Sunday, 21 February 2016

Under all my tongues, even when I am silent






You can hear it still, though it’s a bit blurred -
the richly perfumed soil, the dawn birdsongs,
miles of latticed waters, still reflections,
emerald  paddies, scents of mango orchards
ripening their fruits under mango-coloured suns;
you can hear the cadence of the mother tongue
every time I write here and speak, and even
when I am struck dumb, though I’ve never been
there – never inhaled those rains, animal dung,
lentil paste daubed into delicate pointy shapes
drying in the yard; never seen those landscapes
of drizzly bamboo groves quietly quiver
by the whip-thin track tumbling to the river. 







ভাষা আন্দোলন দিবসের অভিনন্দন, শ্রদ্ধা জানাই সব মাতৃভাষাপ্রেমীদের যাঁরা শহীদ হয়েছেন নিজের কথা নিজের ভাষায় নিজের মত করে বলার মৌলিক ও অপরিহার্য অধিকার অক্ষুন্ন রাখতে।





Today is the International Mother Language Day, originally observed in India and Bangladesh, and now the world over since the UNESCO declaration in 1999, to honour the right to speak and value one's own mother tongue.  A day of pride and celebration, and also sombre commemoration and reflection, for all native speakers of Bengali. And for language lovers generally, in which category I automatically include all writers/poets/bloggers. Happy Mother Language Day to you!






17 comments:

  1. What a wonderful initiative. Love it.
    Our indigenous population is in grave danger of losing many (most?) of their mother tongues. I hope the tide can be turned.
    And how I love your mango coloured, and flavoured rich tribute to home.

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    1. I hope so too. Language is an intrisic part of identity...sad to lose any language.

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    2. *intrinsic...need an edit button for the comments!

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  2. Hi Nila - being around the streets here ... plenty of languages abound; but we are losing the native tongues way too fast ... and yes language is an intrinsic part of identity ...

    ... You can hear it still, though it’s a bit blurred -
    the richly perfumed soil, the dawn birdsongs

    We will hear the dialects, but they will be very blurred ... and buried in the richly perfumed soil while the birds sing on ...

    Wonderful post - cheers Hilary

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    1. Traditionally, invaders have attacked the language of the vanquished, a sure shot way to demoralise and destroy latter...not all languages recovered from that, sadly

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  3. Beautiful! You captured that slice of home very well.

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    1. Thank you! The Bengalis have refined nostalgia to an art form :) and I was raised on generous portions..

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  4. Happy Mother Language Day to you Nila! Glad you were raised on generous portions of refined nostalgia...how beautiful! Boring old Oz...we only have one monolingual tongue, like the British and Americans. I really love travelling and talking to people are working to revive the mother tongue of their land. Some of the Australian Aboriginal tribes can speak up to 300 languages. Impressive!

    Denise :-)

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    1. Wow, 300 languages! That's seriously neat.

      Refined nostalgia can be a bit hard to manage sometimes :) it's great to belong to a culture that's so diverse, and of course I value that, but it has it's flipside as well. India has 22 official languages, innumerable dialects, with the potential for a lot of wrangling over the whys and wherefores of communication.

      Even within Bengali, there are diverse regional variations in the spoken dialects, so much so that two native speakers from different parts of Bengal may not even have understood each other in the past. But we have progressively lost that diversity as a kind of homogenised, urban spoken version has taken over. My grandmother for instance spoke a different version of the language from me, her particular dialect is now lost to my family :( It's always ineffably sad when we lose languages.

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  5. A lot of languages are disappearing every year, never to be heard again.
    I love how you give each poem you write a rich sense of place.

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    1. Yes, they indeed are, and the world community is much poorer for those losses. Glad you enjoyed the poetry.

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  6. Really nice poem. It flows well! I did not even realize there was such a day. Huh!

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    1. The protest that sparked it off dates back to 1952, actually. The basis for Bangladesh's separation into a sovereign nation, so the history is subcontinent based and even now probably observed more widely by non-English speaking/Eastern countries. Thanks for being here.

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  7. Nilanjana and yet if some do feel, see, smell, or taste those things do they understand? As always you have, and you do write well with heart and understanding, seeing what can't be seen, touching others with words that flow around the world for all to understand.
    Yet not all roads are straight for some of us and with so many curves out there I'm taking a break. I'll stop by now and then.

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    1. Wishing you back on straight, wide roads pronto. Have a good break.

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