With the Wind

Greetings and More

Tulip Chowdhury

30 January, 2021 12:00 AM printer

Greetings and More

Tulip Chowdhury

Covid-19 has changed how we say "Hello" or "Bye" even if we are close friends or relatives. The pandemic has changed our lives in countless ways and our love language too. As the killer virus continues, we meet friends, colleagues, or relives outside the home while we are six feet apart and, of course, with the face mask. We might wish to hug and kiss; we don't for the warning bells ring to remind the safe distancing. The familiar world has become unfamiliar. When I am outside in my sunglasses and the facemask covering the lower part of the face, the face is hardly visible.  The voice, too, is muffed, coming through the masks again. My closest friend has difficulty in recognizing me at first glance. The pandemic has men and women style hair differently, and they have new looks. Men have grown known as 'pandemic beards' while women have changed short hair to long. During the past months of quarantine, people have become experts at haircuts at home with the styling tools available in the market. But and then, this is a new reality, or we are discovering the world anew.

The world of 2021 may be strange, but the mind has a habit of catching winds over the old familiar ways' valleys. It takes me back to life in Sylhet, Bangladesh. For most of the Sylhetis, greeting the elders with due respect is extremely important. While some grandparents, uncles, and aunts may be okay with the verbal greeting of "Proonam" or "As salamualikum" the others are pleased with the feet' touching to pay them respect. For instance, when a new bride or groom comes into the family, the ceremonial 'salam' part where the family members pay due regard to the older in-laws. The younger and the loved ones are greeted with a 'naku' touching noses like the Eskimo kiss and reflect affection. Growing up, I was fortunate to have many 'nakus', and at the time, the elders would also hold the fingers around the cheeks as they did the 'naku'. But I remember some affections running so deep that the fingers would dig into my cheeks. Talking of pandemic days, elders are wise and have stopped taking offense when the typical greeting is missing.

A Bengali person's causal encounter might begin with asking, "Ki khhobor?" (What is the news?).  New acquaintances may find questions like "Where do you live?" followed by  "Are you married?" If you are married, then be ready to answer how many children there are or, if not, why. In the western world, the questions would be personal; it is brotherly to the Bangladeshi. If the conversation goes well, the invitation comes to know the family. "Bashai ashben, or 'Come to my home, please."  For the Bangladeshis being a good friend may mean comments like, "You have become fat! Oh no. Have you not been watching your weight?" Or "You have become darker. Are you feeling okay?" Don't get me wrong; all are well-meant words and genuine concern. The western world might take remarks on the body as rudeness, but cultures have different expressions. However, the sweetest love language may be the words of assurance, "I love you."

Love languages differ for romance and the universal kind, and they are expressed in variations as well. Sickness, health, and misfortunes the words of loved ones, 'I am there if you need me' is like magic. The expression is enough to warm lend strength to people. A daughter's phone call, a visit, and hearing the magic words of 'I love you' make their days to the aging parents. While the world goes through trials and triumphs, love and kindness keep us together. Staying connected to people across the globe is much easier than it was two decades back. The supernatural world of the Internet brings the world closer every day. Mobile phones and other uses of other gadgets are becoming more and more user friendly. As mobile phones and the Internet have brought the world in our palms, the Emojis have added colours and time saving to our expressions. Clicking on an Emoji is user friendly and more manageable than writing. Days of actual hugs and handshakes have come to an indefinite pause for the pandemic. We have managed to find our ways to get through the pandemic with a big sacrifice. Hopefully, the vaccines starting in 2021 will help the people of the Earth to survive.

Humans are creatures of habit, and they can change their ways. These days, when someone says, "Virtual Hug" or blows a kiss in the air to show affection, the heart warms up alright. When someone wants to send love, the angels find the ways. After all, the saying, "Omnia Vincit Amor (love conqueres all)" does not grow old at all.


Tulip Chowdhury writes from

Massachusetts, the USA.