Mind Your Language




Three lovely languages I profess to know:
English taught by pious habit-clad nuns
Who insisted we speak English at school
Or they raised a livid eyebrow

Teachers with foreheads adorned with velvet bindis
Traipsing about in starched crisp saris
Circles of sweat streaking their cotton blouses
Taught us the grammar and nuances in Hindi

Urdu, the sweetest and mellowest one
Was taught by my enthusiastic and erudite grandpa
Always peddling life’s lessons for free
The man’s wisdom compared to none

He taught us the alphabet: aleph, bey, tey, sey
Emphasizing that pronunciation is key
A word holds its meaning
Only in how the listener hears you say

He tirelessly corrected improper diction
With an infectious laugh that started in his soft eyes
A fistful of pennies he dangled
For a perfectly transcribed dictation

Grandpa translated Ghalib and Meer for us
As mellifluous ghazals and nazms filled our house
He was our Wikipedia and our Google
Anxious to teach, enlighten and discuss

Urdu, the language of regard and respect
Pays homage to human dignity
Each word dunked in pure honey
Makes an insult almost impossible to detect

But mispronunciation of Urdu has always irked me
I’ll tell you not only once, but hazaar (not hajjaar) times
Now is the waqt(not wakt) to learn or
Just be content with daal if you cant handle the sabzi(not sabjee)

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.

Published on the Aerogram

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