And it started very casually. He asked, “Can’t you chat in Nepali?’, to which I replied, ” Yeah. Why not? But I feel a little more comfortable this way.” – again in English. He gave up.
It was just a normal conversation with a friend of mine on Facebook . But it’s not the first time that I have received a sarcasm as such. Naturally, I felt a little offended- both by him and by many people who led My thoughts to spring from My mind in a Not My (foreign) language. As I look back on the series of my life events that made me uncomfortable with my own language, I remembered my school. I studied in a small private school in my early years. I had 8 subjects in total and 7 out of them were in English medium. The Nepali book, as its name already suggests, was the only one in My medium. I wrote my exams in English for all seven of them. The worst part was we weren’t allowed to even speak in Nepali during the entire school hours. Then came high school- 10 subjects in total and 9 out of them were in English medium. And came college-40 courses and 0 in Nepali medium.
After putting a learning being under 16 years of formal education in one language, she becomes comfortable with it naturally, I suppose. Again, some argue that there are so many people who master several languages and are totally comfortable with their own tongues. Well, in my defense, I have got nothing more than to just put my hands up, surrender and say that I am not that smart. I am a mediocre and just happened to be more inclined to a foreign language than to My language because I was trained that way from my childhood.
I belong to a Newar community but I don’t know how to speak in Newari language. I never really had a chance to study Newari in school or in high school. Nobody neither talked to me in Newari when I was small nor taught me how to speak in my native language. It’s not that I didn’t try but it’s just I couldn’t. I am still trying but it falls nowhere near my comfort level. I know it sounds bad but I am in peace with it because I can speak and understand Nepali and it is good enough for me. The irony is I was trained to think and interpret in English but now expected to express in Nepali. Just as I wasn’t taught to speak in Newari, I wasn’t trained to express myself better in Nepali. That’s all.
When someone tries to question my love for my country with respect to the language I was trained in, I feel offended and somehow enraged. Can a language change what you feel from the depths of your heart? Does speaking a foreign language make you any less of a Nepali? Is it imperative to communicate in your national language only to convince others of your love for your country? If yes, why was I punished for speaking My language in school? Why all of my subjects were in a foreign language ? Why did my teachers trained me in a foreign language? Why was I fined Rs. 5 for talking to my friends in My language in school? Why did people frown when I answered a question in a competition in My language? Why were my seniors so proud when I gave speeches in a foreign language? Why was I pushed towards the delusion of superiority of a foreign language from the very beginning ? Who made me this way?
There happened a time when a friend of mine had some serious moments. She could not express her trauma and terrible experience during and after the quake. And when she finally let her feelings out (in not My language), she found peace and inner strength. Yes, there are people like us. We talk in Nepali all the time but whenever we want to express ourselves from the depths, we find Our language difficult. My vocabulary is not good at all in Nepali and it is frustrating to find the right words to express myself. In the quest of finding right words, I didn’t pay much attention to the right language. Not to mean that one language is more right than any other.
What’s been done is done. Lets move towards a more holistic approach. Languages were discovered by humans to communicate effectively with fellow humans. That was the sole purpose of every language spoken in every part of the world. It evolves and modifies according to the time and trends. If one can convey her feelings and ideas in any understandable language, isn’t it a fair bargain? For everyone who have been trained differently like me, the language doesn’t matter much. What matters is its true meaning. Let us not offend or ridicule anyone in any language and let us keep spreading compassion in every language- it matters most! If you say, you love your country in any language- be it English, Spanish, Japanese or Chinese, its meaning remains unaltered. Language doesn’t define you; you define language.
Most importantly, let us all speak the language of love. It is the truest of all!