are subjected to mental and physical trauma at their homes. A few years after that night of 1947, someone once told her that the brother whom she was separated from was actually two people… or something like that, she can’t recollect exactly. Every day she helplessly witnesses her children quarrel with each other for the same reasons that she had seen seventy-four years back. The only difference is that now they pin it on her honour rather than the other person’s cowardice. 

She feels the hope which people once shared is now transformed into something different. It has now changed into arrogance. The arrogance that breaks off a friendship. The arrogance that threatens others to prove its supremacy over them. What hurts her the most is when one of her own children is labeled an outsider. As someone who toiled for years to build this family from the ground up, she feels she let down that little girl who for once came close to believing in the concept of hope. 

Everyone in the household is excited for tomorrow. It’s one of the only days where all of her kids spend time at home together. She personally has mixed feelings about the day. On one hand, it reminds her of the story of a little girl who grew into a beautiful person against all odds. On the other, it reminds her of hope. The same hope which is now synonymous with unrest. She fears for the lives of her own. She wonders if the Man In White lied to the people that night. 

There is one thing that she is certain about. People are not evil, they are simply misguided and afraid. In 1947, her house didn’t have a head. Now, there are far too many, with all of them tugging about the roof in a separate direction. She knows the cost at which her freedom came. The tears, the bloodshed, the unbridled sacrifice that she had to witness to even think of a probable future, let alone a prosperous one. She only hopes that people realise the struggles of those who gave her and many others the chance to have a place to call home, rather than glorifying them mindlessly. But then again, she never fully believed in hope.

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The Microtonal Beauty of Jazz.

by:Viraaj

First celebrated on April 30th, 2011, International Jazz Day, a day that highlights Jazz and its role in uniting people all across the globe. But what really is jazz? What makes it different from other forms of music?

By definition, Jazz is a genre that has its origins in the African-American communities of Orleans, Louisiana, United States of America. It has its roots in 19th and 20th century Blues and Ragtime. It is characterized by blues notes, swing, complex chords, poly-rhythms, microtones and above all Improvisation.

But, to me, jazz is a form of music that gives the player freedom to play whatever, freedom to interpret the music in their own way, meaning that no two performances, even by the same musician are never the same. Each performance changes with the performer’s mood, their interactions with their bandmates and their experience, this means that melodies, harmonies, solos and even the time signatures change with each performance. Jazz truly represents the diversity of the individual, and as a result of this freedom, we have multiple sub-genres or forms, each varying slightly from the other. This is in stark contrast to Classical Music, staying true to the source is important. Any and all deviation from what is written on the sheets of music in front of you is not perceived well.

Jazz bands usually have a soloist that is supported by a rhythm section that have instruments such as a piano or guitar, or both, a double bass and drums.  The rhythm section supports the soloist, giving them a solid base to build off of and often responding to the changes that the soloist makes, ensuring that the soloist is able to stand out to the crowd. In comparison to this, forms of jazz such as Free Jazz and Avant-Garde reduce this separation between the soloist and the rhythm sections, giving the other instruments a license to move away from the source based on their mood.

In Jazz, there is this requirement for the players to abandon classical notions of sticking to a scale or a time signature and explore the possibilities of what can and will sound good. As someone who had just completed what seemed like the basics of music theory, Jazz seemed like this over-the-top, complicated genre that only experienced players attempted. The complicated chords and the quick scale changes, were all too difficult to comprehend. And while I still find these techniques complicated, it hasn’t stopped me from enjoying the songs.

Jazz takes you away from the 4 chord monotony that is present in a lot of modern songs (take for example Dusk Till Dawn by Zayn)  and stretches the limits of what is perceived as possible. Compared to other genres such as Pop, Rock and Punk, the variety in Jazz is what I find appealing, though Linkin Park is and always will be my favourite band. And this, at least in my opinion, separates the average album pop or rock song from songs like ‘Boy’ and ‘L.A. Girls’ by Charlie Puth and Bruno Mars’ ‘Leave the Door Open’, all of which are amazing songs. If you’re into anime like I am, then background scores produced by Studio Ghibli have some amazing songs that while not necessarily Jazz, do have a lot of influence from Jazz music. And if you like to waste time on YouTube or Instagram or even on Reddit, go look up Charles Cornell, Adam Neely and their likes.

