The man asked, “You are a Bengali and you stay in Jharkhand?”
“Yes. My parents work here.”
“See, I am a Bihari and I stayed all my life in Kolkata and you are a Bengali and you always stayed in Bihar.” The man laughed.
Anindita smiled at his amusement.
When he was done, he continued, “Bengalis have a good culture. I like it, maybe because I have lived in Kolkata since my childhood. The best things about them is their ability to adapt to this changing world, take up the good things about the upcoming culture. We Biharis don’t do this. Look at us. Most of them still get emotional over dowry and caste and creed.”
He stopped for breath and looked at Anindita. So, she said, “Maybe because Bengalis were already much more unorthodox compared to others. So, the advancement is equal in both the cultures, just that they started from two different start points. And since we compare, we think the way you are thinking.”
The man was amused again. He said, “You are an intelligent girl. I don’t find girls talking this way. In fact this generation does not talk about these things. They have much more important things to do, like go to night clubs.”
Woh! That took Anindita up one step towards self praise. She found herself amused at his sole example of night clubs. She wondered why that was only example he could find. There were hundreds. Even she belonged to that group. It was just that she said these golden words at the right moment and left the man impressed. She said, “No uncle it’s not exactly like that. Maybe you never met such people or maybe they never discussed such things in front of you.”
In response he just uttered a “Hmm” and got back to his topic, “It is very difficult to change something in the society single handedly. I tell my friends that dowry is a bad thing. It should be avoided. In return people tell me that I am saying this because I have two daughters to marry off. If I had at least one son, I would have supported dowry. And whenever I promise myself that I will marry my daughters to someone who will despise dowry, I have this fear in me, what if I do not find such a man. It is very difficult not to think about it without worrying myself. You will know when you have children.”
Anindita thought why every grown up person uses this same sentence while explaining. She wondered if someday she would do that too. After all the statement did not leave any scope of arguments.
The man continued, “This is one of the things I like about Bengalis.”
Anindita replied, “No uncle, there are Bengalis too who indulge into the dowry system.”
“Yes, of course, exceptions are everywhere but its better among your culture. But then there are things I don’t like about Kolkata. Politics!”
Anindita smiled, “If you talk of politics uncle, I hate politics everywhere in India. And West Bengal’s problem is CP(I)M being in power for so long. But overall it is all the same everywhere.” And then Anindita smiled at herself. She was dumb when it came to politics, yet she loved the confidence in her tone. She did that every time. She knew Jasidih wasn’t far enough.
“Yes, yes you are right. But still, West Bengal, Bihar Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh are worse.”
Anindita replied, “Yes” and she got up, put her bag on her shoulders and smiled at the man.
“Oh, you are already at your place. It was nice talking to you. At least I had a nice conversation with a nice young lady instead of keeping shut all the way.”
Anindita said, “And I too had a good time with you instead of sitting and doing nothing.
The train pulled into the station. Anindita went near the gate. The train slowed down and then stopped.
Author's Note: I dont remember this conversation very well. Whatever I presented in this part is a short form of what we talked about. There was more. I liked talking to him ! After all he liked Bengalis ! :D