As you may have heard, Bengali women are occasionally referred to as tigresses. This may be because of our relative proximity to the Royal Bengal big-cats desperately clinging to existence in the Sunderbans, but I suspect it is rather more because of our famed temper and tongue. Bengalis may be patriarchal to their driest bones, but their women are a far cry from the standard-issue third-world stereotype — veiled, quiet and submissive.
So, last Saturday, out in the scorching sun visiting my tailor, my foot caught a wooden stool left on the footpath by street vendors. I stumbled magnificently. Upbringing kicked in at the same time as pain, however, and I fulsomely apologised to the vendor for having hurt my foot on his carelessly-strewn property.
The vendor took the apology a little too literally. He and his five nearest neighbours promptly surrounded me, and began ripping me to pieces, asking me to shut my mouth and watch where I went. Opinions about fancy airheads who thought they owned the world were floated, and two male customers informed the vendors that they were too lenient with such uppity females.
This, as you can imagine, left me with only one course of sensible action. I picked up the stool, walked till I came to a gap between vendors, and smashed it on the ground. It broke into four unequal pieces. Then I sauntered calmly down the length of the footpath, to a flatteringly astonished silence.
What can I say, I have a temper. Everything you’ve heard about Bengali tigresses are occasionally true.