Saturday, 8 July 2017


Language. Something that I have always taken for granted. Maybe, because I have always had complete command over the ones spoken around me. Having lived all my life in one place, I took language as a part of me – it was there but invisible, maybe in the background, silent and quiet.

It is only when you are put up at a place where you don’t know the language at all that you realize how big a role it can play. It is then that ‘language’ becomes the ‘visible’ part of your existence, gaining all the importance it deserves, mostly mocking you for taking it for granted all these years, at times being kind throwing a few familiar words in your direction, maybe having the same origin in the languages you have been speaking. It makes you feel primitive because you go back to using gestures with people. It makes you feel alien reminding you that you still don’t belong there. It looks at you in the eye, challenging you in a duel and it knows that it is going to win. It commands you to surrender to it, to accept its superiority.  

It can be irritating initially when you are amidst people speaking a language that you can’t make any sense out of. It is nothing more than a sound to you. Like a constant buzzing around you. They would suddenly start laughing only to make you realize that somebody cracked a joke. You try to fathom what they are saying on the basis of their facial expressions. Oh, he is being shouted upon. Maybe he is trying to explain something difficult. Did he say something so foolish that the other person’s expressions changed so much? Are they commenting on you knowing very well that you don’t know a bit of what is being spoken? Questions. All sorts. With only wild guesses as answers.  

That’s when you start observing the language. Keenly. Minutely. It takes time. It takes effort. But it’s worth it. It throws surprises in front of you everyday. You can accept it, be frustrated by it, revel in its beauty or have fun handling it. Maybe, it’s like understanding a child. It can be like a stubborn one, not letting you know what it wants and yet crying incessantly around you. And sometimes, when in a good mood, it might let you peep into itself, it might let you feel familiar in its territory.   

Every language has uniqueness to it, a particular manner in which it is spoken, the way words are pressed or emphasized, the way the tongues are rolled, the way the tone is pitched. Language – if you know it well – is like something that could be lying around you like the non-existent but useful furniture item, its presence felt and unfelt at the same time. Or Language when you don’t know it – is like that one useful thing that you need miserably but can’t remember where you put it last time.

Kakinada.  A small town in coastal Andhra Pradesh. That is where I have been putting up since last one month. That is where I had my first stint with an alien language; with Telegu.

Friday, 7 July 2017

Muffled voices

The emptiness doesn’t haunt too much. The noise is not that loud. It’s muffled now. There are other voices that are louder than that noise. The voices that have my attention. Maybe I am deliberately not hearing the noise? Trying to push it below practical things. Work to be finished, lists to be made, payments to be scheduled, things to be purchased and packed.

The voices of all things mundane, of things that would occur at intervals and of things that will happen once in a lifetime – they seem to be helping me push the noise deeper so it’s more and more muffled.

But then, why does an image keep playing in front of my eyes. Image of myself as a child hiding the remains of an expensive crockery I broke under the carpet so that no one would notice them. Those pieces hurt later – to others and to me. What I forgot as a child was that hidden, broken pieces hurt the sole. Am I forgetting the same thing as an adult? Am I forgetting that hidden, broken pieces might hurt again? They might hurt the ‘soul’.

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