Kashmiri! I’m Loving It!
We thrive in our language and our culture. Our language and our culture thrives in us
This is a story that we all have heard during our childhood. I am reminded of this story – the story of the boy who cried wolf – when I hear Kashmiris expressing their worry that Kashmiri language is perishing in some way or is suffering. Have you all seen articles in newspapers saying how our mother tongue, the Kashmiri language, is in danger of perishing? To me it is like people crying wolf when there isn’t any real threat.
On the contrary, I feel so happy and proud to see my beloved mother tongue thriving and flourishing in our valley. Our mother tongue is the favourite mode of communication across Kashmir, and that is just the way it should be.
Schools Insist Upon English Usage, And That’s Fine
During my childhood, I was a student in a missionary school in Sopore. Within the school campus, students were supposed to speak only in English. The reason was that the school wanted us to be fluent in English. This was fine with the parents too. We all know that the global language is English, and fluency in English gives a person a definite edge.
We also know that since English is not our mother tongue, a child shall be able to attain fluency in it only with regular communication in the language. Since our school forced us to speak in English, I learned to read, write and interact in English with ease.
Does this mean I forgot my own language? Certainly not. Since childhood, I interact with my family and my Kashmiri friends in my mother tongue. But I don’t know why people make an issue out of it. It’s like we have fallen into a parrot-like rote.
Even now, we have schools where the management insists that the students must talk in English. Every time people in the society hear of this, they start comments like these schools are out to make the children angrez, and make them forget their mother tongue.
It’s strange how the minds of these people work. They think that communicating in English will make us Englishmen or Englishwomen.
It Is Great To Know Multiple Languages
I have a niece aged six. Her Dadi is comfortable only in Kashmiri, so she talks to the child in Kashmiri. The mother interacts with the child in English or Urdu. So now the child is comfortable and speaks fluently in all the three languages. And that is a wonderful thing – that a six-year-old can speak fluently in three languages. When I was her age I would have loved to be fluent in three languages.
Why Do We Regard Other Languages As A Threat?
I have observed it too many times that whenever any person who is a Kashmiri speaks in any other language, he or she is made fun of for doing that. They are referred to as angrez in a very degrading manner.
Strangely, I was called an angrez for carrying an umbrella during a hot day for protecting myself from the heat. This is so funny. Is it a bad thing to be able to communicate in multiple languages? I don’t think so. Many people will agree that it is actually a good thing to be able to communicate in multiple languages.
I had once read an article in The Hindustan Times on language. In that writeup, a faculty member from the Department of Kashmiri in University of Kashmir had said, “While concerns about the state of the (Kashmiri) language are genuine, there is no need for alarmist pessimism. As long as Kashmiri is spoken by the masses, by the man on the street and by the workers in farms, it will be an organic entity of our culture”.
I find that in our homes, children speak in Kashmiri, and that is a wonderful thing. Within Kashmir, people of all ages speak to each other in Kashmiri, and that too is a wonderful thing. It should be so. We must be proud of our language and our culture. There is no need to be pessimistic about the future of Kashmiri because we all love our mother tongue and we communicate with each other in our mother tongue.
Non-Locals Speak Kashmiri
I am pursuing my doctorate degree in Jammu, so I am here for a good part of the year. Jammu is also the favourite destination of many Kashmiris during winter. Since the government moves here in winter, the people in Jammu are familiar with the Kashmiris. Many shopkeepers in the busy Jammu markets have picked up words from our language.
I have observed that when I go to Raghunath Bazar or some other busy Jammu market, the shopkeepers greet us in Kashmiri. They also try to speak to us in Kashmiri so that the shoppers may feel more comfortable at their store. I am proud and happy to say that I do not find Kashmiri to be declining. I am proud to see Kashmiri finding its essence on new tongues.
Credit To KPs For Keeping Alive The Language
Though the Kashmiri Pandits were driven out of their homeland, they still speak in their mother tongue. The Kashmiri Pandits who are living in Jammu city or have moved to other parts of India still speak in Kashmiri. Every time I meet a KP in Jammu – be it a young person or an old one – they always interact with me in Kashmiri. I have a friend named Aditya Koul. He is a KP and always talks to me in Kashmiri. We do this especially when we don’t want other people to know what we are talking about. Kashmiri language is like our Morse code. It is the same with many Kashmiris who reside in different states of India. We are proud of our language and our culture. We thrive in our language and our culture. Our language and our culture thrives in us.
Kashmiri Language Events
In the last few years, many fests have been organized in different states of India where Kashmiri singers have put up wonderful performances. Every time there is an event in different colleges or universities in India, Kashmiri students always perform their cultural dances. Our singers sing their folk songs in Kashmiri. That is how we keep our culture and language alive.