Neither Here Nor There!

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Jane was a simple girl, with an impressive personality. She always had a lot of pride for her Mother tongue.  A word against konkani and that would only stir up a good deal of argument. No one dared to speak against Konkani. If I were to marry, I would marry only a Manglorean, was her favorite statement. Oh! Lord save us from this torture, the rest of the group agonized. The way she behaved was obvious; should she not find an eligible bachelor (eligible for her means a Mangaloren), she would stay unmarried. Most of my friends used to hate her for this kind of approach. They even balked her amity. They termed her Pro-Mangalore-Activist.

Soon after our graduation, each one set out with his or her own line of business, some took up fashion designing, while a few others flew either to UK or Australia. E-mail was the only mode of communiqu?. I am not aware about the others but I used to often write to Jane to which she responded contentedly.

Jane ensued her further studies from Pune University. Those days, she met Cherian. They both were doing their MBA from the same university and that is how they met. Soon this meeting turned into a relationship. Much to the disappointment of their parents, they tied knot, four years ago.

He is a Keralite, she said. Whaaaaaaat??? It seemed as if words were not coming out, what did you say Jane; I questioned trying to bury my embarrassment. Cherian is from Cochin, she said forlornly. So what? Are you not happy with him? Yes, but ? I knew what she wanted to say. I cut off the conversation just to avoid the discomfiture.

A few days later, we both met again, this time she seemed more convinced, what is wrong in being a Keralite she questioned out of the blue?  I remained wordless. Keralite? What is wrong with it, is he not one like you and me, I stammered. Then, why is this disparity between Keralites and Mangaloreans? Both of the communities for all the time seem to be nitpicking each other. Each of them thinks that they are better off. I was bemused at her methodology. It seemed as if all of a sudden Kerala became ?the most? beautiful place on the earth. Where is the devotion gone? Is not she the same Pro-Mangalore-Activist? Or is she now a Pro-Kerala-Activist? I pondered.

Stop being gibberish and for heaven?s sake stop justifying. Now tell me how does feel to be a part of a very new culture? She paused for a while and then continued it is tough, my friend. Life seemed very complicated when I first visited my in-laws in Kerala.  They disliked me like anything for being a Mangalorean. I was asked to cook, while they made all kinds of comments ridiculing me. I hardly followed a bit of their language. For the first time I felt wish, I had known a bit of Malayalam. While the whole family was chatting collectively, I used to stay mute gazing at each one, as if pleading to sympathize with me for not being able to speak Malayalam. Mother tongue seemed to be important tool of weighing up. My simplicity, courteousness, thoughtfulness, education, aptitude was all zilch to them as I was not a Keralite. . It was humiliating; I could take no more and somehow convinced Cherian to curtail our stay.

My parents were neither happy with Cherian, they always carped about him. Love is blind. I had not contemplated about all this until that time.  We both were madly in love with each other and never bothered to look into the drawbacks.

We are staying disjointedly far from Mangalore and Kerala. My parents and in-laws visit us once in a blue moon and we are happy with it.    I speak a bit of Malayalam and so does Cherian speak a bit of Konkani. My little one, Viju is in KG, he is an expert. Expert at what Jane, Malayalam, or Konkani I asked eagerly. English, he is an English Expert she giggled. My poor child can neither speak Konkani nor Malayalam.  ?Galtha pole Talail? is his punch liner. It is sad that he can neither speak Konkani nor Malayalam. There is little I can do about it, she said being more defendant of her act.   Magan, yaa ghi ami (son, shall we leave now), she called her little one as she set out to go.

Who are we to blame for?  Mixed marriages are breeding children who speak neither the mother tongue of the father or the language of their mother ?s hometown.  When two mother tongues meet, the result is a third language. In the bargain, both the languages are forgotten. Sociologists are calling it a linguistic cultural quandary, that may not be ideal for those keen on a sense of identity and rootedness. But there seems to be little room for our mother-tongue in todays world. Magan yaa ghi ami, is not this enough to prove how parents themselves are responsible for this. Let us speak one language at a time. Just by trumpeting, that we are patriotic is of no use.

Author: Juliet Gomes- UAE

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