When you cannot make room for the five daily prayers perfectly assigned to the different phases of the day depending on the position of the sun (before sunrise, at noon, in the afternoon, after sunset and at night) you know your life is imbalanced, and you are not giving yourself proper care and love.
There comes a time in the life of the people who have lived in several completely different worlds with different rules and values when they start looking at everything as if they are outside of all of it, as if they’re watching many different movies playing in front of them at the same time. In one movie cities are burning, people are devastated, traumatized, in another movie a professor is writing an equation on the board with the students paying such knife-sharp attention as if that equation is all that there is in the world, and maybe in a third movie there are music and dances, love and bitching about one another, cooking and shopping, laughter and crying over matters that would be forgotten in minutes. These *outsiders* know that people have limitations; they have either chosen or have been placed there to be part of one movie or another, and so the outsiders don’t generally judge any of the movies or the people in the movies to be intrinsically *good* or *bad*; in fact the concepts of good and bad outside of the movies are not as clear and strongly defined as they are in the movies; these concepts are pretty blurry outside. The interesting thing is, once a person has become an outsider it’s impossible for him to ever return to completely being part of any one of the worlds/movies spontaneously without being conscious of it. The outsider consciously knows what movie he has to be a part of for what limited period of time, and when he has to move out of the movie, enter a different movie, or go back to his complete outsider mode. Once inside a movie, the outsider does choose to define certain things to be good and certain other things to be bad, just like choosing certain rules and strategies to play a game, consistent with the goal he wishes to achieve. The goal of this outsider, even when inside a movie, is generally never the same as the goals of the ones unconsciously playing their parts in the movies; the goal of the outsider is always linked to the outside world he belongs to, outside of all of these, and thus his definition of success and failure is generally never the same as the definition of those who unconsciously play their parts.
“He must become greater I must become less.“
- Prophet Yahya ibn Zakariya (John the Baptist)
Shohoj kothay eta hagu bishoyok golpo, ebong shei golper shonge kichhu upolobdhi.
ekdin oti shokale amar roommate eshe janalo toilet kaj korchhe na, shokaler tarahuray kothata kane dhuklo na. kichhukkhon por gosol korte kapor-chopor towel nie bathroom dhuklam. Toilet er dike takiye mejaj kharap hoye gelo, emon bhoyaboho obostha keno, amar roommate-er kothata mone porlo. jani je flash-e chap dewa ta khub ekta budhhiman er kaj hobe na. jei kaj nishiddho shei kajer proti manusher borabori tibro akorshon koutuhol, mone holo jodi kaj kore? dilam flash-e chap. er pore ghotona ja holo ta keo tar bhoyabohotomo shopneo konodin dekhbe bole mone hoy na. toilet upche je shudhu pani ber hote thaklo ta na, er bhetorer jabotio kothin torol bayobio bostu upche porte laglo, dekhte dekhte puro bathroom-er mejhe shei bostu-te soylab hoye gelo ar ami shei sroter majhe haa kore dariye thaka chhara kichhui korte parlam na. norar khomota hariye felechhi, kadteo parchhi na. hotath kheyal korlam shei torol podartho bathroom chhere amar bedroom-e dhoka shuru korchhe, bedroom-e wall-to-wall carpet. tonok norlo, doure gie (bola uchit shatre gie) towel die toroler jatra poth chapa dilam, konoi labh holo na, ek towel die ki bonna atkano jay? upayantor na dekhe amar jabotio porishkar kapor ja gosoler por porar jonno enechhilam bonnar jole chhurte laglam. tao kono labh holo na. ondher moto hater kache porone ja ja pelam shob torole bishorjon dilam, shukna bostur modhhe shudhumatro chultai baki roilo. ami haa kore dariye khali charidike takachhi. Ya Allah e ki gozob, Ya Allah amon obosthao manusher hoy. hotath mathay kichu ekta bole uthlo, kemon obostha? ami nijei uttor debar cheshta korlam kemon obostha. bhasha khuje pelam na, asholei eta kemon obostha? kharap obostha? keno kharap obostha? charidike takalam, takiye hotath pelo prochondo hashi, hagu panite dariye atta kapano hashi. mathay tape recorder er moto bajte shuru korlo, jibon jokhon tomake gu panite dara korabe tokhon tomar kaj gu panite dariye thaka, charidike takie er kodorjo dekha, mon die dekhle kodorjo ektu por chorom ek koutuke porinoto hobe. tokhon tomar kaj shei koutuk upobhog kora, ar tarpor nishthar shathe shei hagu pani porishkar kora. odhikansho khetre nijer borjo-i porishkar korte hobe; kokhono kokhono abar onner ta korte hobe. nijer hok ar porer hok shobi eki jinish, kaj holo porishkar kora, kore jao. moner shukher shathe ei kajer parotopokkhe kono dondo nai. drishtikon bodlale moner obosthao bodlabe. hagu hok ar hira hok shobi shesh porjonto shei onu poromanu electron diei toiri, tumi nijeo shei eki jinish.