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International Day for Multilateralism and Peace

by:Janani

“It is not enough to proclaim the virtues of multilateralism and diplomacy; we must continue to show its added value. International cooperation must adapt to changing times.

Let us strive as one to realize the founders’ vision of a healthy, equitable, peaceful and more sustainable future for all.”- Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations

Throughout history, mankind has always been broiled in conflict. Numerous cultures and societies, constantly battling for a plethora of reasons. From the Romans to the Mongols, the Mughals, and the British Empire- has there ever been a moment of peace? Empires rise and fall, cities are sacked, societies are burned, people are enslaved, and there is bloodshed.

Reflecting on our history matters, because when we look into the past, we can see just how far we’ve come, and how much more we need to progress.

The times we are living in right now are globally one of the most peaceful- held up by the pillars of modern-day diplomacy and multilateralism.

Has there ever been a time where we’ve been more united, and on such an enormous scale?

April 24th is the International Day of Multilateralism and Diplomacy, established by the United Nations in 2018.  It is meant to acknowledge the use of diplomatic and peaceful means to resolve conflicts between countries- even if it doesn’t always work.

Gone are the days where we siege nations for spices or silk- but now we fight for oil, labor, and more. The world is most certainly not perfect right now, there are so many ongoing issues- The Syrian War and the Israeli- Palestine conflict to name a few.

So how could we have a day celebrating diplomacy and multilateralism when it seems so superficial? When there is so much more to resolve?

But the purpose of the “International Day of Multilateralism and Peace” isn’t simply patting ourselves on the back for a job well done and dusting our hands of any more work.

 We may have achieved a level of peace and diplomacy of historically unprecedented levels- but that doesn’t mean all our work is over. It’s not only about recognizing how far we’ve come- but realizing how much further we have to go.

So much blood was shed to reach this point in history- where the world can unite; where we can stand together; where we can accept each other, and where we can work together.

April 24th is about celebrating a day that is a marker of progress, and a symbol of hope for the future. 

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TELUGU NUTHANA SAMVATSARA SUBHAKANKSHALU

by: Rithika Palvayi

Hmmmm, if I’d have to choose between “3, 2, 1…..Happy New Year” and, “Ugadi Subhakankshalu”, I’d go with the latter, any day. Because apart from wearing our traditional outfits and clicking some of the best pictures, there’s much more than you’d expect there to be. You might be appalled by the revelation, but I’m guessing you won’t be if you kept reading. 

If you’re also thinking, “what the hell?”, you should take a trip to Andhra Pradesh and Telangana (went by alphabetical order, no biasing) – the two profound Telugu states of India, during April, more or less. That’s when our New Year celebrations take place. The fun in waking up to the smell of the tamarind paste/juice stands unparalleled. The special delicacy we make that day is not only our favorite breakfast, lunch, and dinner but also holds importance and much meaning in our lives. 

Bet you’re curious to know what’s so tasty about it. Let me walk you through.

I had to ask my Grandma for all the information. I definitely prefer her over Google and I’m intransigent about it. 

We start by grating off slices or chopping up fine pieces of jaggery which is the purest form of sweet. And it happens to represent happiness in our life. And we add much more jaggery than any other ingredient because we love to believe that no matter what, life would turn out well in the end. 

Then comes the unripe mango, also small pieces again. Preferably so, because it stands for the surprises thrown at us during this journey. I bet not many are fans of that surprise element, huh? 

Maybe they also have the greater good motive, we never know. 

