‘Ta-ta’ was the first word I ever spoke. Childish language and a childish smile from the cute little you can see as my graffiti made the word sound melodious. God knows why I got attracted to the word as such. Did I understand the meaning of that simple sound?Was it the melody of the repeating ‘Ta’ that attracted me? Or was it any other psychology in me that wanted to get away from people? All I know that when my mother used to bid all the numerous visitors who visited us good-bye she would carry me to the door in her arms and would say as they climbed down the stairs ‘ta ta’ which means good-bye in Bengali. Maybe it was then that I picked up the disyllabic sound and would repeat it every time the staircase came in view. I always bid good-bye to an unknown entity.
I wonder how a child learns to speak a language.He sees his father pass on the water bottle when the mother says ,”Give me water”. So he starts calling the liquid that he drinks when his throat begins getting harsh ‘water’. Simply some things, some words get ingrained. Helen Keller has written in her book “The Autobiography of My Life” that she used to read books without understanding many wonder. She wondered how these words came automatically to mind when she needed them.
A child learns without appreciating or understanding the meaning of language. She later wonders at the mystery of language. I also wonder at the mystery. How did I come about speaking the things I am speaking, writing what I am writing? i did not obviously learn the dictionary by heart to know the language. Then how come these got ingrained in my psyche? I wonder at the working of my sub-conscious mind.
I welcome all comments that can throw some light upon the subject. Thank you and “Ta-ta”.
It was my first journey of this type- expedition in the riverine coastline of a jungle- Sunderban. Sunderban (pronounced Shundor-bon) is named after the Sundari trees. It is a mangrove forest on islands in the Ganga Delta. It is a part of both India and Bangladesh 1,330.12 km2 (328,680 acres) in India alone. It is a home to more than 400 tigers of the Royal lineage( they are royal Bengal tigers). Tigers, unlike humans, have no boundary restrictions and keep traveling between both the neighboring countries. Staple rice and fish is the common diet of the poor who usually live in the region. Life is miserable here. People lack basic amenities. They are always in the pincer grip of fear because of the tigers which may have a hunt in their own village. There was a time when people used to enter deep forests for fishing. Only a few of the fishermen who went on such expeditions were lucky to see the next day. Life was such that women, when they bid farewell to their men to work, removed all the signs of marriage- the vermillion and the bangles. They were put on only when their husbands fortunately returned to their home (which was more or less like returning to life from death).
Conditions have certainly improved a lot from those days. Sunderban is now famous for its splendor and the regal beauty of the fauna that cherishes in it. I was awe-struck at the serene scenery that opened up around me as our launch entered the forest. Excitement and anxiety surrounded me as I searched for the royal mane that would be hiding under the golden leaves of a kind of mangrove tree. Unfortunately I could not pay homage to the princely creature. Yet, I payed homage at the temple of Bondevi( the Goddess of forest) who is always worshiped by the human-tiger devotee. And I also saw the muscular spotted deer peeping from the shade of the trees.
It was an ecstatic journey, specially an ecstatic night listening to the stories of forest from the boatman docked in the mid-river with the shimmering water reflecting the moon.