When I first came to US and made friends with Indians from different states, what struck me was that they all knew Hindi. Whether a person was from Gujarat, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Bihar, Assam, Andhra Pradesh, or any other state, they could understand Hindi and their own native language well. I was probably the only exception, coming from Haryana. I knew just two languages – Hindi and English. So, when my friends would try to explain some native word to me, it would often happen that the true meaning was lost in translation. Because for some words, there was no exact equivalent in Hindi or English. I would often muse on the nature of language – it was a window to that world in which it was spoken. It was a reflection of the culture to which it belonged. And a knowledge of a different language meant that you became more familiar with its culture too. Most of the people make efforts to teach their kids their native language here. And interestingly, the Gujarati community is so widespread and present here, that many websites (school/business) have options to translate their page in English, Spanish or Gujarati. Isn’t it amazing?!!!
Hindi is the official language of India but is not the national language. The primary reason for that is the presence of a multiple of other languages in India. Imposition of one language over the other is not a fair thing especially when all other languages are part of our nation too. Monopoly of one language can ruin the diversity that our nation advocates. It would be akin to making the rainbow only one color, and thereby destroying its very identity.
I agree that to understand one’s culture and traditions, language is the key player. To be able to communicate in one’s mother tongue, to be able to understand and exchange thoughts and ideas through the language of our ancestors is a sign that we are carrying forward the legacy bestowed to us. It is good to know your roots. And that is the reason I insist that my kids learn Hindi. But that’s because Hindi is my mother-tongue. My friends teach their kids the language they speak, because that is part of their tradition, their culture. To say that they don’t speak Hindi and are therefore in some way neglecting our Indian culture would be wrong. All languages have their own place and significance in the history and culture of our country. Together they define what India is. Hindi as well as non-Hindi speakers have a place of equal importance and an over-emphasis on one can be detrimental to the very essence of the others. So for me, a healthy interchange of ideas, a harmonious unison of cultures and traditions that define us is a must. No monopolization or tyranny of just one language – I stand for diversity. People in power often misuse things in the name of culture when they accuse innocent people of neglecting or slighting traditions. What they are doing in effect is creating a wall that will isolate, that will segregate, that will exclude. For any culture to progress, exclusion is not the key.
अपनी भाषा तुम पर क्यों थोपूं
चलो विचार कुछ ऐसे रखें
तुम सीखो कुछ
मैं सीखूँ कुछ
अस्तित्त्व तुम्हारा कभी न बिगड़े
और मेरी भी पहचान न बदले
रंग भरें तस्वीर में ऐसे
जैसे नील गगन में सजता
सतरंगी वो इंद्रधनुष
प्रगति होगी तभी मित्र
जब जड़ें उखाड़ें नहीं किसी की
और नींव को अपनी दृढ़ रखें
तुम सीखो कुछ
मैं सीखूँ कुछ
भाषाएँ संवाद करें
स्वर-संगत संगीत सजे
Written for IndiSpire Edition 159
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
How do you think did I get this scar? Yaw, one of the character in the novel asks his students. The latter come up with various replies. They are all speculating and when they are done, they ask their teacher Yaw for a finite answer. Yaw replies, ” I was only a baby. All I know is what I’ve heard.” This is perhaps one of the most important motif of the novel. What we hear or what is passed on to us is a matter of half-truth…..like the half-caste who stands neither here nor there. Yaa Gyasi’s novel is a sweeping saga of family history through generations. At times, one tends to get lost in the maze of trees that stand tall in the story – opposing pillars that are part of the same soil but that are drifted apart by powerful forces of greed, racism and prejudice. The story of two sisters Effia and Esi give way to multiple currents of thoughts. Like a river that runs into different directions, separating at some point from its own water, and then perhaps meeting at some other point, the saga too takes us to distant locations. But the stone, the symbol of the past, the connecting link goes along too – as a token or a reminder. It is the memory-keeper.
Another significant strand of the story is that the narrative of slavery is not one-sided in the novel. There are moments when victim and perpetrator meet, and become accomplices in crime. This re-emphasizes the fact that history is only a story – the dominant one is that which is spoken by those in power. It will only be partially true. Much of it will be a fabrication or a cover-up. When Marjorie writes her poem, it pinpoints to this very complicity –
We, two, wade.
The waters seem different
but are same.
Our same. Sister skin.
Who knew? Not me. Not you.
Those interested in understanding history as fiction, history as mere stories whose truths ought to be interrogated will find Homegoing a compelling read.
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The deadline for the #Contest being held by funkaar.in is approaching. The prompts are based on #Music. Please pitch in your entries by
December 25th, 2016.
The deadline has been extended….It is Jan 20th, 2017 now.
It is a verified contest. And best entries will win the assured vouchers.
To see the details and submit your posts, click on the following link
Funkaar #MusicDilSe Contest
Ronald Reagan said, ” Life is one grand sweet song, so start the music.” Many have compared life with music. The highs and lows of life are like the ascending and descending notes of a melody. Happy or sad, peppy or poignant, when the notes unite, they create a harmony. The result is the songs we sing, the life we live.
I am sharing the link below for an exciting blogging contest being held at Funkaar.in. The theme of the challenge is related to music quotes given as prompts. Bloggers who write the winning entry will win Amazon vouchers.
For details of the contest, please click on the following link – www.funkaar.in/contest.html
Good luck to everyone who will participate….!
Do spread the word….!!