Wearing the Language on your sleeve literally!
A year ago I was in Rome, visiting the most historical places and listening to the stories and folklores. I was a tourist there and suddenly someone did come and ask me ‘what is this weird looking T Shirt you are wearing, are these alphabets?’ I sat down to him and explained that It is a language spoken in Southern part of India called Kannada and it is a dialogue from a movie in the same language meaning ‘you said it well/right’. The T shirt I was wearing had ‘Chennagi helidri’ in text and a lady saying that.
It was the coolest attire I ever have in my wardrobe. I remember buying few more T shirts from Iruve after this. I wear it proudly in Barcelona now and all my classmates know of kannada because of this. This is the magic an innovative idea does to the language sometimes even when you don’t have to say it loud. Also this brings down an argument as to why do you have to propagate your language wherever you go. Well this for me is as important as my name, profession and food I eat. It is not a forcible act to be performed but it’s good to know such a language exists in certain part of the world.
I came to Barcelona 6 months ago to study, as ignorant I was I thought whole of the country spoke Spanish. Only when I met a friend of mine, she said she speaks Catalan and this whole region is Catalunya. A family friend, a Kannadiga is married to a girl from Basque and that’s not even close to Spanish. I was taken aback by this diversity and how these regions are fighting for their autonomy and keeping the culture and language alive. This is a major problem in India though our motto is ‘Unity in Diversity’.
Our generation grew up with a wrong notion of having a single national language. Infact only after I passed out from School, I realized this. Though there is ‘Souhardha’ in our language as a word but we always fail to follow it. We want one language on top of another simply fail to understand that common sense to learn the language of the land we stay in.
The happiness you get in wearing your language on our clothes doesn’t make you anarchist but makes you a medium of propagation of the language. Also, our generation mostly didn’t go to Kannada medium schools and our education was in English. The IT gen which my father calls was mostly focused on our career becoming an engineer or a doctor or a CA or some well-paid professions which required only Math or Science or Computation skills to go ahead. Language was unnecessary and never tried to learn it seriously by a lot of that 80’s and 90’s generation. The highly popular kannada writer sometimes puts up a status on his Facebook Timeline to check on the readability of our generation. He gives a verdict later saying what was the age of most of the readers in kannada, if so what did they actually read. Yes, we are far behind from what was supposed to happen. When I recently wrote a column in an online portal explaining the same, a reader commented that nothing has and nothing will happen to kannada. Your city bred people simply hype it. We have or we may not have a problem but wearing your language on your sleeve gives you immense happiness and pride. This promotes you to learn to read and write in the language. When I teach kannada on WhatsApp group, there are innumerable queries on how do I learn to write them. I have seen 50 year olds who have taken a copywriting book, practiced the language. This is how a language grows. We have definitely outgrown the classrooms or schools which was the only source of information and learning. The new way to make a language cool is through this amazing activities.
It’s been 6 months for me in Barcelona and totally impossible to not learn the language. Most of the official mails are in Catalan, the shopkeepers speak Spanish/Catalan and since I am vegetarian asking for food I had to go take an extra mile to learn the language. I am not saying that’s wrong because we have gone to their place. We should be like them, it’s a simple quote from DVG which is ‘Be one among everybody’. Every time a student of mine learning kannada tries to construct a sentence in the language I feel proud and happy to see my language in their life. It’s the same feeling for my friends here who taught me the language. I am not an outsider anymore because I can understand.
Our literature should not stagnate with our age-old writers only. Newbies and new content should always flow in. How much ever we are really happy on what our forefathers did, we should have our contributions in an innovative way. If it is cool to wear Che Guevara on our sleeves its cooler to know what DVG, Bendre wrote in their lifetimes and how well could we probably lead life. Hence such amazing ideas are necessary. Wear the language on your sleeve, pass it on to different people, learn their language teach them yours. This is a way a language prospers. Our own Basavanna himself said ‘sthavarakalivuntu jangamakkalivilla’ which roughly translates as one which stays at a same place and dies and one which moves will always live.