Remember the tamarind I was flaunting about? Ah, yes. Woefully, being so tasty, tamarind happens to represent the feeling of disgust. That same feeling I happen to experience when I see pictures of couples on my Instagram. 

The real surprising element here is the neem flower. It depicts the sorrows. You might not know but it tastes bad. If you ever taste the ‘Ugadi pachadi’, do not bite on this flower. It’ll ruin everything, just like sadness does. Watch the movie Inside Out, you’ll know that sadness is the enemy. Did you also know that neem has antifungal properties? 

And then comes the Telugu people’s most favorite vegetable – chilies. I prefer chili powder to this, though. It’s here to show the anger. Be it pent up or that had been taken out on your soft toys. We add this in the least amounts of all because of obvious reasons.

This one ingredient makes its presence known. Yeah, it’s the salt. It represents fear. Maybe that’s why my mom adds extra salt into my glass when I have this because generally I’m a brave person, but you put on a horror movie, I’m scared more than a scaredy-cat.  

My mom also adds bananas for the sweetness. It only ‘engorgio’s the taste. Another choice could be sugarcane pieces too.   

You should also know that Ugadi means ‘Start of a new Yug’. This tradition of celebration was started by a great king, Gautamuiputra Shatakarni. Note that he put his mother’s name before his. On a side note: RESPECT WOMEN AS MUCH THEY DESERVE.

If you’d noticed, I womansplained six simple tastes to you all. They’re called ‘shadh ruchulu’ – literally meaning six tastes. Unlike most of our lives, this ‘pachadi’ has a balance of taste, which wishes the ones having it to also have proportionate amounts of right feelings and balanced life. 

Hope you visit the  Telugu states and have this beautiful and the tastiest traditional concoction which, I promise also is a cleanse to your body.

PS: Having too much on the same day might result in sitting in the bathroom the next day for a long time, so I’ll go charge my phone already. 

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Bura Na Mano, Holi Hai!

by:Viraaj

Holi – the festival where people rejoice and celebrate forgetting their biases/ grudges and come together as one with bright shimmering colours all over them, loaded with pichkaris and water balloons, sweet/ savories, and not to be missed – bhaang – the favorite drink of Lord Shiva. It is a festival that aims at teaching each other equality as people apply colour to each other’s faces regardless of their caste, gender, and religion. 

Being celebrated all over India, the festival goes by many names, Rang Panchmi in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, Phakuwah in Assam, Basant Utsav in West Bengal, Manjal Kuli in Kerala to name a few.  It is also celebrated in Mauritius, Fiji, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Pakistan, and the Philippines.

Holi is celebrated in the month of Phalgun, which generally falls around February or March. The festival starts the night before Holi, marked by Holika Dahan, where a bonfire or Holika is lit around dusk and everyone gathers around it, eating or talking with their friends. 

Holika Dahan is followed by Holi, which marks the triumph of good over evil and truth over ignorance. There are many stories that talk about the origin of Holi, one such story shows the origins of Lord Krishna’s blue skin complexion. On being poisoned by the Putana’s breast milk, Lord Krishna’s skin turned blue in colour making him doubt if the fair-skinned Radha would like him. His mother suggested smearing colour on Radha’s face and changing her complexion. He did as he was told and Radha accepted him despite his skin colour. As a result, Holi is also celebrated as the festival of divine love of Radha and Krishna. 

Today, not one year goes by without articles on how harmful synthetic colours are and how polluting it is, but Holi was never a polluting festival. The colours used in ancient times were all extracted from different natural sources, such as flower petals and spices. These also had medicinal properties and benefited the skin. 

As industries grew, the production of synthetic colours became cheaper and their sale became profitable, this resulted in the popularisation of these synthetic colours and the decline of organic colours. However, with the rising concerns of the negative impacts of synthetic colours, organic colours have become more common during Holi celebrations.