manusher jiboner protita obhiggotar bhetorei onek rokom bekkha onek gupto shikkha thake. jiboner ekek shomoye proyojon onujayi shei ekek shikkha shamne eshe hajir hoy, manushke poth dekhay. aj jokhon sherokomi ek kodorjer majhe gola obdhi dube moria hoye poth khuje berachhi tokhon ashar alo dekhanor jonno hagu bishoyok ei bhoyaboho obhiggotar proti janai prandhala kritoggota.
boro eka ami -
nijer chhayar moto
nishshongo brikkher moto
nirjon nodir moto
bichchhinno diper moto
mouno paharer moto
ajibon shaja-prapto dondo-prapto ashamir moto
boro eka ami
(ekta gan theke nea – nirjone boshe protteker nijer mone upolobdhi kora chiroshotto koyekta line)
So after a long time I bought today one of those Martinelli’s non alcoholic apple cider bottles that looks like a champagne bottle and it reminded me of a few good times I had some three years back when I first discovered it. My roommate at that time introduced me to it and being muslims we had to have some fun with it by watching other muslims’ reactions seeing us drinking from that bottle. Those of you who don’t know: muslims don’t drink (or are not allowed to drink by religious laws) and it is considered as a serious misdeed in muslim societies.
Our first experiment was when we went to one of our friends’ birthday. We brought a cake and with it, of course, one of those Martinelli’s bottles. My friend opened the door. “Happy Birthday!!”, we gave her the cake. Now the champagne looking thing needs some introduction because she’s staring at it. “Well…you see, it’s your birthday…and we thought…you know…doing it (drinking) only a few times maybe doesn’t really count..” She’s still staring. We continued, “well it’s not a big deal…you know just for one day…and we already bought it…so…” She’s still staring with confusion, and now also making some sounds like – “eh?…no…what?…kidding me?…lier…no noo…eh?”.
Seeing her reaction to it we now had to tell her the truth before the situation gets really awkward where she starts crying/kicks us out, or simply just agrees to drink and gets super excited about it ;)….(plz don’t kick me when you read this, I’m sure you wouldn’t agree to drink ;))…But I now kinda think it’d be more interesting if had we extended the lie a little further :).
The next time I got to see people’s reactions wasn’t intentionally planned at first. I was just sitting after a long tiring day while enjoying some music and trying to open the bottle of my favorite apple cider without a bottle opener when my mom came online (yea she comes online to talk to me). I turned on my webcam and that’s when the idea came to my mind. “How’s everything”, I asked my mom with a particular tone intended to show that I’m in a bad mood, and then opened the Martinelli’s bottle in an impatient manner, took a tall transparent glass and started pouring the cider into it. Then I took a few sip, put the glass away sighing loudly several times while doing all these and asked “how’s everything” (or something similar) again.
She said, “What’s that?”
- What’s what?
- The thing you’re drinking.
- What do you mean nothing?
- Nothing!……ahh what the Hell…who cares….yes I am drinking!… Okay?
The whole time I was eagerly waiting to see her reaction knowing for sure that she’d be outraged. Now after hearing my answer, she replied,
- hmmm.. nice!…so what does it taste like? (with a hint of curiosity in her voice)
- What??….. ha??
I am so confused! Is that really what she’s saying?….yea no doubt, she definitely knows. But I still said,
- Mom! How can you ask me that!?? How can you not even care if I drink?!
- Do you think I don’t know you enough after raising you for so many years? I don’t know what that thing is that you’re drinking, but after considering the probability of you suddenly start drinking alcohol and showing it to me on a webcam, do you really think I can’t figure out that you’re definitely not drinking what you’re saying you’re drinking, idiot.
My mom is pretty awesome and so my mission of seeing her reaction failed.
But my acting skill at that time was actually pretty good and the proof is my two friends who came online right when I was talking to my mom. So now I did the same thing with them that I did with my mom, separately, (and now I acted a little more drunk), and the following is how our conversations went:
Friend 1 (the emotional one, living in Malaysia):
- OMG, Are you drinking???
- Why? Whyy?? oh God!
- noo reason.
- Did someone dump you? (yea, she actually said that lol)
- I mean did anyone hurt you or anything like that? What happened??
- I don’t know… Why are you asking weird questions, you’re giving me a bad headache.
- Farha, please for God’s sake tell me what happened?? Tell me…Are you ok??
- yes I am fineee! What’s wrong with you? Why are you pissing me offfff??
She kept annoying the drunk me from thousands of miles away in such a tone that she was sure something went terribly wrong with my life, and as soon as I tell her what went wrong, she’d instantly fly here like superman (or woman), solve all my problems, snatch the bottle away from me as fast as her super power allows, throw it into the pacific ocean, and thus, save my precious life.
Friend 2 (living in Bangladesh):
- What’s that?
- What do you think it is…hehe
- hmm….how does it taste??
- bad… not good.
- I thought so. Well, I actually heard so.
- I always wanted to try too. Like, not really drink drink, but just taste and feel a little bit to see how it’s like.
- really? (in my mind: you punk, you acted so innocent before, and Now you’re revealing your inner secrets after seeing me doing it… :))
- hmmm…yea well I wondered you know… so how does it feel?
- I don’t know….umm…whatever…you have to try it…
…I continued drinking
I later asked her what the explanation was behind her unexpected behavior. From analyzing her answer, this is what I got: She won’t ask you directly to give her an explanation when her level of confusion is too high. She’ll take her time and carry on an unemotional conversation while she tries to reason in her mind why you might be doing it. So what she came up with is that I might have found somewhere some logic that justifies drinking under the rules of Islam in certain circumstances, and I might be in one of those weird circumstances using the opportunity (!). So my confused smart-ass friend all this time was trying to pull information out of me to figure out how she should further react to this situation.
You guys just melt my heart and keep me entertained in so many strange ways that even my simple Mertinelli’s apple cider sometimes feels like alcohol when I think of you while drinking it.
I remember my mother reciting some of her favorite Rabindranath Tagore poetry when we were kids, most of which I didn’t really understand then. But now that I do, it is quite clear to me how Tagore’s writing had such tremendous influence on Bengali literature. Tagore’s brilliant word choices and smart word constructions (by joining two or more words in such a way that it perfectly expresses the emotion of the poem) have always made his poetry the most expressive and (at the same time) rhythmic it could ever get. The following is one of my (and I’m sure many of my fellow bangalis’) favorite poems of Rabindranath Tagore. Although any English translation can barely carry the flavor and feel of Bengali poetry because of the significant structural and cultural differences between the two languages, I’ve put here an English translation as well so that those who don’t know Bengali can at least get the basic idea of this poem.
Dui Bigha Jomi
Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941)
Shudhu bighe-dui, chhilo mor bhui, ar shobi gechhe rine
Babu bolilen, ‘bujhechho upen? e jomi loibo kine.’
Kohilam ami, ‘tumi bhu-shhami, bhumir onto nai –
Cheye dekho mor achhe borojor moribar moto thai’
Shuni raja kohe, ‘bapu, jano to he, korechhi bagankhana,
Pele dui bighe prosthe o dighe shoman hoibe tana –
Ota dite hobe.’ Kohilam tobe bokkhe juria pani,
Shojol chokkhe, ‘korun rokkhe goriber bhitekhani.
Shopto-purush jethay manush she mati shonar bara,
Doinner daye bechibo she ma-ye emni lokkhi chhara!’
Akhi kori lal raja khonokal rohilo mounobhabe,
Kohilen sheshe kruro hashi heshe, ‘achchha, she dekha jabe.’
