If you are a Bong growing up outside of Kolkata, especially up north, you have always stood apart in any kind of group while growing up. While she never asked you to do 16 Somwar ka vrat, your battles with your mother were different. Here are 11 things every Bengali mother says which got your goat at some point of time in your life…
This is list is a note to self from not falling into the same trope.
1. Ei pronam kor
Meaning touch their feet and get their blessings. A traditional way of showing respect to elders. However, you are expected to act on this order at most arbitrary places – railway stations, Durga puja pandals, shopping markets and do this for random strangers whom your mother had last met 20 years ago, perhaps in a DTC bus. Or to her third, fourth, fifth cousin’s mother-in-law… You get the drift… Pronam kora involves bending from your waist and touching the other person’s toes and wait till they have put their hand over your head. DO NOT confuse it with Panjabi PP (Pairi Pauna), you cannot touch the knees of a Bengali who swears by their Maachh Bhaat and expect them to bless you. Should you do that, you will get an earful about Panjabi Culture. And remember, your gender and marital status do not exempt you from an ei pronam kor.
2. Boro hoye gecho emni korte neyi
Every Bengali kid has heard this since they start comprehending the language. Meaning you are too old to behave like this. This can come at you for shaking your leg while sitting at a high chair, for throwing a fit for wanting a toy, arguing as a teenager for not being allowed for a pyjama party or telling your mom that you don’t want to go to work because your boss sucks. Her response is going to be the same, with a stoic expression.
3. Tupi poro, sweater poro, Jacket poro:
A Bengali mom is forever feeling cold on behalf of everybody and her kids are pretty high up on that list… So, come December this is what you hear every day. You better bring out your monkey caps….
4. Eto thanda ice cream kheo na!
OK, this one is my personal favourite, meaning the ice cream is too cold for you to eat. Ahem! It is ice-cream mom! She will always tell you to melt your ice cream before having it. Same goes for cold drinks! (aerated beverage, milkshakes, cold coffee). And every time you will catch the seasonal flu it will be the last ice cream or cold drink you had which triggered it, or maybe because you slept with the AC on, the virus (in a pre-COVID-19) world had nothing to do with it.
5. Classey phast (first) ke holo?
Academic achievement is very close to every Bengali’s heart. She is no exception – after all, the onus of making you the class nerd is on her; so who stood first in the class and by how many marks did he or she beat you is very important. All our grandfathers often had double MAs, studied till they literally burnt the midnight lamp, before the partition took everything away from them. So, a DDLJ kind of scene where a father celebrates a son flunking and buys him Euro rail tickets NEVER EVER unfolds in a Bong household.
6. Rekhe dao pore karur kaje lagbe
Don’t throw, we can give it to someone who might need it. A very middle-class value, but which means that in a Bong household there is hardly any place for new things apart from books. The flip side of this “rekhe dewa” or keeping aside is it can be a piece of badly written poetry which may embarrass you by showing up 15 years later. In my case, it is all my report cards and I swear I don’t want anybody to see how consistently poor I was in maths. The bright side is my son rode the same tricycle I and my sister did.
7. Chhuti mane porashuno bondho?
Reprimand, holidays mean no studies? Porte bosh meaning sit and study are her favourite words once you are in secondary school till you sit for your board exams. These two lines are used as punctuation irrespective of what you are doing at any given point of time. Another variety when holidays are over is shondhe hoye geche, ebar porte bosh meaning it is dusk now you should sit and study. All these have no relation to actually what you are doing at that point of time.
8. Maach na khele buddhi hobe na!
You won’t be brainy if you don’t eat your fish. Honestly, your mother is already there to make sure that you complete your homework and be the geek. Not sure about the role fish has to play in it. It is weird how most bong kids already get specs even before they clear the threshold of the school.
9. Durga pujo e bari aashbi na
What you will not come home for Durga Pujo! Now, you have grown up and are living away from home, either because of work, studies or maybe you got married and went to a different city, probably you were home just last month, but hell will break loose if the answer to this question is a no. You will again hear some more about Panjabi culture, and more about boro hoye gecho etc…
10. Kothaye aachis? Kaar saathe aachis? Kokhon phirbi?
She is the human GPS who tracks you – where are you? With whom? And when are you returning? She can ask this even when you are not in the same city and you are married and out with your husband or wife.
11. Panjabi culture!
Not just your love for Rajma Chawal but anything that she doesn’t understand is blamed on Panjabi culture. It maybe why she doesn’t give you parantha for lunch, why she doesn’t understand chiffon and georgette sarees and prefers crisp cottons, your choice of clothes, preference for a certain kind of music, not wanting to eat Sandesh, not believing in giving pushanjali for Durga puja…. Why you think Bengali boys are mamma’s boy, etc., etc., etc…
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