A Bengali Father, Oriya Teacher and International Mother Language Day

by Goutam Saha

A few years ago, when we shifted to Bhubaneswar from West Bengal, I struggled hard to get an Odia teacher for my kids. Like my home state Bengal, I found, in general, Odia parents are also very proud of their kids who are not good at their mother tongue but very good in English. Therefore, getting an Odia language teacher for my kids was not a cakewalk in this English-loving world. One fine day, during my morning walks in a posh locality in Bhubaneswar, I was amazed to see only one house with an Odia nameplate. I was quite impressed with the house owners’ love for their mother language. Desperately, I rang their call bell and a woman with a motherly charm and smiling face opened the door. There was a similarity of the charm in her smile that I have witnessed as a child. She somewhat resembled my mother. After a small discussion, I apprehensively requested her to teach my kids. She politely accepted my request and the rest became history.

She taught Odia to my kids for four years without any remuneration. She told many stories related to Odisha’s history, society, and culture and fed them with different Odia dishes/pithas during several local festivals. Within her, I saw a reflection of my departed mother. My kids now read, write and speak Odia fluently and respect the Odia culture, history and society. I hope my kids shall remain indebted to her throughout their lives and never forget the power and love of the local languages they know. The only thing I have told them is, “Odisha is my Mashi, who resembles my mother Bengal. So do not forget my Maa and Mashi if you really love me.”

About the Author:

Goutam Saha is a faculty in NIFT Bhubaneswar

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