What is a language, but a means to let yourself be heard? But sometimes we are giving so much importance to it, especially English.
It is that Era, when English is becoming glamorous and well known and it is when Isha Ahamad’s parents suddenly, oh so suddenly decide she is going to be an English Talker. There is not any real solid reason behind it, though. Everyone is doing it and so Isha’s parents want her to do it, as well.
They don’t realize how it will be for a ten years old to be thrust towards some unknown language. It feels the same as when you are taken to an unknown city and be left there.
For Isha, it is all a mumbo-jumbo. She doesn’t get it, get why her parents are so adamant about it.
English is this confusing and foreign language for ten years old Isha. Isha don’t know why she is suddenly required to talk in a new language. To talk in something she doesn’t understand.
She can read and write and talk well in Tamil. After all, Tamil is her language, her mother tongue.
But then… people all around her are talking in this strange language. Their lips go this way and that way and their voice are all nasally and wierd and they are trying too hard and it shows.
English Mediums have become a status symbol. A riot. A new set of mommies (they don’t want to be called அம்மா anymore) crop up, who talk about how their kid is talking a great Ingleesh in a proud voice and these mommies’ Ingleesh is broken and without any conjunctions or verbs or sometimes even the nouns, but they talk English and that gives them respect.
English has suddenly become a status symbol and then it stops being just a language.
So Isha’s parents want her to go to English Medium as well. They have the textbooks in all the colors and the books read Mathematics, English, Science, Social Studies, தமிழ்.
She dosn’t understand what a telescope is. She has always known it as ‘தொலைநோக்கி.’
She doesn’t know how to pronounce Mathematics. She has always known it as ‘கணிதவியல்.’
And she hates it. She hates feeling inadequate and stupid, just because she doesn’t know all the words and terms and answers in English.
Languages are not used to measure IQ or wisdom or intelligence. Not in any country. But then… INDIA becomes the first country where you are judged by your competency to talk in English by other English speakers 🔊
She feels like she is the most unintelligent girl out there. Amid all those English speakers.
One day she comes to my home and we are talking about her school and she says, “I hate it. I don’t understand them, their questions and I hate feeling like a fool.” She looks at me and she sulks. In Tamil, of course. We are not in that stage to talk in English within the house. Not yet.
“You are not a fool, baby. You are like totally intelligent.” I say. She looks unconvinced.
That is when I know how this has affected her so much.
Now they talk in English like everyone of them have originally come out from the Womb of England.
Teachers assume that everyone knows English. And it is that assumption, that need to talk and chatter in Ingleesh and prove your worth by it… And that is what put this self-hatred in this little girl. That is what corroded her self-confidence, her enthusiasm.
I hate our weakness then. We are all so weak, so pretentious to have put that thought in a little girl’s mind.
India had had its Freedom from English men. India had fought hard to stop being a slave to England.
But somehow, we are still slaves to English.
Of course, in this changing era, English is a must-have, but it is not a must-need. And really, what angers me is the need of us to judge others by their English. Need of us to want to talk in English than our own language, even when English isn’t aboslutely unnecessary.
I say, “English is just a language, Isha. What matters is you know the right answers. Not the right Language.”
She looks at me as if I am crazy and preposterous to have said something like that. I understand her.
“You will teach me Ingleesh?” She asks.
But then there is so much I have to do and I don’t have that much time. I have my BE classes to attend, projects to finish, semesters to conquer. She stops pestering me.
But I still did as much as I can for her.
That is like years ago. Now Isha is grown up and she is studying in a good college and she knows how to pronounce English and Mathematics and even Randezvous (I can bet my left eye and right ear that some of the so called Ingleesh parents who made fun of her once can’t pronounce it right!)
Now I look at this… Nihar Naturals Shanti Amla’s ‘Patshala Funwala‘ initiative and I immediately remember Isha and her fear of being an outcast because of her inadequacy in English.
And as I note down the toll-free number for the fun way of learning English, a really thoughtful and great step towards educating girls who fear being mocked by others when they try to ask what a telescope🔭 is, I think about Isha, how she would have loved to have it in her corner those days, when she feared speaking out loud because she feared being ridiculed of her mispronounciation and her English speaking skills.
8055667788 – Here is the number towards learning a new language. And that is All English is, A New Language.
I pull out a pen, a paper and write about what this Patshla Funwala is along with the numbers.
Now, of course, I am bound to meet girls, girls who want to talk like me. Who wants to write like me in English. (They tell me that sometimes. When you get books and prizes delivered to your home after you win blogging contests, girls around you start to notice and want to talk about that…)
I am bound to meet them, because ours is a relatively small town where people still struggle with their Language (our Tamil is still so strange somewhat). With their English. And I think about how these little girls, like Isha, will benefit so much from it.
And I am happy I can be a help. Just handing out the number can be a big help to the girls like Isha.
“I am blogging about Pathshala Funwala by Nihar Shanti Amla Oil in association with BlogAdda”
This is Nihar Shanti Amla’s Pathshala Funwala’s toll free number 8055667788, and towards learning a new language or learning an old language in a better way.