1. The language dilemma: The children of migrant families in America face significant challenges in keeping up with their native language and culture. While English is what they hear at school and playgrounds, the western culture is distinctively different than the one from the native homelands.
Here, the Bangladesh homes are no different. Parents are worried that the link to the homeland will erase if the children do not practice speaking in Bengali, or that the western culture will wipe away their original social values and norms. Surprisingly, the children talk in Bangla quite well until they start going to school. Once they are with their peers, the natural tendency to follow the friends take over and the children do not want to speak Bengali at all. In response, the parents refuse to give them their favourite things unless they talk in Bengali. But the kids are smarter than you can imagine, and somehow will blackmail you and have it their way. It’s not only language but also the lifestyle in general that the children are more likely to accept. In the brightness of the moments, the culture and social norms that their parents carry remain veiled. We can hardly expect them to relate to the land which they visit randomly to influence their thoughts. Often the guardians get caught in the puzzle. For instance, the other day, while explaining the sounds of the animals, I told Nobo, my granddaughter, “The cow says, ‘hamba’.”Little Nobo informed me, “Dada, the cow says ‘moo’, not hamba.” I was perplexed; it seemed that the language of the animal was different too. In matters of dress, little girls like to wear the traditional Bangladeshi way in community programmess. They enjoy the saris, lahenga and kurtis, and they are fond of the bright colours and the sequins and beads over them.
While it is easier to dress boys and girls according to the parent’s wishes, once they develop their taste in clothing, the colours, glittery stuff and the style of traditional Bangladeshi clothes are off the table. They want, less colourful and straightforward things to wear. “Well Americans don’t much bother about clothes in informal gatherings, why do you?” They ask. How to explain that we the Bengalis love to dress up when we socialise? A culture they are not familiar is challenging to teach, and often it’s a duel between parents and children before a party. Some parents let go, and others keep trying, that is until the children are adults. The chicks then are like birds that have learned to fly and can roam the sky on their own.
However the stories of children and keeping roots alive are not hopeless ones, some children end up liking their native language and lifestyles. While some of them can incorporate the adopted culture with the one at their family, others find it difficult. Parents face challenges and like a puzzle needing to be filled in, hope their children will be able to retain the traces of the native lands. And getting in touch with friends of Latin, Chinese or Indian roots, I witness a similar trend in families in their efforts to keep the culture alive. And as humans, we are united to a more significant cause to blend the heritage from the lands we come from with the area we adopt. The futility of a short life makes it all challenging for us, but we learn to pick ourselves up even when we fall.
2. Fleeting life: Under a summer sky of 2018, as I watch the bees in our yard, I feel lucky. What a luxury, I do not have to gather my food within the short span of summer like those insects. What a rush for those little things! How has honey been a lifelong friend in my diet? And more, while they pollinate the plants, they need to chalk out time to mate in that same season and the warmth it holds. The surviving virgin queen bee may mate 12-15 drones, that is if the weather holds. That all sounds so challenging for the insect that harbours life forces! As humans we have less challenging roles when it comes to mating, if I can’t find love this spring, I can hope to meet one in fall or winter. What a bonus to our emotional indulgences!
I believe that there is a connection between our souls seek and how life materialises for us. I feel an immense connection to nature since with the beautiful phases of seasons in New England. At present, America is my heaven in spring, summer, fall, and winter. Somehow, I do not miss the land I left behind for the joy of discoveries among people and nation have me centrifuged. The people back home, the loved ones pull my heartstrings. But one cannot have it all; I must move on. The busy bees teach me to live life to the brim, and I live every moment of my new life in America.
What a rushed dating season nature has in the part of the Earth in Massachusetts. The butterflies, bees, birds, rabbits, flowers: all have to live while the warm weather runs. The apple blossoms, the blueberries, strawberries and all, they have, have to bear the fruits while summer runs, or else miss this year’s train. We as humans have names for seasons are fortunate to be able to choose in how and where we live each, but nature is conditioned to live as given by the one who creates from the seat of the universe. That must be a helpless feeling, and I wonder how we can help nature in their abundance. It is for our good that we help the nature to maintain a balance. After all, we are the ones to eat the apples, while the flowers fill our aesthetic senses, and the bees keep the pollination alive and for life to continue. As humans, we have responsibilities to take care of our environment. Nature nurtures us physically and mentally. The Earth, our home, is cradled by the universe, and we are witnesses of our times in this world. There is this immense responsibility to our future generations, we should be able to hold up a safer Earth.
Tulip Chowdhury writes from Massachusetts, USA