Much is made of my weakness of the national language by my friends circle. Indeed, (and excuse the attempted Wodehousean) the cry goes around the city, "Chuck cannot speak well the language of Bollywood" and "His otherwise spotless CV misses a vital language".
Alright, so my Hindi is bad. In the words of George Carlin - I don't give a shit.
(Now, my South Indian friends, is the point that we all rally together)
Remember that joke about how Karunanidhi reacted when someone said Hindi is the national language because it was spoken by maximum people in the country? He said that by that logic, the crow should be made the national bird.
(All South Indian friends, rapturous applause and pro-DMK slogans now)
Also, all my North Indian friends ask me "But yaaaaaar how can u b Indian and not hv seen Sholay yet yaaar!". I ask them back whether they have seen Kalyanaraman for a similar test of patriotism and they shrug with a facial expression reeking of the Carter Roadesque "What-everrrrrrrrr!". In the words of the wise Local Tea Party - why this discrimination, please? (That 'rrrrr' by the way, is the closest non-Southies will ever get to getting the 'zh' sound - you know, Kozhikode - right).
Ok, no more potential communal stuff (I don't want CoD to be the cause of a pogrom (I also wrote this line just so I could use the word 'pogrom' (You gotta admit, this multiple bracket shit is cool))).
Anyhow. I was a little boy, minding my own business, doing stuff that Mallu boys in the Gulf do like reading comics and topping classes, and suddenly, without warning, along came Hindi. CBSE Hindi.
(All South Indian friends, shudder and shiver at this point as if PC Thomas has decided to be your permanent roommate)
Oh, it was quite innocuous at first, the blighter. A mild annoyance in the otherwise uncomplicated world of addition and tenses. And before you knew it, just before you fully got to savour the joy of owning your first Hero fountain pen in 5th standard, you realise that the bloody subject is actually quite a headache.
(All riot-friendly friends - please note - Hindi the subject and not Hindi the language. Yeah, you still haven't seen Kalyanaraman, so pipe down)
As the years pass by and you realise that various parts of your body can do fun stuff, Hindi becomes a nightmare. A downright fucking nightmare.
Let me tell you my story.
When I was in 6th, 7th and 8th standards - I used to spend 4 hours a day studying Hindi. The use of the term 'study' here is an insult to what scientists and researchers the world over have been doing, though - I was mugging up the bloody thing. I spade up, by rote, chapters and chapters. Never was Hindi 'taught'. How to say stuff. How to have a conversation. How to fucking understand a movie. It was question-answer all through. When I look back, I think it a total miracle that I managed to survive those years of torture - by-hearting line after line without understanding a single fucking thing.
Everything about the stupid subject was bad. It had more periods than any other subject (yes, yes, I know you're begging to make that joke - say it to yourself). It had the most vicious of teachers. It had more textbooks than ANY other subject (pray, why couldn't we've had Michael Crichton as extra reading in English?). Spending 4 hours a day on it, but still the lowest marks. It brought down my entire average.
I was not a genocidal sort, but I do remember the frustration of a simple kid taken out in many ways.
For one - My Hindi books would always be put in my school bag in a polythene. It was untouchable. It was not allowed to sully the sacred Mathematics and Science books. On occasion where a polythene was not available, the Hindi book would form the 'base' of the bag and the rest of the books would 'stand' on top of it.
After each year, Mom used to give away my textbooks to someone. I never allowed her to give away the Hindi books, because I'd be tearing them up into little itty-bitty pieces. Once me and a few friends were even contemplating a mass-burning (of the books, not of selves).
I also remember seeing a public service ad on hand sanitation. So everytime I finished using my Hindi books, I used to wipe my hands. An inferior quality pen was even used to write on the notebooks, because high-quality Uniball and Pilots couldn't bothered to be wasted.
As you can imagine - I hated the goddamn subject from the bottom of my heart.
(Fellow South Indians - similar stories, please share in comments)
You know how after 25 years in prison, the sight of the open world comes as a whole new paradise to you? That was how I felt when I passed into the 9th standard, and dumped Hindi for good (I passed my last exam by the skin of my teeth).
Me and my friends celebrated the day of our last ever Hindi exam as 'Independence Day'. I am not making this up. We all had one extra packet of Corn Chips to treat ourselves.
I took French. My average shot up again, and I was in the top 5 in class again. It felt so very 5th standard. I wasn't exceptionally bright, but the lack of that fuck-all subject probably just spurred me on.
Boy, how I hated it.
Okay, there is no point to this post. No language-education-in-CBSE-should-be-reformed. No as-revenge-all-Punjabis-must-be-made-to-learn-Classical-Tamil. No but-now-I-have-changed-having-learnt-practical-Hindi-by-trying-to-talk-with-auto-drivers-and-food-delivery-places-in-Mumbai-and-see-the-shortsightedness-of-my-youth. Nah, none of that.
And to prove so, I will end this post with something totally random.