“Happy new year, dada!”
“No, it’s Subho Noboborsho.”
“Su… bho…” The five-year-old from a English medium school had trouble spelling the words but his brother was there to help.
“Noboborsho,” he corrected patiently.
The younger boy didn’t understand the difference back then, but he would… one day, he would, when the flow of Bong blood in his veins intensified, when he would feel a kinship with the land of his birth; he would understand the meaning of the words. He would understand the significance of what being a Bengali meant.
He would understand the difference between going shopping for clothes and sweets with all the money gifted by his relatives, and buying fancy greeting cards to gift his friends… of the difference between the first day of a new year and ‘Pahela Baisakh’.
He would know the unity that is forged between Bengali Hindus and Muslims and of ‘Bangal’s and ‘Ghoti’s on this day.
He would shiver as he is forced to take a dip in the river Ganges by his grandparents and wish for the new clothes that he would wear soon after, and the ‘payesh’ that would stain his taste buds.
He would listen as his grandparents told him of the times they celebrated ‘Poila Baisakh’ and how his parents did it. he would probably realize how the decades have managed to alter the manner of celebrations but not the spirit. he would peek at the laddus near him while his family members prayed to Lakshmi and Ganesh.
He would be introduced tho the mysterious world of social networking and then, when it would remain mysterious no longer – he would see the wishes of ‘Poyla Baisakh’ flooding his newsfeed. He would send and receive online wishes for the same.
He would know the joy of wearing new clothes, a joy intensified on this holy day.
He would probably search up the history of ‘Pahela Baisakh’ and realize why his father used to draw the ‘swastika’ on the first page of his accounting books. He would secretly climb on the stool and take down the new calendar and hang the new one. he would probably do this despite his mother’s warnings of how dangerous it was for him to use the stool without adult supervision… because why not? This was a new year and he was a ‘big boy’.
He would finally get the well-deserved break from studies he had been waiting for, for the last few weeks. He would rejoice with his friends and watch the annual function of his neighbourhood… he would get the chance to showcase his talents on the wooden stage as the sound of applause rang out into the humid air.
He would do all this and more, thought his brother, as he watched him trying to spell ‘Noboborsho’, His brother knew, because he had experienced it all too.