Ponderings of Pohela Boishakh
There is some magic about the Bengali new year. Its not just the sudden “Boishakhi Jhor” or the fresh scent of newly ripened mango. It's the idea of magic. Pohela Boishakh has always been the time when one can easily forget about the past and take a bold new step into future, armed with good thoughts and the idea of a new beginning. Sure we Bengalis like to make many a resolution on the eve of English New Year. But it's the Bengali New Year when we can really start to think about starting a fresh page in the book of life, a new story, a brand new chapter. The old chapters don't mean a thing any more.
The time couldn't have been any better than now to really make this magic take over. Bangladesh is going though a revolution. If one wanted to make a change, then there could not have been a better time than this. And there could not be a better opportunity than Pohela Boishakh to do a little magic in all of our lives. But for some it's not that easy. There are many who are burdened with grief and sorrow, of failures in the past and ponderings on the irreversible loses that has left us crawling. But if we follow some simple methods, its possible to make it happen.
Not resolution but vision.
We like to make resolutions. Some of them are downright silly as a resolution to make a new girlfriend, and some are serious as getting a job. But we don't just make resolutions in the Bengali New Year. We set ourselves a vision. Resolutions are too small and insigficant compared to the vastness of life. So this Boishakh, don't just make resolutions, set yourself a vision. Start dreaming about something that you want to achieve as a personal goal. On the Pohela Boishakh, wake up early. There is a reason why people start the day watching the brand new sun rise. It tells them that even the mighty sun sets, only to rise and give birth to a new day. So you too wake up with the sun, to give birth to a new vision. But don't just make these visions small as a resolution. Remember, you don't have to achieve it in just one year; you are setting yourself up for the rest of your life.
Give back to your country.
As I said before, Bangladesh is going through a revolution. Our war for independence from Pakistan is long over. Now we are fighting a war of independence from corruption and anarchy. And you are its best soldier. This Boishakh, many of you maybe starting a new hal khata (accounting book) as is the tradition in Bangladesh. This is the perfect opportunity to decide that you will from now on pay all your taxes and dues to the government. And also promise yourself that you won't give in to the pressure of money extortionists. It is tough, perhaps. But realize this. If you pay 10 taka to the government as tax, this money will multiply ten folds and come back to you, that too after helping so many poor find their feet. This is not just me speaking, but that's the theory of economy. About extortionists, you had to fight back someday. So start from today. Give back to your country, and also give back to yourself what's yours.
Of brothers and comrades.
We Bengalis have lost faith in people. If you are walking on the street and someone asks you the time, the chances are you will probably hasten your walking speed thinking of him as a goon. It is okay though, in a country which is full of terrorists and frauds, one needs to take care of himself. But we have lost something important in the process, The idea of unity amongst people. But look back only 35 years, when we the Bengalis stood shoulder to shoulder in the face of bullets. Our brothers or uncles had died, for which we live proudly now. So this Boishakh, go to Charukola, or anywhere where there is a procession. Don't be afraid of bombs or muggers or people. You are amongst your own brothers and sisters, and learn to trust the lot. You are not alone, you will see that everyone has the same fear as you, and as you will learn to embrace them, they will embrace you too.
Of culture and heart beat.
What was the song you last listened to on your car stereo or your iPod. It sure as hell wasn't a Tagore or Nazrul song. It wasn't a Bengali song at all. Our computers are full of English and Hindi numbers that we listen to and dance to everyday. We like to say that Bengali songs are boring and you can't dance to these tunes. Really? Have you gone to the Rabindro Sarobar in Dhanmondi or Ramna Botomul in the morning of Pohela Boishakh? Have you seen the sea of people, both young and old dancing to the dhoon of bangla? Have you heard the timeless lyrics spun by the wondering bard Lalon? Well, this Boishakhi, it's your chance to discover what you haven't. Our songs and dances and poems are not just about the Bengali culture, but about each one of us. So dance, dance as much as you can. It's your soul that will do the dance. For it's in every beat of your heart.
