Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Mother Tongue or Father Tongue???

My mother tongue is Konkani, Abbas’s is Bengali. What should our kids’ be??

When I first held my daughters in my arms in the nursing home, I saw other moms around communicating with ease with their just borns. I was a confused mom. I didn’t know what to speak to them. And most importantly which language to speak! I was surprised at myself having never thought about it before. I found myself in the dumbest situation ever. I just held them staring and stroking their head, cheeks, letting their small fingers clutch my index finger. And that was all! But fellow moms were conversing with their infants as though with any other human being around…

I seriously put myself to think, and think hard! What am I gonna do? It felt weird to talk to them in Konkani at the risk of my Bong family doubting my sanity. If I was not gonna speak in my mother tongue then I decided I will not speak Abbas’s mother tongue as well. Should I speak to them in English then??? No… Somehow it didn’t appeal to me. Let me choose my national language!!! Yes Hindi - it had to be.

Many of my relatives tell me “Charduvanka amchigele shikkovka go” (You must teach Konkani to your kids) and many of my Bong acquaintances insist on speaking to them in Bengali. I speak a very fluent Bengali, I can read the language as well. But Mantam have enough people around them who already converse with them in their father tongue. I can’t converse in Konkani coz it creates a lot of confusion when other people under the same roof don’t understand a single word in my mother tongue. They hear Bengali, Hindi and English at home. And ever since they started going to day care, they were exposed to Kannada, Tamil, Malayalam and Telugu as well. One day I asked them, “Ye chahiye?” (Do you want this?) and the response was “Venda Yenaka”! (I don’t want) I was stunned although I know Tamil as well. The funniest part is when they talk to each other they speak none of the 7 languages and it’s a delight to listen to their discussions.
Most often than not, I understand all that Mantam try to say. Other people around look at me helplessly to comprehend their complex speech. That’s because, any given sentence of theirs will have words from atleast 2 languages and sometimes even scale up to 5 languages. I call their mode of communication ‘Khichdi’.

Some sample sentences:

·         Mujhe sleeping paaya hai
·         Ei uncle motte hai (Ei = This, Motte = Bald)
·         Illi Vaa and sit down
·         Aaj school jabo na? Happy ho jabo
·         Main milk pilbo na (Now pilbo is not even a word in any language)
·         Mamma amake pakadbo, nahi to main fell down hobo.
·         Mere chul mein Juttu daalbo na? (Chul = Hair, Juttu = Pony)

Fun no? On a serious note, could someone please please tell me what should I mention their mother tongue to be in official records?


RS said...

Heheh - I know what you are talking about. Sometimes I wold just understand based on the context when Tammu spoketo me Mannu hardly did!

And it IS a tough question for you...

Seema Kamath alias Seema Abbas Ali said...

Yes, at times it works wonders in saving me embarrassment in public.

For now I just wanna let it be and leave it to time for them to choose the language which they are comfortable speaking!