Saturday, 30 March 2013

The Journey of a lonely girl

With a broad smile the doctor entered and delivered the news to my mother, ‘you have a baby girl’. It was enough to shatter the dream of my close ones ---- because they never wanted a girl in their family. That was the beginning of a long story. No, I cannot say that my parents didn’t provide me with good schooling and college, but there was always a vacuum. It was never straight from the heart; it seemed more like ‘duty!’ Still, life goes on. It was not an exception. As I grew older, the loneliness became my only companion. (My grandmother and aunt, cousins were always a continuous support). As a kid, I couldn't piece together the moments spent with parents. Neither had I moments which can be tagged as unforgettable. Suddenly I realised I have grown up, unknowingly, to some extent. And what do you feel when you actually ‘grow up?’ taking your own decision? That I used to take when I was in class 3! Choosing a path for higher education, career? No one ever interfered, (to be frank my parents were not even aware that in how many colleges I had applied for my degree course study!) Their only concern was ‘good result’. I had tried, but couldn't say whether those had made them happy. (The day my Mass Communication result was out and I stood third, same day my cousin’s result was out from a different university, it was a mega celebration at home as she scored a first class. I too was happy for her, I am devoid a feeling called ‘jealousy’, but no one not even my ma-baba had asked about my result. I felt bad). I moved on, consoled myself by saying that it was a degree and mine was a Diploma only. May be for that... As time flies, my education came to an end. Finished MA in History from JU and joined my first job at ABP. It was a funny experience. After a written test and interview I was selected as a trainee journalist. I was asked in the interview board itself whether I would prefer to join their English Edition! After a thought, I chose to test my hand at Bangla Journalism. It was a learning experience; I found myself as ‘tiny tod’ there... so many big names, altogether a different world. I loved the job, so was the pampering by all the Didis and Dadas. (The advantage of being the junior most). My first boss (though not on paper) Ishani Datta Ray was a lady with a substance. She taught me ABC of subbing and writing. And at the same time she became my closest friend, though almost 13 years senior to me! Later on I realised that she was the best boss I have ever worked with. At times I got angry with her, felt bad sometimes, but it was her cordial and kind gestures which made me forget everything. She is still a big influence in my life. I never had seen such a person of integrity like her. Only for her continuous encouragement, within 4 months of joining I started to write the most important stories of national and international events (barring the major political developments) But a call from IIM Calcutta made me quit this job. I joined the institute and its green campus was enough to fall in love with the place. Being a Trainee Teaching Associate there, was a real treat. I learnt and unlearnt so many things. The funniest thing was, almost all the students were of my age, so I soon befriended them. I had some personal experience there which I preferred not to discuss. But those tough times had actually made me a strong person. Today I can handle any situation at ease, thanks to IIMC. Really proud to be there. As all good things must come to an end, so with IIMC. I left the place and joined Ei Samay (Times Groups' new Bengali daily) before a very short stint with IIFT, Kolkata. Getting into Ei Samay was a journey to remember. After three rounds of interviews (two informal and a formal) and a written test I was offered the post of Senior Copy editor. I must say, it is totally a different set up, nothing to do with my former organisation (other than some people from there). I personally feel, this is completely a professional set-up, where emotions have no place. Some might say, ‘an office must be like that’, yes, so very true. But at the same time if there is no one to share your tears and smile, likes and dislikes, can a person survive there for long hours? The answer is Yes, that is possible. But for that you have to have your own Mantra ‘work, work and more work and turn a blind eye and deaf ear to everything else’. It worked. I am happy to get an encouraging boss, who himself is nothing short of a ‘Living Legend’ in Bengali journalism. Some other talented people are around, from whom one can learn so many things. I can say it for sure, my jobs have wiped away a bit of my loneliness. Music and books too are good therapy. There is a persistent question thrown at me, why am I not getting married? Well, that’s a personal choice, I want to be single forever. Please don’t read between the lines and draw your own conclusion that “I must have had an affair which didn't happen, thus...” No, I never had any affair or something like that. But I have always scored a duck in trusting people. It has started from my school and still going on, whoever I trusted as a friend or so, within months I found I was nothing but a ‘use and throw’ material for them. Once the work done, people forgot me. (Though few exceptions are there). And marriage is all about Trust, so I don’t want to throw myself into the fire. I love to be with people and want to move on like that.. and I have a peculiar character; If someone is uncomfortable with me (be it in professional or personal life) I completely withdraw myself from their lives. It might hurt me, still... However, crossing the bar is a sole responsibility of an individual & in order to win the battle called life, one has to embark upon the journey alone; for I believe, the show must go on...

Friday, 15 March 2013

New Anti Rape Bill --- Nirbhaya's unfinished journey

We have spent thousands of words in dicussing the various provisions of new anti rape Bill, which is soon going to be an act.. But the question lies. Tougher law is always a welcoming step if implemented properly. But that couldn't answer the basic question. Will this new one will be useful enough to contain the crime against the women? Well, in paper it could. But in practice, it's tough, really tough. Many eyebrows could be raised by this explanation. But in my view, I believe no law single handedly could make any difference. Had it been so, India wouldn't have any murder, dowry death and so many other things. For each of these crimes, stringent laws are in place. But did it stop all kinds of crimes? My hunch feeling is, same is going to be happened in the amended Criminal Law too, where anti rape is a section. Actually, the problem lies elsewhere & precisely, that's our patriarchal society. A girl child is still a matter of shock. In some belts of India, female foeticide is a regular exercise and moreover, the general notion about women is 'they are for pleasure and raising babies.' The moment you are accepting the fact that women are for pleasure,knowingly or unknowingly you are joining the bandwagon of objectifying the female clan. Take for example, be it cinemas or advertisement, the vital stats of a woman is harped upon. Not the product, but the woman body is selling! Enjoying a lady becomes a natural right of a man. Be it within the marriage or outside the marriage. The frustrated men couldn't keep their libido in control, so rape has become THE TRUTH for Indian society. By violating a woman's body, the man (beast, I mean) is getting a sadistic pleasure by showing his manliness. And then there is our society, which is in slightest occasion always raised a finger at women. As if the girl is responsible for getting raped. And I am not surprised that Marital Rape is not mentioned in the new Act, how could it be? Our society believes, marrying off means right of a man to make sexual advances to his wife, even if the wife is unwilling. Many of us don't even understand the very logic of 'marital rape'. Even sometimes Court had said, 'how could a husband rape his wife?' So, we cannot expect this provision to be included in the proposed Act. Strangely enough, kids of 9-10 years have become a rapist! Where from are they learning this? Have we ever thought of this? Here, we cannot deny the role of television media and online games. It brings us to the question of the age of the juvenile. An under trial of horrific Delhi Gangrape case is little less than 18-year-old, so he couldn't be tried under existing law! But he can rape a girl twice!! & he is clever enough to claim immunity under the ground of his under age. And it puts another decision in question, why did the age of consent lower to 16 years. Legal age of marriage is 18 and 21, even so there are rampant child marriage. Now lowering of the age of consent will result in more and more under age marriages and sex crimes. A section of a society will try to experience 'adventure' by physical contact. New law is good, but more importantly we need to awake the society. It is like a sleeping dragon. If it raised to the occasion and fight for the 'CHANGE' to change the attitude towards the women, then Nirbhaya will be the happiest. The brave girl from a distant will have a smile on her face and will feel proud that her pain, atrocity, death had actually woken up a careless nation. Not to forget, we had already seen glimpses of that! Now it's our turn to pay her tribute, not in paper but in practice too, not only by passing the law but also by standing on our own and combating the social evils.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Oh Nooooooooooooooo!! Bangla...

