MOTHER TONGUE-HAECCEITY THAT FUELS CULTURE

Born in a Sikh family, I managed to grasp the basic vocalizing skills required for my mother tongue Punjabi. My uncle once taught me to read and write Punjabi as well, but at that point of time, I didn’t give it much importance only to regret later.

My grandfather was a learned man. He was a polyglot and was well versed with English, Hindi, Punjabi, and Urdu. He used to write articles for various magazines and newspapers in these languages. I used to think that one day when I grow old, I will also learn many languages, but I couldn’t because I never tried.

My grandma, on the other hand, used to ask me not to speak in mother tongue, just because she feared that I may lag behind in school and may not be able to cope up with other children. So, I hardly spoke to her or anyone else at home in Punjabi. Though, I was well aware of this language, because all the elders in the house used to communicate in mother tongue only.

My father, however, used to emphasize speaking in English, that being the universal language. And I used to tell him that in school, we were already conversing in English, so at least at home, give a break!

It’s only after I cleared my X boards that I started talking to my grandma in Punjabi. I was hesitant initially, but the more I spoke, the more confident I became. That’s how happens with every language.

After my marriage, when we went to Shanghai, we were amazed to see the majority of the people didn’t know how to communicate in English. Being the world’s second-largest economy, people didn’t know English! We had troubles initially, but later on, it was fun. People of our age group and the elderly usually didn’t speak or know English so they would ask their school going children to be translators for us. At that time, I realised that no matter how much expert is a person in his/her native language, he/she must also be open to learning other languages, especially English, which is used globally.

We moved to Karnataka last year from NCR and chose CBSE board school for our elder son so that in future if we change the city, the board remains the same. However, recently, the state government has made the rule of making Kannada as the second language to be taught, replacing Hindi, (the first language being English). Currently, it’s being taught as the third language, where difficulty level is very low. With this news, we were initially perturbed, but later on were relieved when our son’s school agreed to continue Hindi language also, without changing its level. Children pick up languages so well and I am glad he’s getting exposure to a new language here. People often boast of schools teaching international languages, but I guess it’s always better to learn our regional languages first. However, making a particular language mandatory should not be the rule. In fact, the children should be free to choose any language at their will.

Culture should not be imposed. It has to be imbibed. As parents, we should speak to our children in the mother tongue more often. My son tries to speak in Punjabi with my parents and I encourage him to do that because that way he will become more confident as a learner. Who knows he might be a multilinguist one day!

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APOLOGISE WHEN YOU REALISE

Don’t say sorry too much”, I keep telling this to my 3 year old. He just says ‘Shoi Mumma‘, every time I raise my voice or make a sad face. I feel it’s because we use the word ‘sorry‘, quite often with our children.

With my 7-year-old, the case is different. For any antagonistic behaviour, he will say sorry only when we coax him. However, when he mellow down and realises his mistake, he apologises himself. This is what matters the most- realisation of one’s mistake.

No one is perfect. We are bound to commit errors, each one of us does. I wish we had erasers to erase our mistakes! Since that isn’t possible, the importance lies in realising our mistake and apologising as soon as possible.

At times I lose my control and shout at my children. At times when both of them are quarreling, I go mad and slap my elder son, even when the younger one is at fault. But, within minutes I realise my mistake and continue to apologise until he smiles back. The same thing happens when I am fuming with anger and feel sad about anything wrong that my kids have done, they will rehearse together and put up a small drama just to make me giggle.

Nevertheless, many situations come when elders are involved. Then comes our big egos in between when we feel that we won’t apologise simply because we are not at fault. There’s a cold war in the relations and then gradually the drift begins. So, just because we feel we are not at fault, should we forget the good attributes of that person? No, we can’t.

So, whether you apologise or not, better talk out your differences. Sometimes it’s just alright to have a difference of opinion and you can’t do anything about that, but to just let it be.

There are instances when there is a clash in the perspectives of our older generation and us. We say or do many things which we don’t realise, but, our parents/elders may feel offended. In that case, it’s always good to seek an apology from them, just out of respect.

And it’s not always necessary to use the word ‘sorry’, it just can be your behaviour that should speak.

MY DRIVING DREAM

One of the most cherished childhood memory is when one learns to ride a bicycle. I still remember when my father taught me how to ride my bicycle without supporters. He instructed that I have to take one round of the park and he will be holding the bicycle from the rear end. With hesitant and scared pedaling,  I started my way and was continuously telling my Papa not to leave his grip. When I was about to complete one round, I saw Papa standing at the start point and smiling at me. He said- “Look, you have learned to ride your bicycle yourself! “

Years later,  when I was officially an adult and riding my scooterette,  he coaxed me to learn his bike. Though I was hesitant initially,  he was sure that I will learn. And yes, I was riding his bike with gears all by myself! From 2 wheeler,  we progressed to 4 wheeler and he helped me to drive as well. Though he was always there to guide me, I couldn’t muster the courage to drive alone.

In after years,  when I moved to Dehradun,  my uncle helped me to gain confidence while reversing. He also let me drove his car in the enclosed township of his office. I was gleaming with joy and beaming with confidence. But,  only one thing was missing- the traffic! I knew how to drive, but not on the roads full of traffic.

After marriage and babies,  I wanted to be independent and so started taking lessons from driving school. The classes were over and the instructor told me that I only need to practice daily. Whoa!  Now that was tough. As they say – you cannot learn driving with your husband, I had no one else to look up to, who could go with me for my practice sessions. My husband tried to teach me though,  but with so many instructions simultaneously, I went berserk. With honking horns at traffic signals and following my husband’s diktat, my driving lessons became chaotic and stressful. Gradually, I lost confidence and hope. I don’t know whether I will be able to drive a car myself someday or not,  I feel it’s my unfulfilled dream. But “it’s only unfulfilled dreams that keep you alive”! So, probably, someday, somewhere, I will be driving my way through, all by myself.

