The First Word-Tata

‘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”. 

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The Beautiful Forest: The Sundarbans

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It was a journey of a kind– expedition on a river encircling a jungle- the Sundarbans. Sundarban (pronounced Shundor-bon) is named after the Sundari trees it is famous for. Sundarban National Park, a mangrove forest on the islands of the Ganga Delta, is home to a hundred Royal Bengal Tigers. It is spread over both India and Bangladesh, with 1,330.12 km2 (328,680 acres) in India alone. Tigers, unlike humans, have no boundaries. So they keep travelling between both the neighboring countries and attacking humans as if all humans are the same. Such foolish creatures!

Staple rice and fish is the common diet of the poor humans who co-exist with these carnivores. For us, the citizens of the modern world, life seems miserable there. People lack basic amenities. They are always in the pincer grip of fear. 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 enough to see dusk falling on them again. Life was such that women, when they bid farewell to their men leaving for work, removed all signs of marriage- the vermillion and the bangles from their body. They put those back on only when their husbands, with great luck, returned to their huts. It was not just a simple return home, but something akin to a return from visiting Yamraj himself.

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Conditions have certainly improved a manifold from those days. Sunderbans is now famous for its splendour and the regal beauty of the fauna it nourishes. I was awe-struck by the serenity of the scenery that surrounded me as our launch made its ways through the river. We were all waiting in anticipation for the royalty of catching a glimpse of the Tiger and cry out–

“Tyger Tyger, burning bright,
In the forests of the night;
What immortal hand or eye,
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?”

(William Blake)

Unfortunately, I could not pay homage to the Royal creature. Instead, I paid homage at the temple of Bandevi (the Goddess of the forest, pronounced Bon Devi) who is depicted as an idol being worshiped by the human-tiger devotee. I also saw the muscular Spotted Deer watching us in the shade of the trees.

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It was a romantic journey, with an especially ecstatic night spent listening to the stories of the Sundarbans from the boatman, with the boat docked mid-river, the shimmering water reflecting the moon.

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