“To me, there’s no difference between French and Bengali!’’ a 13-year-old Bengali girl uttered these words in a most stylish way! She took great pride in the fact that she can’t read or write her own mother tongue!
Bengalis otherwise branded as an ‘educated and intellectual class’ has these exclusive characteristics of taking pride in not knowing their own language. ‘Banglata na thik ashena (I don’t know Bengali properly) is the most common feature of the urban youth, who don’t even know their favourite English in its actual form! There’s no denying that knowing the correct English is too important for communication, career etc. as it is considered the connecting language for both India & abroad!
But the irony is, ‘International Mother Tongue Day’ is the outcome of ‘Bhasha Andolan’ (Bengali Language Movement) which was fought by the students of the Dhaka University in order to recognise Bangla as the official language of Bangladesh (the then East Pakistan) against West Pakistani government’s imposition of Urdu as the official language of East Pakistan! Today is the 61st year of ‘Bhasha Andolan’ and Bengali has become the most neglected language and an ‘embarrassment’ for a large number of people in Kolkata itself! I am excluding the Diaspora chapters for some other connotations.
India too has experienced its own sort of language movement. Potti Sriramumulu’s ‘fast-unto-death’ and consequently his death sparked off the major re-shaping of Indian state boundaries. Sriramumulu demanded Telugu-speaking-state. Through the act of Reorganisation of the states, 1956, the old states were dissolved & new states were created on the lines of shared linguistic and ethnic demographics. Thus, Telugu speaking Andhra Pradesh, Malayalam-speaking Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Marathi-speaking Maharashtra, Gujarat and Punjab were created. Bengal never has to fight for its language, it was automatic but it is the state which has least respect for its native language.
In almost all the Indian states, learning the state-language is mandatory. Be it Maharashtra or Gujarat, Kerala or Andhra, you have to have learn the language of the state you are residing in. The exception is west Bengal, where Bengali is not even compulsory as third language! So it’s of no surprise that Marathis or Gujaratis, Punjabis or Tamilians or Malayalis have great pride for knowing their language! Bengalis are probably the only tribe who prefers English over Bengali while communicating in a social gathering! Showing-off has become a normal practice for most of the Bengalis! Parents feel satisfied if their kids get less marks in Bengali or if the school doesn’t teach Bengali at all!! Kids can’t be blamed for disrespecting Bengali, because this is the culture their parents are implanting in them! They are simply following the ‘global practice!’
Rabindranath Tagore believed, English should be skillfully and thoroughly taught as a second language, the chief medium of instruction in schools (and even in colleges up to the stage of the university degree) should be the mother tongue. He has four reasons for this belief: first, because it is through his mother tongue that every man learns the deepest lessons of life: second, because some of those pupils who have a just claim to higher education cannot master the English language; third, because many of those who do acquire English fail to achieve true proficiency in it and yet, in the attempt to learn a language so difficult to a Bengali, spend too large a part of the energy which is indispensable to the growth of the power of independent thought and observation; and, fourth, because a training conducted chiefly through the mother tongue would lighten the load of education for girls, whose deeper culture is of high importance to India. He holds that the essential things in the culture of the West should be conveyed to the whole Bengali people by means of a widely diffused education, but that this can only be done through a wider use of the vernacular in schools.
One must not misunderstand me, I am not telling that in name of saving own ‘cultural distinctiveness’, everyone should follow Siva Sena’s path, forcefully imposing alien languages to others, abusing other language speaking people. My point is simple; one must have respect for his own language! Caution is especially for the self-forgotten Bengalis, because ‘’Everyone loses if one language is lost because then a nation and culture lose their memory, and so does the complex tapestry form which the world is woven and which makes the world an exciting place…”. Even Gandhiji firmly stated, “Any nation that cherishes its individuality must love its own language and feel proud of it. The learning of English must come second to learning one's mother tongue.”
I am proud to be a Bengali. I am proud that I can read, write and speak in Bengali. I never feel ashamed of that. Some of the best literary creations of the world is in Bengali, great movies were made in Bengali by eminent film makers like Satyajit Ray, Mrinal Sen, Ritwik Ghatak. Noble Prize, for the very first time came to India for a Bengali, Oscar too followed the same path! One Bengali had unfurled his jersey at the Lord’s Balcony, innumerable examples are there! Still, most Bengalis don’t know their mother tongue, they feel ashamed in speaking in Bengali.
It’s a question for them… very recently Bengali bashing has been a regular practice in most places of India. Don’t they think that actually their disrespect for their own language has actually widened the path for this insult? Have they ever thought that each Indian has to sing two Bengali songs, namely Jana Gana Mana’ and ‘Vande Mataram’ at least once in their life?
Now,take a look at our neighour. The Morning Star of the Language Movement, this year have chosen to 'celebrate' the occasion on a different note. In a close affinity with the Arab Spring, Shahbag Square is burning bright with the candles. The war-cry being 'hang the 1971 terrorists'. 'Amar Ekushe' (21st February forever)is the driving force of Bangladesh. They know, they fight for a cause, unlike India where one Nirbhaya Case shook the conscience of the nation and within weeks die down! Bangladesh knows how to ensure justice, we must take a cue from them! I am sure 90% of the people would give a blank look if you ask the significance of the date!
Wake up Bengalis… we must not forget our very own Bangla! After all, ‘amar bhaiyer rokte rangano ekushe February/ ami ki bhulite pari?’ (My brother has shed blood on 21st, how could I forget that?). Let’s think of those young, brave boys and then look at ourselves. I can assure, if we have emotions, we will feel pity and ashamed for ourselves only! The 'sweetest tongue' is allover my body and soul...('Amar Bhitor o Bahire, Anatare, Anatre Achho tumi Hriday Jure' the immortal lines by Rudra Muhammad Shahidullah, penned during the Bhasha Andolan), so let's embrace it. No shame in knowing your own language!