Ayesha S. Mahmud
I love my mother-tongue-
Bangla (forgive me for not calling it Bengali!), and I take a lot
of pride in being a Bangali. The best thing about knowing Bangla is
that it isn't really a very common language. I love being able to
converse freely, in Bangla, about any topic in the middle of a crowded
public place whenever I go abroad. Can you imagine the joys of being
able to gossip freely, in a bus or subway train, about all the unusual
is hard for me to imagine why anyone, who knows Bangla, would choose
to talk in any other language. Having attended an English-Medium school,
all my life, I was forced to talk in English at school. I was never
really good at Bangla and it would be fair to say that it was probably
my worst subject throughout my school years. Despite all my failed
exams and desperate struggles to grasp the grammatical concepts of
the language, I fell in love with the language. Naturally, it really
annoys me whenever I hear someone distorting the language. Consider,
for example, a TV program I was watching the other day. It was a musical
show featuring some relatively unknown bands. I was horrified to discover
that not only did they not have any musical talents, they were completely
ruining the language. It was almost like hearing a British trying
to talk in Bangla! Such blatant abuse of the language is simply outrageous.
Where do these people get their silly accents?
The other day,
at a fast food joint, I was surprised to hear a seven year old talking
to his parents in English. Talking in English at school is quite justified,
since it is important for children to learn good English. But I really
cannot understand the reason why parents would encourage their children
to talk in English outside school. These children will grow up with
very little knowledge or love for their mother-tongue. But can you
really blame them? Many teenagers, nowadays, prefer not to speak in
Bangla. Some even proclaim it to be "uncool".
I must confess,
at the risk of sounding like a hypocrite, that I have never been interested
in many aspects of my language. I was never really interested in Bangla
books and only read those that were forced upon me at school. I like
Bangla songs, but I would prefer a Beatles song over any Rabindra
Sangeet. My Bangla writing skill leaves a lot to be desired. Yet,
I have come to appreciate the joys of being able to speak in Bangla.
I am proud of my Bangla heritage and I am grateful for simply being
able to talk in Bangla.
Spirit of Ekushey
According to poet
Sufia Kamal, when a human being is born on the soil of a country and
thrives within the environment of that country his mind gets food
for thought from the environs of that country. His mind expresses
itself through the literature, art and culture of that country.
So first we have
to know the language, literature and culture of a country. One has
to know his language, his culture and his literature, things that
are the basic elements of his nationality. Let us today dip our minds
a little bit into the history of Bengali language and literature.
You might know
that Chorjapod the most ancient evidence of Bengali literature, a
two thousand-year old anthology of poetry, which was found from the
library of the Royal Court of Nepal. In the ancient times the Buddhist
Emperors of the Pal Dynasty patronized Bengali. But in the successive
periods Bengali language had to survive the reigns of the strictly
Brahmin Sen Dynasty. I said 'survived' because as a language of 'prakrito
jon' or the common people Bengali had to bear the pressure of Sanskrit,
the royal language of that time.
The Sen Emperors
were keen to use Sanskrit as the language of the scriptures and literature.
As a result Bengali was banished from the Royal Court. Bengali was
banned as a language of the scriptures by a Royal Decree. But the
popular language flourished among the common people.
After the Sen
period, Bengali flourished in the reign of the Sultani period. In
the Sultani period the rulers were sultans of Turkish origin but they
were the greatest patrons of Bengali language and literature. The
sultans of the Ilias Shahi and Hossain Shahi dynasties were very eager
for the development of Bengali language. At this time under the patronization
of the Sultans and their high officials many books including Mahabharat,
Ramayan and Bhagabatgeeta were translated into Bengali from Sanskrit.
As Bengali was the language of the common people when these were translated
into Bengali the general populace was able to fathom the contents
of the great holy books. Along with Sanskrit, Bengali became the language
of the literature. Sultan Borbok Shah, Sultan Hossain Shah and Sultan
Ghiasuddin Azam Shah were patrons of Bengali literature. It is said
that the Turkish reign in Bengal was a boon for the Bengali literature.
Pakistani period that followed, was just a facsimile of the Sen period.
According to the Abdul Karim Shahitto Bisharod if the ruling class
tries to ruin the language of the nation then they cannot remain in
power for long. Soon after the termination of the British Raj the
Pakistan Government tried abolish Bengali from the administrative
language and to impose Urdu on us. Bizarre proposals like writing
Bengali in the Arabic and Urdu scripts were presented to the Bengali
These unwanted pressures on our mother tongue led to the Language
Movement of 1952. We all know what happened on the 21st February so
I will not reiterate. What we always have to know is that our language
is an ancient one. It is not easy to erase a language that is two
thousand years old. The apathetic Pakistani rulers forgot this but
in the end they had to concede the truth and they had to accept Bengali
as the state language of Pakistan. Here lies the spirit of Ekushey.