Every colour used in Holi has a significance:-

Blue represents Lord Krishna’s blue skin complexion, 

Red symbolizes love and matrimony, 

Green symbolizes new beginnings., 

Yellow signifies health and happiness and 

Orange, though not traditionally used in Holi, can be seen being used frequently today, it symbolizes the sun which represents a new day.

This year, we are in the middle of a pandemic, and celebrating Holi as we did a few years ago may not be possible. This doesn’t mean we stop celebrating the festival, this year, we can celebrate the festival by spending time with our loved ones, forgiving the grudges we bear against each other, and accept people regardless of their caste, religion, or gender. This year let’s ensure that we are able to overcome the pandemic, following the rules set by the government, staying true to the heart of Holi, and overcoming the evil of COVID-19.

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Far from Home

By:Rajendran

Language proficiency is a skill many develop to blend in with their surroundings, expand their exposure in the field of expertise, and gaining knowledge. However, we must agree that it is not a mission easily accomplished. Those who seek a little spice in their life would prefer to fly to other nations, learning their culture, and waking up to a new horizon but all that does not come without a struggle. To be specific, Tamilians who venture out into the vast Indian country, a motherland to hundreds of dialects and languages are no strangers to this issue. Living in their own country and still struggling to get through their everyday lives due to lack of proper communication is common and tragic.  Here are a few challenges faced by individuals who make a living among their foreign peers and colleagues who are not familiar with our mother language, Tamil. 

Here are some of the potential challenges faced by individuals who live in a place where their mother language is not spoken. The essential key to connect is communication. However, without properly learning the language; it is difficult to engage or understand the true intention of our friends. This can often lead to misunderstanding among our colleagues. There are high chances that we might end up making acquaintance with people who don’t have the best intentions for us. 

When we have to think and acknowledge the perspective of others, we expect the same but the struggle is real when the opposite party have a hard time understanding our way of saying things. For example we go to a grocery store where vegetables, fruits and meat are easily identified. Unless you’re a very good cook you can’t be sure what spice to use and asking for help can sometimes lead to wrong ingredients and spoil your meal. This is just from one angle but such simple activities require communication which we fail to acquire and they never saw the need to learn another language to despite it is now common that we reside there. 

“We understand the beauty of our mother tongue when we are abroad”

As stated above are a couple of issues we Tamilians face in our birth country. Learning a new language does not mean we have to abandon our own mother tongue and also it is even okay to teach your language to them if they wish. In addition to this, it also seems impossible to master the language without facing these obstacles. If we decide to pay attention to the mocking and avoid the struggle of communication, then the language will not be mastered. We should always remember that it’s okay to make mistakes but always remember to learn from them. After overcoming our challenges it will be accomplished.  

“Whoever doesn’t know foreign language does not know about his mother tongue either”

According to some recent research, about 90% of the population who were far from home undergoing a problem just related to language, and yes learning other languages isn’t any worse until you forget yours. Remember many people console and give their shoulders when we are low but only by lying in our mother’s lap we feel completely healed and that is how our mother language too. This earth has a million numbers of languages. But never lose the very common link language called a ‘Smile’.

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Pride, Prejudice and Ami Tomake Bhalobashi

by:Adrita

Let me be completely honest with you, reader. As I begin writing this, I have no idea what to write or how it will turn out to be. Excuse me for rambling in places, or for politically incorrect gibberish. When I signed up to write a piece on “International Mother Language Day”, I had not expected to be quite so confused. I thought it would be easy. I would write something about our Mother Tongue being our identity, and how education in regional languages should be supported and yadda yadda.  I don’t have an opinion on those things (Actually, I do but that’s for another day).

21st February of every year is when International Mother Language Day is observed worldwide. To me, it is that day every year when my father tries to wake me up at 6 am, like all days, and yells “TODAY IS MAATRIBHASHA DIBOSH!” about five times before I grunt from underneath my blanket.

