I haven’t explored Bengali literature much and that has always bothered me in a consistent, nagging sort of way. My knowledge of Bengali is limited to 12 years of schooling, Satyajit Ray, and few other novels and short stories.
I believe time is better invested in learning one way of doing a particular thing instead of multiple ways — especially when the different ways are almost mutually exclusive and do not complement each other. If I have 100 units of time set aside for exploring language, I’d use all 100 on either English or Bengali instead of doing a 50-50 approach, because the greatest treats always lie at the far end.
English was always the superior choice in terms of opportunities, outreach and diversity. However, it is still a foreign language and can never have as strong a hold on my emotions as a mother tongue. Is it even remotely possible to capture the beauty of Pather Panchali or Srikanta in another language? I think not.
Within the constraints of my experience, I’ve always perceived Bengali as dark and somber. Its capacities for melancholy and nostalgia are beyond scary.
But then again, maybe that’s how all dying languages are.