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Poribortoner Chinta

  • Published at 11:23 am January 10th, 2018
Poribortoner Chinta
A few years ago, I found an old ‘friend’ on Facebook. She happened to be living in London too, and we planned to meet for lunch at a café in Central. I had not seen her since we had taken our GCSEs, since we were 16, and, as we were both approaching 40, I was rather looking forward to the meeting; off course I assumed she was too. We saw each other, we hugged, we sat down to eat. The predictable exchanges and exclamations of a reunion over a light lunch, followed by a penetrating ‘question and answer’ session over a rich dessert. She was asking, I was answering. Amongst a barrage of inquiries, she asked me why I had moved from Dhaka to London, why my husband had left his business prospects to search for a job, and whose decision it was to make the move. When I responded that we both wanted a change, and that we wished for our girls to spend a few years in the British public school system, she received my words with silence and a rather inscrutable expression. “My, you have changed!” was the best she could do after a long, pregnant pause. Her questions and her remark made me rather uncomfortable, but I was exhausted by then, and decided not to pursue the implications of her utterances. Later that evening, I was mulling over what all she asked and what she said, and I thought to myself how ridiculous the “My, you have changed!” was/is. Last we met, we were 16. I was an entrant in the Dhaka party scene, and like many girls that age, I wanted to be everywhere, to see and to be seen, and of course to be noticed by all the boys, especially the good looking ones. (I was a Madonna fan too and thought myself to be quite a rebel to hum her songs out loud). It seemed that image of me had remained in her mind, and that was what she was expecting me to be hitting 40! At 16, I did not have a husband, was not the mother of two teenage girls, was not interested in school league tables, so how could she even compare the 16 year old me to the nearing 40 me? Her remark reflected her assumptions, and her inquisitiveness was a yearning for an affirmation of her assumptions. She knew me well in my teenage years, therefore her knowledge of me had to absolute. What a ridiculous notion. Since that meeting, or interrogation rather, I make mental notes of such remarks, and unfortunately people utter them all too frequently. Suppose you say you establish a connection with person X, someone will remind you that you did not know him/her before. You state that you are not in touch with someone, and someone will remind you that you were once very close to the person. You wear a sari and someone will remind you about the time you wore a mini skirt (a hot pink one in my case). You come into some money and someone will remind you that once you had financial problems. You carry a designer bag and someone will remind you that once you could not afford one. You express liking for dal, bhaat, bhortaa, and someone will remind you ate a burger three times in his/her presence. You end a relationship and someone will remind you that you once loved the person. You become more religious and someone will remind you that you used to party. You take up a skill and someone will remind you of your academic abilities or lack thereof; and the list continues… Change is a part of life. We change emotionally, physically, spiritually, – we are meant to. We change deliberately, consciously, unconsciously, – we are meant to. We change our opinions and views and likes and dislikes and loves and hates because our perspectives change, because our circumstances change, because our situations change, – that is the way it should be. Therefore, a “My, you have changed” is no great discovery or revelation. It is just an expression of a myopic person confronted with her own irrelevant thoughts and anachronistic notions. Change is the constant in our lives. And change I shall… *I am aware that not everyone reading this will understand what I am trying to say, and some will be asking, “who was the friend?” :-)* 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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