Forgive me for being so selfish, reader, but since I am at my wit’s end about how to write a generally relatable piece on this, I won’t be trying to. This piece is going to be hella specific and personal, it’s going to be about me and my connection to my Mother Tongue, Bengali. I am a Bengali who was brought up in Gujarat. I am going to say the word “Bengali” a lot of times throughout this piece. It’s fine, you can bleep out the word “Bengali” if you feel like it comes up too much and it’s annoying. You know what? Start right now.

International Mother Language Day is supposed to be about your pride in your Mother Tongue, but so far, I have written nothing that suggests that. I do not comprehend the concept of pride in something that you had no merit in achieving. This is not the first time I am arriving at this conclusion, but maybe I am not the best person to write this piece. 

“I sing in Bengali; I sing the song of Bengal.” [1]

I grew up listening to Rabindra Sangeet and Nazrul Geeti. I was so fascinated by Bengali Literature that I would translate some works (albeit badly) so that my friends would understand. They listened to me patiently, with a smile, but I could tell they couldn’t figure out what the big deal was and what I was so excited about. One even admitted to feeling slightly lost and “not liking Tagore”. And that is when I felt my Bengali pride kick in. I said nothing, but I was filled with rage, and in hindsight, it was unreasonable and I am ashamed of it. You can’t expect someone who has only heard my horrible translations to appreciate Tagore. It was a knee-jerk reaction, and as ashamed of it as I am, it is still hard to control. This is what I am afraid will happen if I indulge in Bengali pride so much. Unwarranted Bengali Pride at that.

“I speak in Bengali; I speak of Bengal.” [1]

I have been stuck for a very long time. I remember asking a friend who is also a Bengali who grew up in Gujarat, what we really were. We can’t be considered Bengalis. Very often, my relatives have laughed at me for speaking like a “non-Bengali”. We can’t be considered Gujaratis, because we eat, speak and live differently. Our names don’t do us any favors. So where do we belong? Or do we belong nowhere? He… sort of, stared at a wall, opened and closed his mouth multiple times, and said nothing for a while. I think I broke him.
Adults confuse me too. They go from “Are you not a Bengali?” to “As if you are a Bengali” faster than you can say Heejibeejbeej.
Here’s a letter that fourteen-year-old Adrita wrote to her parents long, long ago. Of course, I made it up, but that doesn’t matter, because it says what I felt at that time.

Dear Mom and Dad,
I won’t have lunch today. Today was a disaster. They noticed I was a Bengali. They knew I was a Bengali because of my surname, but then something struck them, and then…then (heavy weeping) they looked at me with disgust and asked me if I eat non-vegetarian food.
And now, they avoid me for a whole new reason. Please do not draw more attention to the fact that we are Bengali when my friends come over. I do not like being shunned.
Yours sincerely,
<Insert embarrassing nickname that my parents call me but I know better than to put up on a public platform>

Of course, that did not happen. Not in quick succession at least. And they would not avoid me or shun me, but they would be less willing to accept anything that I offered them to eat anymore, which had never been a problem until the fact that I was a Bengali preceded any other characteristic of mine in their heads. Was I hard-done-by because of that? No. It was kind of nice. I would buy a cake from the school canteen, and they would think that the cake now has egg because I touched it. There were times when it was not so nice, like when we were looking for a new place to live, and we had a lot of trouble because of who we were and what we ate. I did spend most of my teen years thinking it was shameful to be the way I am. When we finally got a place, we had to lie about how we were “not like other Bengalis”. And as much as I tried to be more than just my ethnicity, it always lurked in the corner like a shadow. Frequently, it was at the forefront, when others introduced me, “That’s ABC, she dances well. That’s XYZ, she sings well. That’s Adrita, and she is…a Bengali.” Well, thank you, anonymous person who introduces everyone, now no one will know that I am good at making paper boats and setting them afloat in water and making them damp and tearing them to shreds. The world just missed out on so much talent and you are the reason.

