A way with words
I must say that I am delighted to be in the land of nuanced phrases, or statements that seem rather straightforward and innocuous when examined through the literal lens, when in fact they are verbal disguises to mask deep and convoluted thought processes.
Why delighted? Because they are food for chinta, and life is therefore so much more interesting.
Take for example, “recipe pathay diyo”; it is a roundabout way of saying “shut-up”, and not an earnest request to know how a dish has been prepared. It is uttered by women when they feel threatened that they are being usurped from the mantle of ideal wife: cook extraordinaire, by someone whom they never perceived as being a worthy contender.
So, when a (bechari) wannabe rising star good bou wishes to take centre stage and discuss her gastronomic creations, instead of the encouraging “amader please dawat diye ranna kore khawao”, she is met with the seditious and resistant “recipe pathay diyo”, or in plainer terms, darling, no one is interested.
While on the topic of good wife, chitkaar and kanna-kati can be positive traits, but only if they occur in relation to her suffering her way through marriage. If her husband is undertaking a perilous journey or endeavour, then the “chitkaar kore utha” followed by “kanna-kati korte korte shesh” will not only be appreciated, but expected, as they will demonstrate her overt concern. Hysteria is conflated with worry and anxiety, which in turn are associated with being norom, which in turn is an excellent virtue for a woman to possess. Remember, it is reactive and not proactive which is the ideal state of female being.
So then how does one react to “haat paa dhore maaf chailo”? With forgiveness and benevolence of course. Someone begging for reconciliation is a story to be shared with all, because it is a sweet victory. Who cares that the person rang or texted to clear up the misunderstanding, and that the haat paa were nowhere in sight or a few thousand miles away in another country. Please, these are such insignificant details when one is experiencing triumph.
Another country? Then what about living abroad? The problem with purapori bideshe thaka is that one cannot come to desh majhe majhe, and then the problem with intermittent visits to desh is that it leads to the speculation that one may not be living the immigrant’s dream of doing so well. Therefore, a thoughtful motamoti bideshe settled is good middle ground, as one can be relevant in both places. Plus that will ensure a lot of dawats and patta too..ooooh.
But please be cautioned that when you are in desh, “we must get together” will not evolve into a dawat. Instead, all your common friends will be invited, and they will happily accept the summons, and once the photos are posted on social media, it is expected that you will feel FOMO and give ‘likes’ in order to illustrate that you are in no way hurt at being excluded. Chin up!
And do not fall for a “please bashay esho” or a “do drop in anytime”. Sorry, but that is not an invitation either, even if it is insistent, as it is a trap to ensure you “gaye pore” show up with some devious intention and cause the hostess incredible inconvenience.
And on that inconvenient truth, I shall end my chinta!
Chintamoni grew up in Dhaka, where she will always belong, but never quite fit in. She is an enthusiastic traveller, a compulsive procrastinator, and a contumelious raconteur.
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