Monday, December 31, 2012

Humko Hindi Nahin Aata hai.. Or Aati hai.. Or whatever

      It was my turn. The directors were as anxious and nervous as I was. My co-actors were already done with their lines. I had practised my lines extremely hard. I had read and re-read my lines several times to avoid faltering. I stood in the middle of the classroom to read out my lines. In front of me stood 3 directors: 1 Tamilian and 2 Marathi people. The classroom went silent. I closed my eyes for a while to become the character – the mean producer – while I heard my own voice speak : “Arey.. Tum toh bade jaldi aa gaye.. Is baat pe tumhe toh medal milna chahiye..”, I finished my line and looked at everyone and at their reaction. There was silence for 2.5 seconds. Then there was a burst of laughter resounding in the classroom. Tarun was literally ROFLing. Chingi guffawed like a Kookaburra. One of the Marathi directors just twitched her eyebrows and smirked. The Tamilian director however did not know what was happening. I waited for this community laughing to die down which eventually did happen after a good 1.5 minutes. I asked Tarun , “Now can you take some pains to explain your ROFLing?”. Tarun said ,” Arey baba.. It is medal milni chahiye and not medal milna chahiye”. Chingi said amidst his guffawing ,”Arey yaar Manav. Tu toh Hindi ki Maa behen ek kar di.. (Hey Manav.. You just unified mom and sister of Hindi)”. I was blinking with a blank mind and still could not fathom what was happening. Sampath came to me and scribbled on the script that I had with necessary changes. He said, “Yaar don’t worry.. This happens.. Now try again”. I wasn’t convinced. I asked, “I’m sorry for the grave mistake, if any. But can someone please explain the logic behind making that distinction so that I don’t unify Hindi’s maa and behen the next time?”. Rosy took the initiative and explained- “Arey Manav, It is simple. See, can you say medal milna hai? No.. You can just say medal milni hai.. Can you say pen meri hai? No.. You can only say pen mera hai..Can you say Yeh chair mera hai? No.. You can only say chair meri hai..”
Me: “Ya right.. I just understood that crime after my dialogue delivery. My question is HOW did you make that distinction?”
Rosy: “Arey yaar.. It’s easy.. It just doesn’t seem right while you are speaking.. Medal does not go with milna.. Medal goes well with milni.. pen does not go well with meri.. It matches well only with mera.. In the same way it doesn’t seem right to match chair with mera.. It has to be meri..”
Me: “Is it a god damn colour-combination to match 2 word items before making a statement? Tell me how in the world did you find out the gender for that god damn non-living thing..”

   My tryst with Hindi took a major hit with the last question that I asked. ‘How do you find out the gender of a non-living thing?’. A million answers for this same question on Google website reveals that this is the same challenge that millions like me are facing. To talk about that fateful day, needless to say, I did not get an answer from anyone for my question. Tarun ROFLed more, Chingi guffawed his breath out but no one answered. Rosy gave me more examples about what feels right while speaking and what doesn’t and which word goes well with which word but did not give me logic behind the feeling of that rightness. Chingi went onto give an awesome explanation which I can never forget. The creator of Hindi would have liplocked Chingi for that explanation for he never would have come up with such an explanation in his lifetime. Chingi said – “Manav yaar.. Look at the curves of the medal.. Do you think it can be a male? No.. It can only be a female.. Take another example.. Hmm.. Bottle.. Look at the curves.. It can only be a female yaar.. Simple.. Try this on 2-3 different items and you will master in this area ”.. I had nothing else to say.. He left me with no choice than to conclude that there was no more meaning left with this life.. He might have said this with the right spirits, but what about my spirit of learning Hindi? It got smashed..It gets smashed every time when I come to a dead end with this limitation of Hindi. Do you even realise how lame it looks when you have to categorize objects into masculine and feminine gender? Medal is a female? Seriously? So what did Miss Medal wear today? Spaghetti? Oh wow!!! It always looks good on Miss Medal.. How’s her health? Did she buy that lipstick she always wanted? Bullcrap..
Who came up with such a rule? Kill them first.. Then kill those people who agreed to that rule and followed it religiously without questioning.
This is not the first time I am facing this problem. It started years ago when I was learning Sanskrit grammar. I always fought with my mom over this rule and even cried over this injustice. I always wanted to tell Panini – Father of Sanskrit – “Look Mr.Panini.. With all due respect to your knowledge on creating such a language, I know that you are not a dumb person.. But please tell me what were you thinking while you were making this rule? Or is it that your assistants wrote it in your thesis papers just to piss around while you were not around? This is taking a toll on the world.” Look at this country. Half of its population is speaking something without knowing why or how they are speaking whatever they are speaking. During my conquest I asked many people for an appropriate answer. All I got were extreme vague answers. The only time when something made sense was when a Tamilian appeared in front of me and uttered as if he was just possessed by Socrates’ spirit. He said – “Pehle Hindi ko Sudharna chahiye.. Phir hum zaroor Sudhrenge..(Hindi has to change.. Only then can we change..)” I looked at Socrates with extreme devotion. Virtually I fell to his feet in  Saashthaanga yoga pose.

