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Celebrating International Mother Language Day with Self Reflection and Reclaiming One’s Bangladeshi Identity

mother language day
3 min read

Song Offerings

Since we moved to Canada, my mom has wanted to go back to Bangladesh. And she’s not the only one. If you look around Toronto’s Danforth area, popularly known as Banglapara you’ll find a community of people indulging in the nostalgia of Bangladesh. At times I hear people talk about their struggles each day in this foreign land sipping ??/tea and how they are only getting by with the understanding that when they have enough funds they will go back to their homeland.

And then, at other times I overhear people at grocery stores like “??????” conversing about the current unliveable situations in Dhaka and how glad they are to be here.

And then I think about myself. I think about my dreams at night about my house in Bangladesh. A house that was demolished to construct a brand new apartment building. A house that once was home and now is just another brick construction. But when I wake up in the morning with that churning in my stomach, a longing for home. A bad case of homesickness, a feeling of isolation, a feeling of absolute dismay.

I then put the Rabindra Sangeet (songs by Rabindranath Tagore) on my player:

Phoole phoole dhoole doodle bohe ki ba mridubay.

 

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My favourite Rabindra Sangeet

How I interpret my favourite songs for self-reflection, reclaiming identity, self resolve, and for the urge to return to nature.

Phoole Phoole

Once in high school, I accompanied my parents to a concert of renowned Rabindra Sangeet singer Swagatalakshmi Dasgupta at Dhaka club. The crowd comprised of most people in their late 40’s and me. After a few renditions, she invited the audience to accompany her. The entire audience then sang and hummed to Phoole Phoole. It was nothing short of spectacular. The song is a celebration of spring. It talks about how the blooms sway with the spring breeze. It makes Bengalis happy. So it’s my go-to happy song. A song that helps me reconnect with the simplistic beauty of nature and life.

 

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Akash Bhora

When I first moved into my dorm room I wanted something to remind me of my purpose in life.

So I carried around with me a quote janar majhe ajanare koreche shandhan,” “I’m looking for what’s unknown in the known.” The song talks about the complexity of life and it’s vastness and us in the middle of it all. There’s a certain abstraction in this song that I’ve grown fonder over the years. Earlier, the song gave me a purpose. And now, it’s a way of reclaiming myself. A reminder that my identity is true to my experiences.

Ami Kan Pete Roi

Imagine if you and your mind were two different beings. Ami kan pete roi captures this idea of separation between mind and body. A mysticism surrounds this idea as the song questions “k shey mor k e ba jane?,” “who is he to me, who know?” The mind and body, while operating in parallels, are still separate beings. To me, it brings me to question who the real me is? One that is on the exterior or the one on the interior.

 

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Aaj e Bangladesher Hridoy

My dad who had encouraged me to read Rabindranath, in every conversation about the maestro of Bengali arts he says, “the man is beyond his time.” Now, as a literature student in college, I appreciate how Rabindranath is a feminist. He in this song draws a comparison between the beauty of Mother Nature to the beauty of a mother or the goddess Durga.

Rabindra Sangeet is how I connect to myself, introspect and reclaim my identity as a Bengali.

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