Has interaction among communities become difficult because of language hitch?
The question came to the fore when some non-Bengali residents of Ranchi who learnt Bangla at Sunday classes for a year at Union Club and Library revealed at a get-together that they had learnt to read and write, but were unable to communicate for lack of practice and fluency.
This is rather surprising for a city like Ranchi that has a sizeable Bengali population and where even non-Bengali businessmen manage to speak the language to keep their Bengali customers happy.
“We do speak Bangla in the class every Sunday, but we surely need to practice more and more to speak the language fluently,” said Shiv Chandra Prasad, a 59-year-old executive engineer with the state road construction department who attended the classes.
Enrolled to explore the rich literary tradition the language offers, Prasad has now decided to request his Bengali neighbour to have regular conversations with him to brush up his vocabulary.
Manish Kumar, who teaches finance at a management institute, shared the same problem. “I have learnt to read and write, but have not made much progress as far as speaking Bangla is concerned,” he rued, adding that though some of his relatives could speak Bengali, they did not stay in the capital city.
Ram Ranjan Sen, a retired Bengali professor of Ranchi University who has been conducting the classes at Union Club, said: “I have suggested that they should have more conversations in Bengali to be able to speak the language without hiccups.”
Sen has been conducting hour-long sessions every Sunday with help from club members and their wives like Keya Chatterjee, Arundhati Mukherjee and Reeta Dey.
Not merely a crash course, these free classes were introduced around this time last year with an aim to teach the language to Bengali children who do not know how to speak their mother tongue.
Gradually, it started attracting non-Bengali residents too. As of now, there are 41 students and half of them are non-Bengali.