Bang a drum for tomorrow.
This Boishakh, I am going to enjoy myself. I am going to hold the hand of my beloved and watch the new sun of the New Year. We are both going to have a vision of a future as bright and as clean as the first rays of the sun. We will promise never to go into corruption once we enter our professional lives. Every year we will set ourselves the target to give something back to our country. Then we will join the masses of thousands of friends and smear ourselves in their colour. We are going to dance and sing for a new Bangladesh. Where will you be? What will you do? Do not be left behind. This is your Boishakhi too. This is your Bangladesh too.
By Tanvir Hafiz (Monty Python)
A change of address
It was just another baking hot day. The temperature was at a burning 45 degrees Celsius, nothing unusual for a summer day in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. With the fan on full speed, I was reading a book instead of studying when my mom came in. She sat on my bed and took my hand. 'Sweetie, there's something you need to know. Your father and I have finally decided that it's time for us to move…to Bangladesh. For good.'
And that was when my young, 14 year old world came crashing down. Move? To another country? And that too to Bangladesh - a pollution, poverty and insect ridden country?? Why?
Those were my first thoughts. Don't get me wrong, I loved my country but the thought of moving to a whole new country, a whole new environment and saying goodbye to the place I grew up, with the friends I grew up, scared me out of my wits. Added to my fears were the problems I knew I would face once I moved to Bangladesh. Although I had grown up learning, reading, writing and speaking Bangla, I was nowhere near the level of fluency a Bangladeshi ought to have in their mother tongue. I also used to have the preconceived notion that in order to be accepted into any school in Bangladesh and among other teens there, I would have to be damn good in the language. And that freaked me out. For Pete's sake, I used to think that the word 'nikhoj' in Bangla, meaning missing, was a disease of the knee!
So you can understand why I was so averse to my parent's decision. Although I knew that this move was long coming I just didn't think they would take that final step. However, after my initial qualms, I started to think that this might be a good step for me after all; change is good right?. But all those optimistic thoughts of mine scurried away the moment I saw the plane take off from the runway and I remembered all the teary farewells and adieus of my childhood friends.
I never classified socializing as one of my fortes. And I won't even pretend that the whole process of making new friends and adjusting to a completely new environment was easy or simple. It wasn't even remotely so. I tried hard at the beginning to make friends; I tried being extra nice and friendly so everyone would like me but it didn't work. In fact some people tell me now that I had acted too friendly! I remember the backbiting, the rumours, the groups that existed in school and the ever present feeling that I wasn't welcome. And of course the sound of my peers making fun of my Bangla didn't make me feel any less insecure. But then I stopped trying so hard. I realized that it didn't matter what people said or thought about me. I was the way I was and no one had the right to make me feel that I had to conform in some way to fit their standards. And then slowly but surely, I made a niche for myself and started building my own world here in Bangladesh.
I realize how lucky I am to have the fantastic loyal friends I have now. I appreciate the comparatively greater freedom girls have here, their ability to be independent and their pride in being women. I enjoy the colourful metamorphosis of the Bengali seasons every year along with all the insects you can throw in. I savour the taste of piping hot bhapa pithas on cold winter evenings and yearn for the first refreshing drops of rain, at the beginning of Borshakal, on my face. I love seeing the merry smile on the small girl's face on the side of the street when I buy candies from her. But the most of all I revel in the lovely feeling of being able to talk comfortably in my very own mother tongue, compared to two years ago when I used to be afraid of opening my mouth to talk in Bangla in the fear of saying something stupid. I now no longer have to be ashamed of missing out on such a musical language.
Adjusting is hard but in end it all works out. Time is an important factor and as it goes by, you gradually get to understand yourself better as well as the people and things around you. After all, all's well that ends well.
By Nisma Elias
They seek a peaceful night,
By Kaushik Ahmed
Burried in My Graveyard
I stare at the dews of rose,
By faeza hasan
Depth of Suffering
I lay down my sorrows to forget you,
By Azmi Syed
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