The period of 1870 – 1920 – some five decades have been a period of great creative output and historical ferment for Greater Bengal. I have tried to tell this story in a book I wrote spanning a decade entitled An Intimate History of Bengal. The interview is re-mastered for current audience.
In a landed gentry family, the only daughter Hiranbala, aged around 14 years is to be engaged to an eligible bachelor. Two bachelors of almost equal earning, looks, family background, education were suitors. Let us call them Babu Lalmohan and Babu Jagmohan.
The grandmother, aged around 65 years whose sons, daughters, their husbands, wives and daughters and their children’s basic details will need an excel sheet to be scrolled few times, curiously following the proceedings.
Babu Lalmohan, a young Calcutta-College educated Babu, quite conversant in the dialogue of Romeo and Juliet in the eternal garden created by a Midland Englishman had heard about our young Bengali Juliet’s beauty. The grandmother asked through proxy as whether he knew how to ride a bi-cycle. He answered in the negative.
Babu Jagmohan was also asked the same question after basic module of questions were over. Babu Jagmoahn answered an energetic yes.
The grandmother chose Babu Jagmohan as a more eligible and better husband material.
While asked as what is the relationship between the skill of riding a bi-cycle and of maintaining a wife, her answer is given in italics below., HR-men and women, please make a plaque of this sentence uttered by an almost illiterate old woman in your desk and reflect on this while you assess candidates who are more or less equal.
You see, bi-cycle is a thing of curiosity. It is available everywhere. If it did not occur to a young man to learn it, it is clear that he lacks initiative. Future prospect of a person does depend first and foremost on initiative about knowing and learning new things and new skill. This kind of a person will find out some way or other in the long run and will eventually succeed. He is responsible with regards to learning a new skill and will learn the new skill of being a husband more easily.
Courtesy : From a story of Rajshekhar Basu alias Parashuram, one of the finest prose-writers and storytellers of modern Bengal.