West Bengal is populated with approximately 91 million people; out of which Rajbangshis lead with 3,801,6771 people. Cognizing with the fact that Rajbangshis are sufferers of a prolonged identity crisis, population count presents a contradicting narrative. This statistical revelation amounts to a grievous sigh- from a paradox, a sigh for the mass amnesia pertaining to the deferred identity as Rajbangshis. And the irreconcilable minds of the educated Rajbangshi youth have aided in prolonging this crisis.
For most of them, in metamorphosing into newer selves, which is an inevitable part of self-evolution, they have failed to sustain the waves of cultural globalization. They have clad themselves in every possible robe, as feminists, environmentalists, as fashion divas, rebelled against chauvinists, condemned the jihadists, excelled in hacking global politics, seen through the capitalist hegemony yet have remained ambiguous about their identities as Rajbangshis. Pursuing a self, unbound by any community limitations, they have themselves, created the hegemonic cluster of nonconformist intellectuals who perceive and conceive self only through the prism of global trends. For whom fragmentation and alienation from their native selves is a path to spiritual hedonism.
Although for few it is the cancer of deculturation which grows undetected until hairs are grayed by the contrivance of age. Unknowingly or knowingly they have divested themselves from accepting the dialectics of identity. It seems that being a metropolitan, engaging in LGBTQ activism or supporting Kurdish state or conforming as an atheist, or being a hippie slovenly walking through the streets cancels any claim of being a Rajbangshi, allowing the meaning of self to be framed only through selective adherences. This linear assimilation of self is similarly condensed by the thinkers at the other end. A former woman KPP activist despises the young woman leaders for their suspicious sexual liaisons. Heterogeneity is an isolated virtue or vice, you indulge to slacken your social honor or peer pressure.
It is to some extent, the result of a conscious drive to construct a structured identity, which is in harmony with the conventional shrieks. For them, self-assessment comes only through a secured source of income or domestic sufficiency, and the end of education is the end of it. The identity question and struggle for it is generally an afterthought to be summoned at will after calculative inspection and speculation to avoid any apocalyptic moment. Being comfortably numb is their hallmark.
Edward Said claims, quite truly “… there is no just way in which the past can be quarantined from the present. Past and present inform each other, each implies the other… how we formulate or represent the past shapes our understandings and views of the present.” Rajbangshi youths have not just quarantined the past but are in the due process of erasing the memories, leaving the ego to feed only on strawberry, Marx, and Hilsa. With this partially informed present, why should not Rajbangshi youths suffer fragmentation and alienation? They are alienated not only because the past is obscure but because their present is a result of a culture of denial. The denial is both self-created and a coerced phenomenon. But the former reason is at the heart of erased identity of Rajbangshi youths, necessarily because; acceptance would have led to the death of stigma, and its conflict with coercion, the birth of activists, which is not the case. There is a deep void in our consciousness, which until bridged with acceptance, youth activism will be a romantic utopia and sociocultural development, only a figment of that utopia.
During the U.S. Civil Rights movement, Claudette Colvin was just 15 when she was arrested for refusing to give up her seat on a Montgomery Bus to a white person (nine months before Rosa Parks)2. Self-assertion comes not only through rebellion, it begins with minute chord shifts, petite individual gestures. With slight camera jerks, and sudden jump cuts Godard and Truffaut asserted their difference and broke away from Hollywood monopoly. But not just assertion, Breathless or 400 Blows, gave birth to a new cinematic language, culminating in an expression of post-World War 2 phenomenon. Individual talent, creative genius along with a sense of tradition and identity can help realize the most bizarre or unreachable utopias.
The voice is raised not to discomfit any idealist, but critique a seemingly spurious attitude and the insomniac minds of educated Rajbangshi youths of Bengal, who resist remembering their people at home, who before thinking locally acts globally. We have certainly failed to cognize the dilemmas of identity; imbibe the global currents along with sustaining our native selves and my epilog to this ongoing crises is:
“My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains