Sunday, March 28, 2010

Are we losing mother tongue?

By the time Shyamoli Panchal returns home each evening she has miraculously mutated from an eight-yearold schoolgirl to a knocked-around war veteran. Her knees are bruised and often bleeding, her socks are gathered in an ungainly heap at the bottom of her legs, and her ponytail, neat and shampoo-shining in the morning, is shapeless and wild.

Invariably hungry, the first thing she does when her mother greets her at the door is demand food. "Aaje khavama shu che (what’s there to eat)? " she asks in Gujarati, the language of her father. And whatever her Bengali mother has made, the little girl is never happy. "Anathi vadhu rasprad biju kayi na hoi shake (couldn’t there be anything more interesting)? " she asks. And, adds for dramatic effect. "Hu ketli mehanat karu chu and thame mane aavu aapo cho (I’m studying so hard and this is what you give me)."

But Sadanand and Mousami, the tiny tyrant’s indulgent parents, don’t mind. "She’s quite a handful and can make things pretty chaotic around the house, but when she speaks in Gujarati it makes up for everything," Sadanand, a chartered accountant working in Delhi since 2000, says. "Her grandparents, who live in Gujarat, are ecstatic to know that Shyamoli continues to make life miserable for us in the language of her forefathers."

Full report here Times of India Crest 

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