Don’t take ‘Pera’, ignore the ‘Clickbaaj’ and have an ‘Ostheer’ time!
Colloquial Bangla has undergone remarkable evolution in the last three decades with a set words with fascinating meanings becoming mainstays in the spoken language.
In the 80s, if something seemed stupendous, the usual Bangla expression to describe it was: 'Kothin', pronounced 'kotheen'. Now, 'kotheen' in English means hard, at least that is the literal translation. How it came to allude to something impressive is not known. It's a bit like the word 'wicked' in English. In its literal meaning, this is used to indicate something which is wrong or malicious. However, 'wicked' has a mischievous, almost hedonistic sound to it and may also be used to describe something which is intoxicating. So, your evening with a bottle of single malt, an attractive companion and soft music may be a wicked moment of leisure.
However, wicked in the current context also means something which is totally outstanding. Let's say you just bought a swanky Ford Mustang with a GT engine. Hell, that's a wicked car! This means, once you are in it, you will certainly not be playing 'Starry starry night' but will perhaps allow the speakers to blaze 'Highway to hell' or 'Heaven's on Fire'.
Wicked is the British version while across the pond in the USA and Canada, the word 'sick' is used. No, this is not to say, you find something riddled with disease. When you use the word 'sick' to allude to something you mean to say that you are totally overwhelmed by it. In the same manner, several Bangla words have seen radical transformations in their meanings and in their current usage, the real meaning is completely lost. In celebration of Ekushey, here's a few words that we hear all around us. Or perhaps, also use them without even realizing.
Don't give me 'Pera':
'Pera' is all around us; in fact, this means trouble or torment. Your girl-friend has asked you to let her know your whereabouts every hour, which you are taking as a 'pera'; or maybe, your mother is not allowing you stay out after 10 pm, which means, she is adding 'pera' to your life. Or perhaps, the teacher in the class has marked you out to ask questions every day. Why is he giving you so much 'pera'?
The boss calling when you are about to listen to a soft number and savour a glass of your favourite poison is also a 'pera', but naturally you can't say that. Any trouble or harassment is actually a 'pera'. Nagging can fall in this category too. You want to carry on studying but the family wants you to get married. What a 'pera'! Corona certainly gave us 'pera' in 2020!
Please stop the 'Kahini':
Now this means complicating a situation to an extent that one loses one's composure. Or in a broader sense, this may also indicate to an effort to unnecessarily elaborate something, or, in short, to resort to smoke and mirrors. Also, any imbroglio or a complex situation is also a 'kahini'.
Let's say, you and your friends have decided to go to a film and suddenly one member, usually the most enthusiastic one, is unwilling to go under some vague pretext. This means, there is some 'kahini' in his excuse, which he is trying to hide. Or let's say, your girl-friend was very excited to spend the evening with you at the local café but suddenly, her phone is switched off and she calls you after an hour to say in a hushed tone: 'jaan, ektujhamelaeasi,' let's meet later. There's certainly a 'kahini' here.
You have come from office and notice a fracas in your area: the police are there, a few well-dressed men and women, including one a well known model with a murky past, are shouting angrily, there is a person in a burqa making inaudible allegations. Yep, there is definitely a 'kahini' here which you would not want to miss.
So, he is the 'Clickbaaj'!
There is an English word clique, which means a narrow exclusive group but by some linguistic alchemy this word has entered Bangla with a disapproving meaning. 'Clickbaaj' is that person who drives a rift between people or plays one side against the other with malicious intent. If you are living in a joint family, this word is perhaps one of the most used by you because in a large family sphere there are always those who try to create enmity between people. And since this art is the main feature of the soap operas, 'clickbaaji' is familiar to all.
Let's say you are getting married and one of your relatives, who pretends to be very solicitous, goes and tells your prospective in laws that during your college years, you had a roaring love affair with your private tutor. Well, that's classic 'clickbaaji'. One of your colleagues, or several of them, envious of your success plus the fact that the boss trusts you, decides to go behind your back and tells the top guy: do you know, the person your trust is actually a libertine; after work, he brings dance girls at home and spends the nights in Bacchanalian orgy.
Well, that's 'clickbaaji'. But then, 'clikbaaj' people are silenced if they are dismissed. As I recall, once a boss silenced the detractors by saying: I know he arranges hedonistic parties with plenty of wine and other delicious vices because I am a regular there.
The experience was 'Shei (rokom)' or 'Ostheer':
'Sheirokom' in Bangla means like that. Now in the modern context 'Sheirokom' is a word to mean an experience that is out of this world or outstanding. If you find that your friend is wearing a well cut suit you can say: 'tore to sheilagtase'!
'Ostheer', meaning restless in its actual meaning, has become a term to express total approval for something. When something is mind-blowing, it's 'ostheer'. You went to Cox's Bazar, had a terrific time on the beach, won a lottery and then befriended the air stewardess on the plane. After coming back, you are entitled to say: the trip was 'sheirokom', the air stewardess had an 'ostheer' smile.
Twelve runs needed in the last over from two balls and the batsmen hit two consecutive sixes. 'Shei' batting! 'Ostheer' batting mama! At the gaye holud, a girl from the bride's side danced to the 'Laila' song with so much verve and sensuality so as to eclipse Sunny Leone. 'Shei' dancing, right? You can certainly go up to her and say: your moves were 'Ostheer'!
Would you feel 'pera' if I ask for your mobile number? If she likes you, she may give you the number or create a 'kahini' to keep you hanging on. Meanwhile, somebody, jealous of seeing you talking the girl, may go to your mother and say: see aunty, your son is disturbing a girl. Well, 'clickbaaj' people are all around. Just don't take the 'pera'��..go and have an 'ostheer' life!
Towheed Feroze is a journalist and teaches at the University of Dhaka