Sunday, December 16, 2012

On the difficulties to converse in ones Mai bhas (in Konkani: mother tongue)

Aagurs (in Kashmiri: sources).  For HIMAL Southasian, Kathmandu
Nepal.Scripts depicted are Takri (top left), Sarada (bottom-horizontal),
Kashmiri (a) [no longer in use], top right, Arabic (for Urdu) and Roman. 
Language and language retention causes a lot of anguish among those who believe (rightly too, I believe) that the inability to converse in ones mother tongue alters our makeup, renders us inadequate as bearers of a given culture; and that we often tend to lose out proportional and even more to what we gain by speaking in a dominant language like English, unless of course the attempt to transition is complex and relatively complete. 

So, It could be seen as a collapse of memory. Moving on… and I must add, that these thoughts stemmed from a conversation/ discussion on the language Konkani (which is my mother tongue) taking place on Goanet .

In modernity being polite has its charms, besides its good procedural practice. Hence we often hear that such and such conducted themselves as a gentleman, although the discussion had its upheavals. Many discussions and the quality of argumentation have nothing to do with being a gentleman, or possessing gentlemanly values, unless one means it as an euphemism for “deficient” (Konkani, unno (as in less/deficiency, not undo (bread!). Forgetting Konkani should not normally bring to mind as a matter of course—those who speak English with any distinct Indian flavor, since there are also those who speak exquisite English, and write even better although they do not speak the mai bhas. And I do not have to showcase them. They are in our midst. 

The aggravation when it spills over, on account of somebodies lack of Konkani chops, says something about us. At the end of the day all families construct themselves in ways they see fit, even if that shaping may appear unfit (in/to our eyes). It is when we lash out, or are absolutely nonchalant—that we have a choice to not engage, engage less, move on, or maintain the possibility of effecting some manner of change/ engagement. 

I had one of ours tell me that he regrets not being able to converse in Konkani. That's fine, yet why so, considering that among many things obvious, this being also has the resources to set things right. But such possibilities do not gel with their modernism. Oslem unneaponn (Such lack / Such poverty [of mind, of being]). On the other hand it could be a feint, as one ramps up ones ability in Konkani. Other than a small anecdote, it matters not. It would have mattered if I said, “this ass,” but then… 

+ + 

My mother would exhort/ encourage us to speak in English, not in Hindi. She was not wrong in a way, but WRONG in that — being a part of India, and having neighbors, folks from UP, Lucknow, Allahabad, almost all rank and file as us, we had to relate to them beyond Level 101, not merely inquire, sab theek hai (from Hindi: Is all ok?). Hanh (Yes,… and a few more words). But her aspiration for us may have been what she saw "was possible" with certain tools, one of them being English. This woman as a child had been pulled out of school when my grandmother got partially paralyzed; she did not wish to get married; and when she did so it was in Bombaim (Mumbai). So, her view must have got shaped as revealed through these few significant touchstones. We encouraged her to speak to us in whatever Portuguese she knew but then, it was not to be. We had no pretensions that Mother knew a lot of Portuguese, since she had shared that she did not. But I had seen her do a lot with what her ability was in that language. For me, it will happen sooner than later sometime in the near future.

Furthermore, is it only I who wondered/ wonders whether other parents did not say something similar to my mother, to their children — considering not having encountered such sharing. On Goanet for the longest time its been something on the lines of: My mother encouraged us to speak Konkani. NEVER: I was discouraged to speak in Braj/ Magadhi, or say Konkani! (a joke of course, but better to make it obvious). Perhaps I may be presumptuous enough to say that relatively educated parents know/ knew the winds better, and made sure that in not putting out less flattering thoughts — that certain reminiscences would not show up in ones wards autobiography. But I cannot wait for better paper to be manufactured. 

Wondering what Hindu parents said to theirs, could be a worth a cup of tea. 

But besides all the Konkani, or whatever—not much seems to have helped our own, in basic terms—civility, and the like. 

The manner in which we emote, and that taken over time says/ tells a thing or too. The operative phrase here being “over time”. Now I could write the same in Konkani and prove our Resident prescriptivist (NONE of you who have contributed to this conversation/ discussion on Goanet thus far) wrong, but that would mean me having to work OT = overtime.

Um dos otros.

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