Poison Pen

don't worry, she doesn't bite anymore.

Friday, May 05, 2006

language and breakups

this is kind of a continuation of the previous post. since i wsa talking about not having a word for "having sex" in regular hindi, and that carried on into a discussion on culture and language and someone said that since casual sex didn't happen in india until recently, there was no need for such a word in hindi.

so, i was reminded of a time many years ago when i was in college and i was dating X then. now there were some guys i knew who spoke almost totally in bangla. once it so happened that X was talking to some of these guys and as i was walking towards them, one of them said to X, "ei. tor bou aashchhe". now this got me really really annoyed. because i was not married, and not even close, so i felt it only right that they use an appropriate word. of course, they found it really funny, and for a long time after that, everytime they saw me someone would ask "tor bor kothaye", and then they would laugh at their own little joke.

X would try and pacify me on these occasions. he told me that they didn't mean anything. its just that they used the words "bor" and "bou" to refer to any couple in college, mainly because there really wern't any better words in bangla for "boyfriend" and "girlfriend". and while i insisted that that wasn't an excuse, they could just use the english words instead since it wasn't like they didn't know english, at some point i also asked why bangla didn't have functional expressions for these concepts, especially because its not like its entirely new. my parents and most of their friends had love marriages, so for some period they were all girlfriends and boyfriends. how come nobody ever came up with a good word or two?

but then X said "well, they all got married eventually, right? so it wouldn't have been wrong to call them 'bor' and 'bou'". of course this seemed like very silly logic to me, and i said so. its like once you enter a relationship, your fate is sealed. of course, this caused another fight, where X asked whether i was saying that it was stupid of people to expect to get married, and so on. but thats not the point.

now when i think about it, a large number of those relationships did end in marriage. so many people i know just married the first person they went out with. i'm not trying to suggest that the marriages were ill-advised, but i can't help wondering whether they might not have had the courage to break up, just because once they got into the relationship, they got swept away by the tide. that because everyone started assuming that they had to get married, they did and not because they particularly wanted to. whether they might not have been happier with someone else.

but then, we'll never know.