For those of you who don’t speak Bangla, this expression translates as “After the month of Maghe the winter doesn’t end”. Not that this helps, of course.
To understand this famous proverb you first need to know that Bangladesh runs three calendars: The international ‘Christian’ one; the Islamic one based from the time Muhammad(PBUH) began his ‘hijra’ in 610 AD; and the Bengali one. It is this latter that gives rise to the expression as ‘Maghe’ is the Bangla month that starts on the 14th December and ends on the 14th January. Yes, Bangla months don’t begin at the same time the international one!
Maghe is seen traditionally as the coldest month of the year. This is really when ‘shitkal’ or, ‘sheet’ – the winter season – really begins, though you will see Bangladeshis wearing jumpers and scarves way back in November sometimes while us ‘bideshis’ are still wandering around in T-shirts and shorts! ‘Maghe’ is feared then, by poor people, as the time of great hardship when people die from the cold.
The expression really means “just because Maghe has ended, it doesn’t mean the winter is over” and it is used when someone has been helped by another then shows a lack of gratitude in another situation. The suggestion is the benefactor will get revenge one day. It is roughly equal to the English expression “what goes around, comes around”.
I’m busy learning Bangla expression at the moment to ‘flavour’ my conversational skills, so you might find a few of these proverbs cropping up in the blogs, but here it is not the inferred meaning I was interested in but the literal one.
You see, we’ve just got through Maghe and, this year, done pretty well I think. Last year’s winter was horrible. It was one of the coldest on record and we all suffered – but those who were poor often died. It reached 2 degrees up here in the north when normally the winters reach about 4 – nothing in comparison to British winters( which themselves are nothing in comparison to Canadian or Finnish ones). But when you live in a country that for at least 10 months of the year is just unendingly hot then you live in homes that are designed to keep heat out not in. Our house has no double glazing to trap in heat and stop the fog from coming in to soak our beds and our clothes. Thank goodness it only lasts a handful of weeks.
This year, Maghe has been good to us and it has been a really warm winter. We may still be wearing two jumpers and thick socks, but it is bearable. I have been very grateful for this as I feared the entire winter season after getting used to British central heating again. But, as the expression reminds us, sheet is not over yet. Let’s hope it continues to be a nice winter and not that it has actually saved the worst for last.