What happens when one feels isolated, out of place and confused about where one belongs-all because of something as natural as one’s language? An Indian student introspects and finds solace in his diary.
October 23, 2016
Nobody I met before a couple of years ago would ever have been able to recognise my present self-why, even I often fail to. For here I am- alone, desolate, bored, attempting to make friends with the dullest of lifeless objects- a dusty, decade-old diary. The extrovert in me, the life-of-the-gathering, the clown-of-the-class, has taken some beating in my endeavour for an ‘elite’ education.
I remember my excitement having known no bounds when I received news about having been selected for admission in one of the country’s top schools. With stars in my eyes, I stepped into the class of the first day of grade 11; nobody seemed to notice, so I walked up to a group of boys and introduced myself- to the sound of giggles.
I do have to confess, here, that I’m a primarily Hindi speaker. I have never had qualms conversing in English, but I’ve always found English a cold, mechanical language- perhaps like the people who made it. When I converse in Hindi, I speak from the heart. Back home, I never had such issues with my peers- they spoke the same way I do.
Not here, though. A major part of my class found pleasure conversing in English (I could often make out the grammatical errors through the very anglicised accent). After the first incident, teasing grew to bullying and bullying to discrimination. I often attempted to approach my classmates in their own language, but my accent seemed to get in the way. I tried talking to them about their interests, but the sight of me discussing GoT in my local accent would freak the daylights out of them.
So I gave up. I would only get some solace in the hostel; one of my mates was from my city and suffered similarly. We would discuss everything my classmates did, and more- football, world politics, Narcos, you name it. And I discovered a way to let my thoughts free- writing.
So here I am in my (thankfully welcoming) college, with students from across the map, still attempting to make friends, but secure in the knowledge that even in dreary times, I have my thoughts, and my pen to pour them out through.
Also published on DTU Times as ‘The Qualms of Being a Hindi-Speaker’