ATTACHED TO MY MEMENTOS

Preserving souvenirs has always been my habit since teenage. I preserved every letter that I used to receive. For any chocolate that was gifted to me,  I used to preserve the wrapper. My diary notes, my to-do lists, greeting cards, newspaper articles that I liked, magazines… the list is endless. I still have the special edition of the newspaper on the Golden Jubilee of our nation’s Independence Day.  I even have the wake-up notes that I used to put up on my room’s door for my parents to wake me up as I used to study till late night. From small pebbles with a different appearance that I got from a couple of places to Deodar leaves I brought from Patnitop,  I have a lot of items in my memento folder. Years later, when I grew up, I started collecting the restaurant bills, especially when I ate with my husband before marriage. And now when I have kids, my focus has shifted to them as I have preserved their clamps from umbilical cords,  their first sippers, first birthday candles, milk teeth, scribblings, drawings, etc.

My memento folder is precious to me and yes I am attached to it,  though not too emotional about it simultaneously. I just love keeping them and feel great on having a look at those things after ages. Yes,  I was too emotional earlier for my stuff, but my thinking skewed a bit because of my husband. He says one shouldn’t be emotionally attached to non-living things as they are temporary. So,  your first bike, car, or house isn’t going to be forever with you, or you are not going to stick with those forever.

Children also get attached to their toys. There is one special toy which they will tag along wherever they go. But,  as they grow up, they develop new interests and forget about those special toys. We should also learn from kids and shouldn’t be too attached to non-living things. Because at the end people matter,  not material things.

KEEP UP THE FAITH

It’s time to bid adieu to this year and welcome the new year.  It’s time to recollect the best times that this year gave and to dream for the next year.

For me, 2018 started with new hopes and new beginnings,  while putting an end to the sorrows and sufferings. Though there were remarkable changes that I went through- settling into a new city,  moving from a joint family to a nuclear one, my tag being changed from working mom to a homemaker,  the end result was worth it as I was reunited with my husband after one year of staying apart. The year also witnessed some lows as I lost a beloved family member. But,  at the same time,  God was kind enough to bless our family with good news too.
To accomplish great things,  
we must not only act, but also dream, 
not only plan,  but also believe. 
– Anatole France.

The year taught me to keep dreaming, without losing hope.  God tested my patience and gifted what I had asked for. The biggest learning for me was- just keep going,  just like the time!

With new dreams,  new hopes,  but my same old self,  I will step into the new year.  So, I hereby wish everyone peace and prosperity for 2019. Just keep dreaming and keep the faith in Him.

SMIRK WHEN THE LIFE GIVES A JERK

I recently watched an amazing video by Dr Vivek Bindra,  a motivational speaker,  on the Battle of Chamkaur. It was a battle between the Khalsa, headed by the 10th Sikh Guru,  Guru Gobind Singh Ji and the Mughal forces. The Sikh army was just 42 in number,  whereas the Mughal army was around 1 million.

Unbelievable?  Yes,  it is. And the result of the battle was the victory of the Sikhs. Dr. Bindra states that during our tough times,  we easily give up and don’t try. But,  Guru Gobind Singh Ji was such a powerful leader that not only did he think about fighting against such an enormous number,  but also won the battle.

It is very easy to quit at the difficult situations we come across,  but to be patient and keep trying is the key. Life is full of struggles,  we get so many setbacks every now and then- be it at work,  at the career front or in relations. But there’s no point in complaining now and regretting later because you didn’t try.

I have a couple of heroes around me whom I simply adore. One of them was my colleague. I always saw her smiling,  laughing and making others laugh. Out of curiosity,  I once asked her how does she manage to be so chirpy. She told me that its God who has made her so strong. At the tender age of 14, some dacoits barged into her house and shot at her mom,  dad and sister. Her sister died on the spot,  while mom passed away 7 days later. Her dad recovered and remarried without even letting her know. Torn and devastated from inside,  my friend didn’t lose hope and courage. She managed to stand on her feet and became financially independent.

There’s another heroic example of my friend who was going to shift abroad,  but just a day before, her husband met with an accident and his leg had to be treated.  The operation went wrong and he is still recovering,  but he had to part away with his job. Not only the dream of settling abroad was crushed to pieces by the destiny,  the financial burden also came up to the family.  My friend mustered all her courage and took up a job.  She is now financially taking care of her family. And after all this,  she remains happy and makes us laugh with her one-liners. She says there is no point in crying and cribbing about the adversities in life because one can’t control it. What you can control is how you face the situation and how you fight against the odds.

So,  smirk when the life gives a jerk,
Rise up and don’t give up,
For this life is a game,
And it will never be the same.

LOVE FOR MEOWS AND WHISKERS

(Captured by Preeta Bhatnagar)

This picture was taken in January 2012, when I went to my hometown after the birth of my first son.

I feel our house is blessed because cats have been visiting us for generations (their)! I remember spending hours playing with kitties when I was a child. My adoration for them grew as I got older.

When I visited my parents with my 3-month-old,  I was delighted to see 4 cute kittens with their mom.  Jumping here and there,  playing with their mom’s tail, discovering sibling rivalry,  it was a treat to watch them having fun.  The mom cat remained serious,  while the baby kitties were too naughty.  They got a scolding also from my mom when they ruined her plants by digging the soil and sitting in the pot.  But,  nevertheless, they were too cute and would wake me up with their meows in the balcony. Whenever I visit my hometown,  there’s a cat in the house for sure and my son looks forward to play with it and feed milk and bread.