My language My pride

By Diyaa in Beauty, Fashion & Trends
Updated 12:09 IST Feb 21, 2019

‘Am I really a Punjabi or I just have a fancy surname ‘ was the most common question I was asked after introducing myself to others specially as a kid! I have no idea where did my ancestors get such a funny last name from? We weren’t even what our names said. That’s what confused everyone around. Well, I am a Sindhi with a Punjabi surname, literally! Even though I may say it sounds weird, I always loved my unique family name. It got me a some special attention with a lot of interrogation behind it. At times this was made into a joke, wherein I have had my seniors in school who would feel I was mocking at them by saying my name is Ms. Punjabi and in response they would say glad to meet you Ms. Punjabi, I am Mr. Maharashtrian!

Jokes apart, I feel I was lucky to have my grandparents around me for as long as I can remember. I am grateful to them that I today I can speak my mother tongue so fluently and I am superlatively proud about the fact. When other Sindhi kids my age couldn’t even understand the language being in the same country same town and the same locality, the language was flowing so swiftly out of me! Then came the turning point in my life when being in a school headed by Sindhi board of directors, they demanded that we learn to read and write the language too at the age of ten. My parent could speak well but couldn’t read and write the language to a great extent. That compelled me to change my school at a young age. I somewhere blamed my language for making me lose my early best friends in life. It brought a huge change to my life. It took me a while to adjust to the new school and friends. But never the less I enjoyed and made most of it and soon enough forgot about the Sindhi script.

Today as a millennial mother, I had the pressure of teaching my kids English very early on. When my older son started speaking he would only speak Sindhi or Hindi. At a lot of places he was made fun of or given funny stares. At the age of three I took it seriously and made him watch all possible cartoon shows only in English and spoke to him in the same language. I encouraged him to read English books often. Few years back when we asked him to speak our mother tongue he did that with a broken accent. It disheartened me. I was scared somewhere that I left the writing and reading part of my language behind and my child shouldn’t let go of it completely. Today at the age of ten he reads books beyond his age and speaks the language so fluently but yes somewhere he was forgetting the basics of his mother tongue.. I am so grateful to his school that thy have taken up the mother tongue as a special subject and encourage teaching the same once in a week. I feel so happy when he comes home and recites poetries in the same(though he still has a different accent to it). It gives me comfort in knowing that he will not lose touch totally ever, that somewhere this language will be kept alive through them. Thus I now made it a point to talk to my younger son in our native language. It makes communication so much more easier and comfortable. Though it’s easy to understand,me and my kids, we still use it as a secret code in public. It makes me proud as a parent and also as a citizen of this country that I am well versed with one of the oldest languages known here.

It’s not wrong learning any other language. I myself know almost five languages and I intent to pass these forward to my kids. In fact the UNESCO celebrates 21st February every year in the honour of International mother language day. It is a day to honour the sacrifices made by people who wanted to keep their language alive. It also marks the learning of a new language on the same day. The United Nations also uses this day to make announcements about policy changes as they relate to language learning and the support of this endeavor.

UNESCO believes in the importance of cultural and linguistic diversity for sustainable societies. Linguistic diversity is increasingly threatened as more and more languagesare disappearing . Across the globe 40 per cent of the population does not have access to an education in a language they speak or understand. Nevertheless, progress is being made in mother tongue-based multilingual education with growing understanding of its importance, particularly in early schooling, and more commitment to its development in public life. Languages are thus used as a very powerful tool in preserving our heritage. They believe to keep up the peace and calm it’s important for us to know our mother language and keep it alive.

Like Nelson Mandela rightly pinned it, “ if you talk to man in a language he understands that goes to his head, if you talk to him in his own language that goes to his heart”.

 

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