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Where do I belong?

Discussion in 'Snippets of Life (Non-Fiction)' started by LightOfVictory, Sep 17, 2010.

  1. LightOfVictory

    LightOfVictory Junior IL'ite

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    Date: 11th July, after the Soccer World cup! but nothing to do with soccer!

    Posting a little old one here. Non-tamil readers, please don't be repelled by the usage of Tamil in between. Believe me, I had to use it to say what I wanted to say. I have provided the translation as much as I can and assure you that you'll definitely get the gist of it. Pardon its length, though.

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    Psychic Paul had finally been given some rest after Madrid celebrated Spain's rightful glory at their first world cup win. While winding up one of the most viewed Men's soccer games televised on Disney's ABC network, the host urged the viewers to visit South Africa at least once and said, 'after all, we are all from Africa!' Oh, no. I am not here to support or dispute 'Out of Africa' theory. If there is a theory, then there has to be another one to refute it. So, it's always been a reader's choice to accept or not. Not pondering much about paleoanthropology (human origins), the (good old) million-dollar-question resurfaced again on my 'small' buffer memory. Sometimes it receded in the background, but it was always there in my mind as I long as I remember. What about me? Where do I belong?

    Long long ago, so long ago, nobody knows how long ago, how many generations ago....... some had migrated from Andhra to settle in nearby Tamil Nadu. Wait a minute, did they migrate from thither to hither or hither to thither and some was left hither or were not both under the same kingdom? Oops..No History class, please. With some strong love, they had continued to speak Telugu, for centuries, even though they were in 'Tamil' Nadu.

    My first language, taught as a 'toddler', was Telugu. I am really fond of it. Is 'fondness' the right word?!!!! Ah, how much I love it! At my paternal grandparents' and uncles' places, till date, they don't utter a word in Tamil and all they speak is Telugu, at home. They speak Tamil/English in the outside world, but unfortunately a part of their outside world also consists of proudly-Telugu-speaking-yet-living-in-TN people. When I say Telugu, please be assured that it is not the Telugu that is spoken in Hyderabad, Godavari, Krishna basins, Telegana or even Nellore districts of AP. It is purely a Telugu spoken at my hometown and its surrounding areas, completely outside of AP. What is a language if it cannot adapt itself to the needs of its speakers. Hence, 'OUR Telugu', really known in our region only, had largely accommodated Tamil, Tamil influenced and Tamil inspired words. It is 'so called OUR Telugu'. Many of my folks had never set foot in AP even in their dreams, except Thirupathi in few cases. Absolutely no relatives in AP in any side.

    Just step out of these houses, and the whole world(Tamil Nadu) speaks Tamil. So I had picked it up at my kindergarten classes.

    'Tamizhukkum amudhuendru paer,
    Andha Tamizh inba Tamizh engal uyirukku naer, uyirukku naer!!!"
    (Loose translation: Tamil is as sweet as honey, it is equivalent to our life and soul)

    Studied "Kal thondri mann thondraa kalathe mun thondriya" (ancient) Tamizh(Tamil) until my 12th grade. I was deeply, madly in love with it while growing up. Sometimes, I wonder if I really love just Tamil or its poets and their excellent works or richness of their minds. Had I not fell in love with computes at 12, I would have read only 'Tamil' in college. I swear! My first fantasy as a teenager was to become Bharathi's(Mahakavi Subbramaniya Bharthi, a Tamil poet and freedom fighter) Kannama(his imaginary lover). After seeing me spending hours and hours together with a little red book "Bharathiar kavithaigal", what else could have my mom wished for while gifting it to me? :hide: Bharathi was really influential in my life (This warrants a separate post). Who else can teach a teenage girl "Nimirndha nannadaiyum naer konda paarvaiyum", "manadhil urudhi vendum" and "aanukku inge penn ilaipillai kaan" and "uchi meedhu vaan idindhu veezhugura pothilum, acham enbadhu illaiyae" (confidence boosting verses). Who else can teach her patriotism?
    Next one, believe me, was to day dream that I was the Legendary Valluvar (Thiruvalluvar) in my previous incarnation :bonk. Such was my admiration for him. I had sat with Bharthi for hours, read 100s of verses of Kambar or Avvaiyar or Thiru Valluvar or Thiruvasagar or Kannadasan or Vairamuthu and appreciated them. But there is this poet of whom I have read only one, a long poem - Kaniyan Poongundranaar. Hats off to him!

    "Yaadhum oorae! Yaavarum Kaelir!; dheedhum nandrum pirar thara vaara..................."
    Paer-yaatru neer vazhi padu-um punai pola, aaruyir murai vazhi padu-um......."
    "maatchyin periyorai viyathalum ilamae; siriyorai igazhdhal adhaninum ilamae!"

