Sunday, February 28, 2010
I grew up speaking Malayalam @ home. But the school where I studied insisted that we speak English. But who obeys school rules anyways? Besides there were so many in school who struggled with English that it was near to impossible or even outright impolite to try and converse in English with them. So we stuck to Malayalam. The speaking I mean. I was never taught to read or write malayalam @ school. And my parents din't insist either. Infact, my Dad was worried that too much exposure to Malayalam would ruin our English ( u know accent and all). But then each time me and my sister made a trip to my Dad's native place, we were made the butt of all jokes. We were given Malayalam books and were asked to read them or were given dictations to test our proficiency. Sometimes we were quizzed on our vocabulary and our ignorance were mocked at. Though we spoke Malayalam @ home, it was just the basic Malayalam. We rarely used extensive vocabulary. And at that point of time I started to despise Malayalam. Add to it the company of a bunch of people who thought low of Malayalam. Malayalam movies and Malayalam songs were a big No-No for them. And I was okay with that attitude as well.I din't love them either. I was completely captivated by the razmattaz of the Bollywood and their groovy moves. Malayalam movies lacked glamour and the actors sucked @ dancing. So I can't be blamed for disliking them, esply during those colourful teenage years.
And talking about the language... Though I spoke the language @ home, i wan't exactly comfortable with the language. I din't entirely think in my mother tongue. I din't always think in English too. I needed a mix of both to truly express myself. I needed Malayalam to crack a joke which can only be said in Malayalam. Translating it into any other language will end up killing it brutally. The joke I mean. But how can anyone express one's innermost feelings in Malayalam? U definitely needed English for that. You also needed English to touch upon more delicate subjects. How can u possibly say smthg as emotional as "I miss u" in Mal?It is going to be so corny. Or for that matter, smthg like "they are making out" in Malayalam? That is going to be ridiculous. For these reasons, I was in a way more comfortable with communicating in English. The language is more expressive and has a word for every action and emotion. Probably Malayalam has them too, but nobody knows them, atleast I don't. Or even the ones who know them don't seem to use them. It is all implied with unfinished sentences or silence.
Then life moved on. I met people who loved the language and sometimes not because they din't know English. Interactions with them made me more comfortable in Malayalam. I started watching movies that I once despised. I discovered the beauty of the language and its uniqueness through Srinivasan's ( his dialogues are still popular) movies and old malayalam songs. I never thought I would look up Malayalam song lyrics ( always the old ones, never the new) on the net. But these days I find myself doing that all the time. Recently an old favourite Keli Nalinam caught my attention and I fell in love with the song. The video is uploaded in u tube , I'm not able to add it here. Listening to this song reminded me of Neelathamara, a remake of another movie with the same title. I believe "Nalinam"( in Keli Nalinam) and Thamara( in Neelathamara) means the same - Lotus. But probably that is not why i was reminded of the movie. They both evoked the same feelings in me - a kinda wistful feeling. And Neelathamara is a movie set in a background which is not even remotely connected to my life. Yet, I could relate to every scene in that movie. Today, whenever I'm troubled, all I need to do is watch a Malayalam movie. The sense of comfort that it gives me is the same as getting home after a hectic day , sitting on my favourite chair and unwinding with a cup of coffee and foot massage! Bliss!