You didn’t understand the title right?
It’s in Punjabi.
Even if you are a Punjabi, and it is your mother tongue, there is a high chance are you were not able to read it.
Being a Punjabi myself, I feel ashamed that I still haven’t managed to learn the language.
Learning your native language is so essential – it helps build, maintain and carry forward a rich legacy of thoughts, expressions and ideas that come together in unique ways to define one’s culture. In a way, the colonial rule destroyed a large part of this fabric in our society.
What’s worse is that we began to prefer English, at the cost of regional language.
It was forbidden in school, to speak your native language. Studies were in English, and the second and third languages were seen as curriculum that had to be got over with. And so we went over the poems of Dinkar, Nirala and Pant with an aim to mug them up, and not appreciate the nuances of the rich weave of language.
At home, Punjabi was relegated to occasional visits to the grandparents, and then in Yash Chopra movies and Bollywood songs. Don’t get me started on the songs. Most non-Punjabi speakers may have an impression that Punjabi songs cannot be made without the mandatory “whiskey, botal, and peg”. Such a beautiful and sweet language, and all they got out of it was this?
But it is not just them to blame.
We have stereotyped everything based on what the movies from Mumbai show us – it wasn’t until too long ago when “apadiya” and “aiyyo” were the standard “South-Indian” or “Madrasi” expressions, notwithstanding that there are four states in the South, each with a unique (and beautiful) language.
And so Punjabis were the boisterous party-hopping, chicken tangdi and patiala-peg loving loudmouths who said “balle balle” at every given opportunity.
The little chances that people had at appreciating the language were also skittered away by Honey (that’s a name??) Singh and now Baadshah. And the generation who was to carry it forward fell to the charms of English and suits, so much so that every Punjabi wedding (save a few exceptions such as mine) have the guys wearing three-piece suits instead of traditional Punjabi attire.
And so today, there are articles being written on how to save the language, which is currently the ninth-largest spoken worldwide. What a comedown.
And I am also to blame. I haven’t learnt it yet, although I managed to pick up a host of other languages on the way. I do understand quite a bit, but that is not enough. One has to teach the next generation, and to teach, one has to devote time to learning.
And so one of my targets in the next 6 months is to learn Punjabi. I don’t know where I would find the time, and how I would learn, but I guess I just have to get down to it. So wish me luck, and hopefully the next time I write on this subject, it will be in Gurmukhi.
So what did that title mean?
ਮੈਂ ਤੁਹਾਡੇ ਨਾਲ ਵਾਅਦਾ ਕਰਦਾ ਹਾਂ ਕਿ ਮੈਂ ਪੰਜਾਬੀ ਸਿੱਖਾਂਗਾ
Maiṁ tuhāḍē nāla vā’adā karadā hāṁ ki maiṁ pajābī sikhāṅgā
I promise you that I will learn Punjabi:)
See you tomorrow!