Pore mash-dere bhite mati chhere bahir hoinu pothe-
Korilo dikri shokoli bikri mittha denar khote.
E jogote hay shei beshi chay ache jar bhuri bhuri,
Rajar hosto kore shomosto kangaler dhon churi.
Mone bhabilam, more bhogoban rakhibe na moho-gorte,
Tai likhi dilo bishsho-nikhil du-bighar poriborte.
Shonnashi beshe firi deshe deshe hoia shadhur shishsho –
Koto herilam monohor dham, koto monorom drishsho.
Bhudhore shagore bijone nogore jokhon jekhane bhromi
Tobu nishidine bhulite pari ne shei dui bigha jomi.
Hate mathe bate eimoto kate bochhor ponero-sholo,
Ekdin sheshe firibare deshe boroi bashona holo.
Nomonomo nomo, shundori momo jononi bongobhumi,
Gongar tir snigdho shomir jibon jurale tumi.
Obarito math, gogon-lolat chume tobo pododhuli -
Chhaya shunibir shantir nir chhoto chhoto gramguli.
Pollob-ghono amro-kanon, rakhaler khela geho –
Stobdho otol dighi kalojol nishith-shitol-sneho.
Buk-bhora modhu bonger bodhu jol loye jay ghore –
Ma bolite pran kore anchan, chokhe ashe jol bhore.
Dui din pore ditio prohore probeshinu nij grame –
Kumorer bari dokkhine chhari, broth-tola kori bame,
Rakhi hat-khola nondir gola, mondir kori pachhe
trishatur sheshe pouchhenu eshe amar barir kachhe.
dhik dhik ore, shoto dhik tore, nilaj kulota bhumi,
jokhoni jahar tokhoni tahar – ei ki jononi tumi!
She ki mone hobe ekdin jobe chhile doridromata
Achol bhoria rakhite dhoria folful shak pata!
Aj kon rite kare bhulaite dhorechho bilash besh –
Pach-ronga pata onchole gatha, pushpe khochito kesh!
Ami tor lagi firechhi bibagi grihohara shukh-hin,
Tui hetha boshi ore rakkhoshi, hashia katash din!
Dhonir adore gorob na dhore! Etoi hoyechho bhinno –
Konokhane lesh nahi oboshesh she diner kono chinho!
Kollanmoyi chhile tumi oyi, khudha-hara shudha-rashi,
Joto hasho aj, joto koro shaj, chhile debi – hole dashi.
Bidirno-hiya firia firia chari dike cheye dekhi –
Prachirer kachhe ekhono je ache shei am-gachh eki.
Boshi tar tole noyoner jole shanto hoilo betha,
Eke eke mone udilo shorone balok-kaler kotha.
Shei mone pore, joishther jhore ratre nahiko ghum,
Oti bhore uthi taratari chhuti am kurabar dhuum.
Shei shumodhur stobdho dupur, pathshala polayon –
Bhabilam hay, ar ki kothay fire pabo she jibon.
Shohosha batash kheli gelo shash shakha dulaia pachhe,
Duti paka fol lobhilo bhutol amar koler kachhe.
Bhabilam mone, bujhi etokhone amare chinilo mata,
Sneher she dane bohu shommane barek thekanu matha.
Henokal hay jomdut-pray kotha hote elo mali,
Jhutibadha ure shoptom shure parite lagilo gali.
Kohilam tobe, ‘ami tou nirobe diyechhi amar shob –
duti fol tar kori odhikar, eto tari kolorob?’
Chinilo na more, nie gelo dhore, kadhe tuli lathigachh,
Babu chhip hate parishod-shathe dhorite chhilen machh –
Shuni biboron krodhe tini kon, ‘maria koribo khun’
Babu joto bole parishod dole bole tar shotogun.
Ami kohilam, ‘shudhu duti am, bhikh magi mohashoy!’
Babu kohe heshe, ‘beta shadhu-beshe paka chor otishoy!’
Ami shune hashi, akhi-jole bhashi, ei chhilo mor ghote –
Tumi moharaj shadhu hole aj, ami aj chor bote ||
My Little Plot of Land
(From: The Daily Star, translated by Fakrul Alam)
Of my land only a little remained, the rest having been mortgaged away.
The zamidar (landlord) said one day, “Know what Upen? This too should come my way”.
