One life so far and i can't claim i have achieved much but i can fairly and proudly say i have enjoyed every experience. There were tough times but they only made me appreciate that i was the special-ly chosen one put to test because someone up there loves me a lot and the collective but individual loves of all the special people i love held me, took care of me and made me spring back whenever, wherever.
I was and am a lucky child, touchwood. Grew up with awe-inspiring but heart breaking tales from my folks that nothing came easy for them. My Pa did not have money to pay for his matric exams, only 50 rupees those days. His father (my late grandfather who lived an English gentleman's life) would not give him or allow other potential benefactors, the reason being studies can wait, the boy needs to apprentice with a vet. His dreams of conquering the skies piloted almost unsung. Ma had to trek 8kms up and down in dusty hawai sandals to reach that govt school, studying in a different medium other than the mother tongue (Bengali), sorry i am not talking about English. The pain of having to keep pace in English all of a sudden in college, thanks to ever changing rules and sudden change in affiliation. There was no concept of helpbooks or tuitions, no TV or lil' radio, very few newspapers and mags. I got all the guidance, went to a prep school, got my books and fees paid on time, avoided tuitions, went to tuitions (what drama and ritual, getting dressed and ready like it was matinee time), got my 1st chinese pen in class 4.
My Ma taught me my first ABC, got me double promoted in nursery. Pa taught me how to write short simple sentences but i end up writing wound up stuff. Pa fought with me not to do an Economics major but English. I love you, Pa. I am here today because of you. But it amuses me and endears me with so much of tender affection when my Ma shies away from speaking in English to/with my friends and over phone. There are times, she calls me up and gets her script ready and right when she is about to speak to new people in new places. I tell Ma, its ok nobody minds -- it was never your mother tongue, you can rightfully and willfully make a few errors. No one should get offended, it is just one form of gentle encouragement. Pa also avoids all the grandiose associated with having to communicate in English. But when he does, the man is a Gandhian... simple but hard hitting, tender and provoking. I have been bugging him to write, god only knows when he will pick up the pen.
I won't say i excelled in the subject or is it the language? But i had my own sweet way with it, loved playing around with the lil' vocab that i acquired and the parts of speech. I taught poetry and fiction to young collegians. Pa and Ma were very thrilled that their big lil' girl is a Ma'am in college, the dough was not great for starters but the satisfaction and smiles is a million bucks! Getting those roses and cards on Teachers' day was an added high but those marks and thank-you notes after exams was the ultimate reward. Research in English almost drained me out, all complicated theories why someone was inpired like that in a poem and all. It killed me that creativity was fighting for space with criticism. I also learned that criticism is not all anti and negative. It became very "yo" to be critically inclined since no one was creative any longer, ok a bad one. Struggled with my fledgling creative spirit and balancing off with the demands of research, problematising-the-issue as one of my theory friends puts it.
Thanks Pa, if not for my English background (yes, the placement of the adjective can be misleading)...i would not have ventured out and met a whole new world altogether. Yes, i was mourning that i was not selected for higher research, they told me i was still raw. Sulking did not help any cause. I decided to take a break from teaching and learning English. Google happened. Learned that i had to facilitate a new kinda English in whatever capacity -- Global English (psst..actually Amrikan English catering to Amrikan clients based there). Ok, felt like it was a very glam-sham posh call center thing (the calls happen later on Avaya deskphones when one gets promoted, they call it direct sales) with sophisticated methods and means. Pardon my analogy. The point is, i learnt a lot of English-es, regional flavours and tweaked ones too! Found it extremely amusing how one and all take the language for a ride and also, everyone is a champion in mastering the language -- the excellent emails and the awesome test-scores, the blogs and the status messages and the ultimate showcase stuff, pick up a twisted, clipped accent in a whirlwind overseas visit of 15 days -- the uhms and the not-so-Phoebe like ahans. Oh, we all lou our Eng'leash'.
My English also underwent a Hyd'badi makeover. Pa and Ma feel i speak with a South Indian accent. They are aware that a Kannada is different from a Telugu as much as a Malayalee is from a Tamil. But you get the drift...Whatever it is, my lou for English got me a research registration at my alma mater which will help build a writing environment -- yes, i want to write in English whatever and anyever (some exercise of crass liberty here) i know in other languages too. I also pray in English. Of course, distressing prayers are in my mother tongue. I know how to speak and also, slang (using it as a verb,allow me this one as well) in my native tongue (everyone does, even in other languages) but mastering the 10k lettered stick shaped script is beyond me.
These experiences of pride and prejudice about the language has taken me to a new pinstripe turn, kinda back to where i was, where my heart was, where i initiated with teaching ABC to kindergarten smarties and now, playing-blogging with the letters and the words.
Yesterday was my first day of learning at school, stripped and shorn of all virtual and superficial essence. There was the fear of treading new ground with no Pa and Ma around. Today was my first day of badging at work, in the hallowed world of teaching at college. Met no students at the gate to greet me or smile at me. The bland gate took me in, the freshly watered garden promised me lovely blooms, the wind whispered the monsoons are on their way to give me wonderful company with chaiand pakoda. The quiet corridors, windswept with light blossoms told me not to worry, the guardian angel is watching over me. It was a new world of shared lunches, protective concern to the point of baby-ing me, ma'am-ing me at my so-called glorious achievement, gentle nudging and teasing to make me feel at home as one of their own, my own, our own.