“I love in Bengali; I love the land of Bengal.” [1]

When people hear that I am a Bengali they try to utter multiple hilariously incorrect variations of “Ami Tomake Bhalobaashi” i.e. I love you. I used to correct them, but now I just throw back my head and laugh. It is easier that way. Yeah, it’s annoying, but kudos for trying y’all. I love you too. And I am trying very hard to ignore the fact that the only time anyone has ever said that they love me is when they are trying to prove they can speak Bengali. I’ll be right back; I have to go cry over the zero gifts I received for Valentine’s Day.

Did I manage to convince you that you should be proud of your Mother Tongue? No?! Because I could not convince myself either LOL. To sum up, I was ashamed of my Mother Tongue because I feared that I would be othered. I was also reluctant to be proud of it because I feared I would be the one doing the othering. I think I wanted to write this piece for myself. To clear my own confusion. And I have not been very successful, so yeah stop booing at me, no one had fun…
But it’s not over yet, ladies, gentlemen, and others. When I say I have trouble being concise I mean it. What’s the deal with 21st February, though? Why do we celebrate International Mother Language Day on 21st February?

“The 21st of February, spattered with the blood of my brothers.
How can I ever forget the 21st of February?
The 21st of February, damp with the tears of a hundred childless mothers
How can I ever forget the 21st of February.” [2]

In 1948, the Government of the Dominion of Pakistan appointed Urdu as the only national language. Back then, East Bengal (present-day Bangladesh), which was contained in the Dominion of Pakistan, saw widespread protests since the majority there spoke Bengali. The Government banned public meetings and rallies because that is the logical thing to do (yes, sarcasm). However, in an act of defiance, the students of the University of Dhaka organized a protest on the 21st of February, 1952. The police opened fire and killed and injured many student activists. In 1956, the central government granted official status to the Bengali language. 21st February is therefore proclaimed to be the International Mother Language Day the world over, in honor of the martyrs who sacrificed their lives for the sake of their Mother Tongue, 

You can afford to be cynical of ethnic pride when your identity isn’t under attack. In true human fashion, one only realizes what something is worth when someone else threatens to snatch it away from them, and until then, they are free to utter as much intellectualized jargon as they can to take it for granted. When I say I am proud of my Mother Tongue, it doesn’t mean that you can’t be proud of yours. I am proud of it because I understand it and relate to it and I am sure I would be fascinated by yours if I could understand and relate to yours in the same way.
I can’t convince you to be proud of your Mother Tongue. It is beyond me. But I can tell you this. I spent most of my sentient years ashamed of the language I speak at home and I also spent those years wallowing in a puddle of self-loathing. The best reason I can give you as to why you should love your Mother Tongue is the same people give you as to why you should love yourself. Your contempt for your Mother Tongue is in many ways an extension of how you feel about yourself. So, if people who are overly proud of their language and their ethnicity are arrogant bigots who have achieved nothing worth being proud of in life, you are not much better, sweetie, you hate yourself and that is not better.

Did I offend you? Because I kind of did offend myself. If there’s a petition to get back at me for what I wrote, please send it to me, I would like to sign it too. 

In conclusion, I would like to say, love your Mother Tongue because it is part of you. Rather reductive. I really hoped I could have gone on a “Michael” Madhusudan Datta-esque journey in this and discovered that I am proud of my roots and what not but this probably just turned out to be a teenage girl being pretentious. Speaking of pretentious here’s another letter nineteen-year-old Adrita wrote to her parents today.

Dear Maa and Baba,
Thank you for keeping me in touch with my roots. I know it’s very random, but there’s this thing I was writing. I know you are mad at me; I’ll go have lunch.
Yours sincerely,
<Nope, still not proud of that name>
[1] Translated lyrics from the song ‘Ami Banglay Gaan Gaai’ by Pratul Mukhopadhyay.
[2] Translated lyrics from the song ‘Ekushe February’ by Abdul Gaffar Choudhury.