I am an average university-going Bengali female who writes feisty statuses about dismantling the patriarchy and shares Imaan Sheikh’s brown feminism posts. But in real life, I live with a family full of old people who constantly try to control and demean me. So I chose to take my rants one step further, by writing about my family members’ ancient mentalities on a website that doesn’t pay me but loves me very dearly.
Let us begin this analysis of crazy Bengali families by taking a look at their opinions on dating. There are two types of families – ones that choose completely ignore the fact that their younger generation might ever choose to date, and ones that choose to become obsessed with the kids’ love lives.
The first type is actually better, because even if they accidentally find out, they will turn a blind eye. I mean, really, who wants to go through awkward conversations about prem-bhalobasha (and other things that come with it) with their kids?
“Son, I saw you fapping to Sokina over Skype the other day, and I must say you’re doing me a concern.”
“Wtf, mom. Why are you talking to me about this.”
“Oh shit that’s right. I raised you without any proper sex education and you think life is a porn movie and I must not ruin this perception of yours. Date her bang her. Do whatever you want. I don’t care as long as you pretend to be a lokkhi chele and just get married by the time you’re 28.”
These families pretend not to know anything about their child’s love life unless or until their son/daughter expresses an interest to get married to the person they’ve been dating. Their reactions to that is a whole other ballgame.
Now, I am all for being open with the family. Keeping secrets is a tiresome job. But in most cases, family members turn into a cross between Komolika and Mufassil Islam upon finding out about your s. o. You may think it’s better if you just tell them instead of having them find out through fake Facebook accounts/a private detective/a snake disguised as a friend, but trust me, it does not make any difference how they come to know about it.
What matters is that you date someone, which absolutely goes against the values your devout Bengali family has taught you. If anyone ever finds out that you were in a rickshaw with someone with the hood up, it will bring more shame to your family than your private university-going, GPA 5-missing ass ever did.
“Mom, dad, I wanted you to know that I have a girlfriend. I don’t want you to find out from someone strange and awkward so I thought I’d tell you myself.”
“Shombhranto poribar er chele ra eshob kore na. Tumi graduate korle amra tomar cheye 8 bochor er choto ekti meye pochondo kore tomake biye koriye dibo. Ekhon eshob prem niye besto hoyo na, porashona-y mon dao. Amar chele lokkhi baba.”
“Hi, mejho khala, is there a Pubali Bank ATM near your house?”
“Haha no but on a more relevant note I saw you on a rickshaw the other day.”
“Haha no I can’t tell you that but on a more relevant note, pola ta toh gazakhor.”
“And since we’re on the topic, tui eto mota toke pola tar pashe khalamma-r moto lage.”
All characters mentioned here are completely imaginary and any resemblance to anyone is purely coincidental, but let me tell you, coincidentally, this khala person may or may not weigh over 80 kgs, in addition to being a frustrated housewife in her 50s who makes it her job to stalk her nieces and nephews with repeated attempts to get them busted in some way. You parents might be cool with you dating people, but your extended family will continue to give you trouble until the day you die.
Some parents take this really well. These parents are usually the ones who had a rebellious love marriage in the previous century, defying all societal norms. Or maybe they’re just sensible, understanding adults who trust their kids to not get pregnant. On this relevant note, let me end this rant with a true story.
“Tumi toh prem koro, taina?”
“Hae how did you know?”
“Eije kalke dekhlam Rabindranath er prem er gaan shunteso”
“Good tomar toh emnei friend nai kono, prem korteso bhalo hoise.”
“Chele tar cgpa bhalo?”
“Good. Room ta guchhao.”
Cover design by ObviousNoodles.