Sunday, March 25, 2007

Pora (Studies )

I have married into a large extended family with a lot of children and the mothers like all good bengali "MAAAs" are very constantly worrying about their child's "pora" (studies) and ensuring that each evening the little ones are dragged off (depending upon their moods at that specifc moment) either in complete miserable submission or kicking and screaming in pure rebellion to their books , so that they come back from school the next day with a "VERY GOOD" scrawled across their notebooks .

In all self-respecting Bengali homes, the children's "pora" (studies) is of paramount importance . Each mother considers her children's studies her prime duties. The most common refrain that a good Bengali mom is bound to utter is " Tubai/Rimli/Babai/Mamoni ekdomeiii porcheii na" loosely translated as "My child does not study " . All schedules in a Bengali household are arranged this concept of "pora " timings, bath,outings, visits, holdiays and even the job !

Tubai/Rimli/Babai/Mamoni's exams are considered a reflection of parenting success and their weekly test scores are studied with even greater intensity than the Sensex ! Outside any exam hall you will find scores of parents milling around with anxious faces wondering whether Tubai/Rimli/Babai/Mamoni is successfully downloading the " theory of relativity on paper"!

In spite of the historical background of such involvement of an average Bengali parent's in their ward's very average Bengali parents decided that I was to go to a Boarding School ! Their plan was greeted with howls of horror from our relatives and well-wishers about the adverse effects it would have on my "pora" and my entire "futre" was doomed.
The only one who stood by them was my Dadu. He doted on his only grand daughter and probably expected great things from yours truly and decreed that I had to go to the dreaded Boarding School !

At the age of 5 and a half , I was packed off (literally) to a boarding school in Darjeeling.

No matter what they say about it being easier to adapt to new situation when you are a child and things like is tough for 5.5 year old to actaully comprehend the sudden changes in her life especially when she cant express herself too well and is laughed at by her classmates for her funny pronouciation, so for the first month of her life in a boarding school she just cries and yells for her parents. It does not help that she has an unsympathetic matron who has lost interest in her because her parents have not given her enough tuck. Then the 5.5 year old's class teacher discovers that 5.5 is actually the only one in her class who can actually read complete books whilst her her other peers are still struggling with their alphabets and life becomes easier for her.

11 years later 5.5 graduates from her Boarding School as a 16-year old who is independent and adapting. Her relatives who had howled in despair now admire her "convent" English and gloat over her article (in English if you please) which appears in The Statesman supplement.
And her parents tell their friends and colleagues about the fact that they never accompanied their daughter to a single exam and yes she did scored very well at her boards.

It did help that my parents took a different approach to their daughter's "pora"


Damu said...

its gives real inspiration to read ur blog......,it shows a mark diff from the normal bong family that we r used to c.....,am sure that gave u lot of confidence and stamina to grow in life....
all the best for ur future

Aqua said...

...hey you left out ronny & mishti...almost all the bong kids i know are either a 'ronny' or a 'mishti'.

yeah...i remember looking wistfully at parents waiting outside my college gates (lady brabourne in dear ol' calcutta) during exams with "daab" and snacks. And during the lunch break, above mentioned parents would sit with their kids and feed them above mentioned edible items while misthi/mithoo continued to pore over their text books.

and turned out all right... inspite of being sent to boarding school....AND inspite of having me as a dorm mate in the last leg of yr boarding life hahahaha!