Ami Bangali (I am Bengali)

Where are you from? That question is possibly the most familiar chorus I’ve heard my entire life. From people all over this country to those who speak my mother tongue. My question is where do I start? The early days when my khaki wrapped the shari around me and adorned me with gold necklaces bigger than my two year old body. To my uncles sneaking shondesh taking me to a heaven not sung in english. To the teep (bindi) placed on me at various events and kaacher churis (glasss bangles) clinking against themselves as I danced to Habib. Nupurs letting all of Bangladesh know I was playing in my Dada’s bharinda. The aroma of the traditional dishes from maach, daal, bhaath to malai chingri my mother presented us with. My dad calling me from the living room, “Mow-tushi, ekane asho” to my uncles hugging me as they lovingly asked me “Mamuni, tumi khecho?” To my entire gushti begging me to cool my temper, “Arey baba, etho raag?” To my mom threatening to put thanda pani (cold water) all over me to get rid of the attitude.

I was painted by the rhong (color) of Bengali culture and traditions. Eyes made of amber & onyx. Dipped in holud (tumeric) and shuna (gold). Weaved in the melodies of Rabindra Sangeet. Graced my body to flow to the rhythms of Bengal. Learned to speak as if mishti was curated from my lips. Bhondu, when you ask me, Tumi ki Bangali? Bangla bhlolthe paro? How do I answer you with a simple yes? When my roots flow effortlessly all the way to the vibrancy of Kolkata (Calcutta).

Love,

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