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Hindi Living in Exile…

opinionHindi Living in Exile…

Who does not know that with time language grows, evolves; new words come into being, old words, grown archaic are put to disuse, occasionally aired if the need arises or then, if grown obsolete consigned to the grave. Words, have a way of coming alive, birthing on their own without a visit from the stork. Their genesis lies with the changing times—time, that zig zags with unpredictable, boundless energy, more so in this past decade. The prodigious addition of words, besides the way they are weaved into sentences happens to be on account of Globalisation. Of assimilating into a composite global culture. Fine. Long before we had, with growing gusto, gone global, each year a good number of fresh words from varied shores found their way to the Oxford dictionary—the bible of all wordbooks. Twenty odd years back, I indeed was surprised, while flapping through the dictionary to find words such as kamarband, bandhgala. Yes, it did take me more than a few minutes to comprehend these very own, home-born words supersizing the dictionary. Needless to say, I could hear the sound of my face crinkling into a parading, reaching-the-eyes smile. Words such as Mogul, Guru, Mantra,Yoga sauntered their way into the lexicon a long time ago. So, we had T.V. anchors the world over talking about Mogul Bill Gates or Steve Jobs, with Yoga mats flying off the shelves, not only in green-tea swivelling sun-kissed California but in Robert Frost’s Snowy Mountains of Vermont as well. Could go on…charpoy, chup, natak, dadagiri, bapu, abba, achcha, chai, gulab jamun, to name a few. So here we, I am assuming, are more or less clear regarding of how words from all over the world—on account of the amalgamated potpourri cocktail culture—chat companionably while seated comfortably next to hard-core, dyed-in-the-wool Angrezi terms, expressions…now to set sail the boat that’ll journey us on the trip intended. Hindi—unblended and simple—wherever, did it go!? Search high and low, that too with a Search Team in tow, and still find no or little sign of it…What did you say—I must be coasting this pen with a mind gone woozy, courtesy these long-drawn-out Lockdown working-from-home days?! (`Blursday’, stumbled across this word a couple of months ago, where with the pandemic shutting the world down, such haziness had set in making one pause for a good couple of minutes, to find out whether it was a Monday or a Thursday!)  No, so far, no Blursday for me, so I am still functioning with a mind that is not overcast, now thus, time to drop the anchor and set sail…Hindi our Rashtra Bhasha. (The South, vocally differs on this.) In the North—Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Himachal, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar etc. and etc., Hindi is the mother tongue, spoken and taught in schools from day one. (Here, not bringing in the countless dialects spoken in different regions of the mentioned states, or that, by and large, if one knows Hindi, the ears do not have to strain themselves to comprehend the gist of Punjabi communication…) Ah, Mumbai slipped my mind. This city—which once-upon-a-time before the Bombay Blasts—revelled over its cosmopolitan complexion, continues to converse in a kind of hybrid Hindi. Munch on this: ‘Kahe ko khaali peeli time kharab karta hai’, ‘Kidar ko jaata hai re?’ These sentences chattering away, clueless of gender…could be babbling on with anyone! As they say, Bombay still is ‘bindaas’. But I, not by a far measure, can afford to meander and drift to another port as is my propensity despite repeatedly reminding myself to remain roadstead, steering clear of swerving. So back to beginning about our Non-Hindi Hindi conversations…Colours have lost their names—one rarely hears ‘laal’, ‘peela’, ‘neela’. It is, ‘Yeh red shirt’, ‘Aap ka face red hai, Aap fine feel kar rahen hain’? Go to a Saree showroom of the Nalli likes. Ask for an `Asmani Neeli Saree’ and 8 times out of 10, the salesperson, gushing with effusiveness, draws a blank. Sky-blue, does this ring a bell and he, with sparkly-eyed excitement, loses no time in producing a dozen of sky-blue yards of silk. Go to a salon and though the lady only is there to get the hair trimmed, shampooed and blow-dried, a beautician —for demoralising her, the motive being a good-sized tip if ensnared—arrives on the scene to exclaim, `Face tan ho gaya, Aap ka face needs thorough scrub and massage’. Hello?? A 12-word sentence with the 7 main communicatory words in English?! And how cacophonic does this kind of language sound?! Unbearable to the ears, don’t you think? Hindi becoming defunct, rapidly being wiped out, being parcelled out for good?! Certainly so, at the spoken level by the general public in urban cities and towns. And how did this happen and why? Does speaking in this fashion elevate us, make us feel better qualified, educated?! English considered superior to all other languages?! Some might say that it is Hinglish but…but seriously?! Need not have wandered out of one’s four walls: Seema, my maid, who has been with us for nearly seven years suddenly has taken to banishing Hindi…I believe that it must be the influence of her two teenaged daughters who have completed their schooling. So, it’s, ‘Ab cooking start karoon’, ‘Time waste kaam’ `Aap fresh ho jayen, new towel washroom mein hai, tea be ready hai!’ Good Gawd! Speak of extermination! It’s always kitchen never rasoi, bucket not balti, milk never doodh, soap not sabun. Speaking of Soaps, far too many of our serials take not the cake but the bakery. Releasing a smattering before I call it a day: a beatific, bespectacled boy squeaking to his Mum, ‘Mein bad boy hoon, isliye family like nahin karti hai’. A would-be groom prodding his weepy-faced fiancée to cheer up, ‘Smile karo, toh good feel karoge’ Yet here’s the King of Kings, and if we are on the same page, may make you grind your jaw so hard that might cause concern for those molars: ‘Jo front mein new car ja rahi hai, uske tyres wobble kar rahen hain?’
This, no interbreeding of Hindi and English! Making mincemeat of Hindi?! Showing it the cold-shoulder, casting it off?! Mongrelising it?! Again, I ask, why ever so?!Answers, anyone?!

Dr Renée Ranchan writes on socio-psychological issues, quasi-political matters and concerns that touch us all.

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