     There is one more problem in this ‘object genderification’ (the problem is as cruel as ‘gender objectification’). Gender for objects is different for different Hindi speaking population. Maadu once was asking me to pass her bag.. She said , “Zara mera bag pass karna..(Hey.. Please pass my bag)”..
     Dilly Billy overheard what she said and corrected her, “Arey baba.. Bag MERA nahin hota hai.. Bag MERI hoti hai.. (Hey.. Bag is not male-mine.. Bag is always female-mine..)”.
    “Nahin toh.. Hamare yahaan Bag MERA hi hota hai..(No. Bag is male-mine according to how people in my place speak..)” said an offended Maadu..
     “Arey baba.. Then Tumhaare wahaan galat bolte hai.. Kyun ki Bag hamesha MERI hoti hai..(Oh. Then people in your place speak incorrectly, because Bag is always Female-mine..)” explained the cool Dilly Billy.. Maadu and Dilly Billy gave a cold look to each other and turned their heads away from each other. I was sitting clueless in the middle with that Bag in my hand.
        So now the gender changes with different geographical locations as well. This was getting serious. It was not the limitation with my knowledge. It was a limitation with the people who were speaking that language. Human interactions were getting tense due to a limited and a vaguely defined rule. I wanted to end this confusion once and for all and save the agony that people of this country were facing. I thought I’ll research this language and get to the basics of every rule.

     I started by googling and read many articles on ‘language’. I read on differences between a ‘gender’ and a ‘sex’ and the means to differentiate both in a language. Then I got into varied definitions of various language experts like Zubin, Dixon and Corbett over their definitions of language and the relationship a gender has with a language. I was happy with the way things were getting clearer. I also read about a linguistic theory called ‘Sapir- Whorf hypothesis’ which dealt with the language and the perception of the speaker. On this same theory there was an experiment conducted on Hindi and Thai language speakers. The result for this elaborate experiment also revealed some numbers regarding the Hindi speakers who were gender-markers and the Hindi speakers who were sex-markers. As the details were getting more elaborate, the language experts were close to cracking the secret I was waiting to be cracked for long. After closely analysing the results and explaining them in detail, the experts came to a conclusion that there is ‘nothing wrong’ in calling any object with any gender; it is only a matter of something called a ‘language agreement’ between the speakers, that mattered while speaking a language. This meant that if I along with a few other non-Hindi speakers agree within us that a ‘medal’ is a ‘male’ and use it in our further conversations, then there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. This meant that there was nothing wrong with what I spoke while learning Hindi all along. This meant that the dominant group laughed all along without any reason. This meant that the dominant group decided the gender for all the objects among themselves just to piss around with learners like me. My heart went pitiful for all those people who got victimised and get victimised day-in and day-out by the dominant group by the means of their ‘object genderification’. My research into the basics left me with one final thought :
 “Humko Hindi indeed Kabhi nahin aayega.. Or aayegi.. or whatever..”
All  events appearing in this work are fictitious in nature. Any resemblance are just exaggerated versions of real life incidents

1 comment:

  1. I am also one of your kind...

    I was with my GM for team dinner, as general question he asked me "Do you know Hindi?"
    I said "Yea, I do..!"
    The next question is "Tell me in Hindi!"
    I said "Mujhe Hindi aata hai.."

    He literally trolled and LOL`d at me...and the rest is ROFLing.