I said, “O Lord, countless are the plots of land you already own,
But consider–I only have land enough to bury me when I’m gone!’
The zamindar brushed me aside saying, “Upen, I’m building a garden,
Your half-acre will allow me to design for it a lovely fountain–
You’ll have to sell it to me!” ……. I replied, tears in my eyes,
and hands on my heart, “Spare this poor man’s land, or else he dies!
For seven generations we’ve tilled this plot and it’s everything to me,
Selling it will be like selling my mother because of poverty!”
The zamindar reddened, kept mum for a bit, and then gave a peculiar smile
In a forbidding manner, he muttered under his breath, “we’ll see in a while!’
In six weeks I was forced out of my ancestral land and into the road
By a court decree. Falsely, it said I had defaulted on a loan and owed
The zamindar the whole lot! Alas, in this world those who have most want all
Even the king won’t stop until he has grabbed everything–big or small!
I consoled myself: God has decided not to confine me to this small plot of land;
Perhaps I am fated to roam far and wide and end up in some distant strand.
And so I became a mendicant’s assistant and followed him everywhere
Visiting shrines that were memorable and seeing sights that were fair.
But no matter whether I climbed high peaks or reached a remote river bend
The thing I could never forget night or day was my little plot of land!
And so I traversed country fairs, fields, and roads for fifteen years or so
Until homesickness made me feel to my country once more I must go.
I thought as I went: motherland Bengal–I bow to you lovingly!
Your exquisite riverbanks and gentle winds will surely revive me.
I’ll thrill at skies kissing dust swirling up from wide open fields,
I’ll seek in the sylvan shade of a tiny village an abode of perfect bliss.
Bengal’s shaded ponds will be calm and comforting to see
And surely I’ll delight at sweet village belles carrying water home daily.
Such thoughts of my motherland made me sad and tears welled up in me.
Two days later–at noon– I entered my village– oh so eagerly!
Past the potter’s shop and left of the field where festivals are held I sped
Leaving the fairground–site of all delight– and the temple ground,
I hurried to my homestead–thirsty, eager and completely exhausted!
Shame, shame, oh shame on you, my shameless little plot of land!
How is it that you yielded so easily to the seducer’s blandishment?
Don’t you remember how you once nurtured me with what little you had?
How you provided me with fruits, flowers and produce from your bed?
Who are you trying to seduce now in fancy and dazzling dresses?
Why deck yourself in alluring colors and flower-studded tresses?
It was for you I came back worn out by years of wandering
But you, wanton, are only bent on being coy and enchanting!
Riches enticed you and the landlord’s wealth made all the difference
Nothing remained of what you once were — a maiden in essence!
So bountiful and giving once, so caring, sweet and pleasant,
Seduce him all you can– once a goddess, now you’re a mere servant!
With a grieving heart I looked around and what then did I see?
Still erect where it always stood was my favorite mango tree!
I sat down and wept till tears doused the pain that was in me
One by one, images of childhood resurfaced in my memory.
How after summer storms I wouldn’t sleep at all,
Knowing I had to gather by dawn the mangoes sure to fall
I thought of still fun-filled afternoons when we played hooky
And I felt: what a pity that such days I will never again see!
Suddenly a gusting wind shook the branches of the tree
and two ripe mangoes fell on the spot where I happened to be.
Surely, I thought, my mother has finally seen her long lost son,
I picked up the mangoes she lovingly gave me on this occasion.
Suddenly, as if an angel of death, an Oriya gardener was in the scene
Hair in knot, this man swore and threatened in a way that was obscene.
I told him, “I gave up all years ago without protesting the court decree
Why fuss if I pick up two mangoes from what was my property?”
Unimpressed, the gardener seized me, directing his stick at my head.
Dragging me to his landlord, he complained to him about what I said.
The zamidar, egged on by his cronies, thundered, “You’re as good as dead!”
But his abuse was nothing compared to what his cronies had to say.
All I could say in defense was, “my lord, those mangoes fell my way.”
The zamindar said, “This scoundrel acts innocent but is a big thief!”
With tears in my eyes I laughed at being made the source of all mischief.
I laughed at my fate and at all those years I spent in grief
Indeed, he is the saint now and I am the thief!