I’ve been reading The Rise and Fall of the Bilingual Intellectual by Ramachandra Guha and I’ve decided to take up a challenge, though I don’t know how far I’ll manage to adhere to facing it. As a bilingual, fluent in English and decent with my Hindi-Urdu-Mumbai Slang mashup, I’ve realized how wonderful it is to think in another language, which I’ve slowly begun to try, as I think majorly in English, a medium I am recently failing to write creatively with.
This non fictitious, faux academic style I use manages to lemon press quite a good part of my ability to write and I’ve always been rather pleased with this tone as I imagine myself to be typing this out whilst wearing a respectable tweed suit and a particularly dark shade of matte cranberry toned lipstick, taking strong and deliberate sips of earl grey from a teacup. The reality however is that I type this at my keyboard in greying (but extremely comfortable) pajamas, a cup of very milky coffee and nascent dark circles.
This stuff, I can write. The other stuff, the literary, novel, poetic, contemporary fiction stuff, has begun to fail me. Or rather, I have begun to fail them all, slowly and ashamedly, shrugging shoulders at their offered opportunities. So, after reading Mr. Guha’s analysis on how the ‘beauty and potency of intellectual and literary bilingualism’ is failing, especially in India, I have decided to twiddle my thumbs in negotiation with my Hindi-Urdu-Mumbai slang mashup and write in it, which is only possible if I think in it. Ya phir shayad usme sochna tabhi mumkin hoga, jab mein usme mein likhoongi?
Either way, tonight I pushed myself to compose something in the non lingua franca and I quite liked it, though it’s a small start. The rhythm and texture of Indian poetry seems unsurpassed, thick and sweet like the first extraction of coconut milk. A steady and flowing Narmada of sorts, fighting obstacles and running deltas across recitation, reading and heart.
Thus this endeavor has turned out to be a worthwhile exercise, a different brand of thought. It is something I urge you to try and never give up on, regardless of your mother tongue.
Sharm aati hai, yeh kehne mein
lavz apne aap doob jaate hai.
Yeh awaaz phaansi mein chup chuka
yeh desh dil se kab ka bikhar gaya
inn ungliyon ko pahoonchkar
anjaane muh se kahi nikal gaya.
Sharm aati hai, garm rakht iss chehre par
jo thi hamari aazaadi ki baarish.
Bhool gaye ho tum, apni bhoomi ki lakeerein
jisske biij aasmaan mein kabhi udte nahi
yeh bhaasha tumhe yaad aaye to sahi
yeh bhaasha tumhe yaad aaye to sahi.