Sunday, September 18, 2011

The most beautiful language of them all

Sometimes I wonder
What if I had grown up
learning, speaking and thinking
in Hindi, Urdu, Arabic
and Hindi-Urdu-Arabic alone?
What if I never learnt English
all my life?
Never spent class seven
agonising over modals, adverbs
conjunctives, prepositions
and a dirty red Wren and Martin?
What if I never read
Austen, Dickens, Conrad
The Bard, Keats-Shelley-Yeats
And not to mention
Kafka, Gogol, Balzac
all translated
into a language not my own?

What if, instead
I grew up reading Ghalib
Chughtai, Premchand
Suryakant Tripathy Nirala
Iqbal, Mir Taki
Mir and
Mahadevi Verma
and not their recreated
translations I read

Would my life be any better
more exquisite, meaningful
richer, varied
than now?
Would my inner world
be composed of
characters who speak
in metaphors, of a tedi ungli,
adrak ka svaad
and unitalicised

Would I think different thoughts
or the same
in different ways?
Or would I feel handicapped
trapped in my language
the most beautiful of them all
a wallflower in a world
which speaks a foreign tongue?

Perhaps I shall never know
that feeling of letting go
this language
which has slinked into my thoughts
my words, my indignation
and poetry,
only to embrace another one
live within its walls
exalted, empowered
and hidden.