My friend is a brilliant orator; even her most illogical arguments seem reasonable because of how she narrates them. She is the soul of all our gatherings, and inadvertently, her most favourite topic of conversation happens to be vociferous political rantings; which, in the moment, seem plausible or correct to even the otherwise least impressed.
But what I love most about her is how eloquently she recites verses, poetry, couplets; her powerful voice and her animated spirit bring to life the poets’ thoughts for us. She is one brilliant story-teller. Always on an extra dose of adrenaline — she loves life to its core, and her life-force is contagious.
However, this sweet soul, who is culturally so rich and highly knowledgeable and well read, has recently been ruined by acquiring the most blood cringing habits us common people have all absorbed. Spending half of the adda time or outings by taking pictures, instructing others on striking the correct poses, then a few minutes of cursing if there is no Wi-Fi, or if her 4G speed is somehow compromised, and another few minutes on writing a huge ‘mini’ blog to go with the photos, and then uploading them.
And all these activities must be done then and there, as if she is in competition with some invisible socialite. Once her self-dictated task is done, she just wants out, and in her illogically logical manner, justifies how she must go home right away — thus killing the adda!
When the soul of the adda is gone, everything else becomes, how should I put it, just not that fun anymore.
Now, if I may analyse the behaviour of my friend, I can safely say that 99 percent of us do this; we just get together to take photos and upload them and rush off to the next engagement. We no tlonger sit to listen to our friends, sing a Tagore, recite a verse from Gintanjali, or even play-act a few romantic odes to Amit and Labanya from Shesher Kobita. These practices of touching our roots and appreciating our culture, or any other culture for that matter, are almost extinct. Our cultural senses have gone numb, as if someone injected an anaesthetic; we tap to bhangras, but find a cello rendition at our ‘deshi’ wedding, or engagements boring.
Culture, I always feel, is geographically bound, yes, we do and we can appreciate all cultures of the world, but not at the cost of losing touch with one’s own.
We must understand and inject Lalon’s lyrics, or Nazrul’s rebellious writings and the life of Tagore’s literature into our children. At the same time, introduce them to Nemesis and Arbovirus, or Ayub Bachchu and James. They must know the dramatist Jamil Ahmed, and the brilliant poet Kaiser Huq, or read Maa by Anisul Haque.
Humayun Ahmed, Zafar Iqbal, Shamsur Rahman have cult followings with us, just like Jibananda, Bankim or Narayan Gangopadhay had, and we can reintroduce them back into our lives and our children’s as well.
We must take what’s ours wholeheartedly and then appreciate other cultures. #DeshiFirst and #DeshiAlways!
This year, Star Lifestyle, in its most humble manner, is trying hard to make our readers reach out to all things local — be it fashion, culture, cuisine, literature, or as mundane a thing as deshi toys.
So, the next time when my friend comes over for those yummy tiny shingaras that sell in the alley behind my house, I will treat her to tong er cha and give her a sugar high, and ask her to recite something, anything!
This week, Star Lifestyle is bringing to you its first instalment of four back to back month-long Baishakh joy and fun.