    Anything else should be said?!!! What an insight!!! (With due respect to the poet, I don't want to loosely translate these lines, as these lines are interpreted differently in different schools of thought. The poem can mean to some people as 'universal brotherhood, fatalism of life, etc.' and to others it could mean 'indifference to places, people and their greatness'. Few say, it is all about 'tolerance to all the differences that humanity managed to create for itself'. I can provide external links for different translation, if anyone is really interested. I even read somewhere that this poem will be inscribed in UN headquarters, need to check its veracity though.) My love for Tamil's grammar made me win some prize in state level 'Tamil Grammar competetion' in 12th standard, but someone said "it's really great that you won, even if your mother tongue is not Tamil..." Here it comes again... Please... I have learnt this language for 14 years and lived here throughout my life. Seldom, I feel odd one out. Some of our food, culture and rituals do not conform to Tamil world. (Even within Tamils, these vary among different groups) OMG, I don't belong here?


    Oh..my Bharathi (a Tamil poet) himself had said "sundara Telugunil paatu isaithu...(singing in beautiful Telugu)". For heaven's sake, please don't remind me that he didn't call 'OUR Telugu (version)' as 'sundaram (beautiful)'.:crazy All my application forms and certificates say that 'my mother tongue' is Telugu. Whenever I hear a good Telugu song or watch a Telugu movie, my joy know no bounds. My mom's tongue converse in two languages. Is that the definition of mother tongue, by any chance? I wonder. Which is mine? Most of my maternal cousins cannot speak in Telugu, though a few understand it. They speak only Tamil. If you ask them theirs, they don't confuse themselves like me :spin In 6th grade, there was a lesson about the importance of one's mother tongue and it went on to explain that "you always dream in your mother tongue". Hurray, I found a test! Dreams....I have a 'amudha-surabhi (plentiful)' of dreams. Day in, day out - I get dreams. At last, a way out to find my mother tongue. If I spend more time with school friends and neighbors, I used to dream in 'Tamizh'. When I stay more at paternal uncles' places during vacation, all I hear is 'Telugu' - 24x7. No prizes for guessing it right. I used to dream in 'Telugu'. Yep, the test in the text failed me. Given the popularity of 'OUR' Telugu amongst my college friends, I dare not to talk with them in Telugu. I remember all their mockings, "Please don't call what you speak as Telugu", "your Telugu has Tamil accent"...oh really?!! :rantI have no issues in comprehending their Telugu and when I try to talk their way, I really feel that it is unnatural. So I stick with English mostly. I cannot talk in 'our Telugu', it could be a nerve-wrecking experience to an uninitiated Telugu speaker. When I toured few places in Andhra, I always managed talking in 'mono-syllables'. In US, Telugu friends from AP consider me as a 'Tamil'. Unfortunately I haven't learnt to read or write Telugu, yet. All my literary knowledge in Telugu is limited to "mari-mari ninnē moraliḍa nī manasuna daya rādu" song from Sindhu Bhairavi film and few others sung by my favorites MS amma, Sudha Raghunathan and other carnatic singers. So, I don't belong here too?


    My mom followed her parents' and in-laws' and created her own unique set of vocabulary, culture, rituals and life-style. Now, I know my grandparents', my mom's, dad's and my husband's and try to create my own. Like our DNA that carries some characteristics genealogically for generations together, can't I carry forward my forefathers' love for Telugu and my love for Tamil together, Insha'Allah[if God willing - May I also add "Yaavum en madham!(every religion is mine or I am indifferent to religion!")? to Kaniyan Poongundran's poem. Digression was intentional! ] Can I petition Aadhaar/UIDAI to include two or more blanks for 'mother-tongue' in the census application form for UID project? Will Nandan Nilekani heed to Wiki's definition of mother tongue/language - "children in bilingual homes can have more than one mother tongue" (native bilingual or indeed native multilingual)?

    Sometimes I may favor one over the other but definitely not love one more than the other, like a mother who cannot afford to choose one kid over the other.

    Ain't I in love with both simultaneously? Yes I am.... Ethically? How cannot it be!!!!!

    I know I can neither identify completely with 'Tamil' nor 'Telugu' people, but I can identify with hundreds of thousands of people who have migrated to a different world and speak at least two languages. Especially few generations after initial migrants. I belong neither here nor there. I am not disheartened. After all, languages are just a medium of communication and most of the languages have their own heritage and enriching literature. Why to differentiate people by it? I don't belong to Tamil or Telugu, but to both, I feel the warmth when I speak in both Tamil and Telugu. Learning as many languages as possible, will definitely make us appreciate the richness of each language.


    "Yaadhum oorae! Yaavarum Kaelir! (every city is mine, everyone is my relative or I am indifferent to city, people!) ".

    May I add "Yaavum en mozhiyae! (every language is mine or I am indifferent to languages)", if the poet does not object?

    I went to a dollar-store with a 'Tamil' friend. When our turn came for billing, the cashier at the counter started speaking to us in Hindi. Though my understanding skills in Hindi is pretty decent (thanks to all those Doordarshan programmes/movies of 80s and early 90s), I cannot utter a single sentence with grammatical soundness. I cannot speak the 'rashtriya' bhaasha (Hindi). We told her that we can't speak the language. She said, "Oh I thought you were Indians!". What? Am I not? What will happen to all my 'blood-boiling' patriotism? What will happen to all my intense love for my country? I narrated this incident to another (non-TN) friend, he ridiculed at me, "the lady in the shop was right. You are from Tamil 'Nadu'. what does 'Nadu' mean? Country. so, you are from a different (Tamil) country. So she was right and You're not Indian". Oh, what a logic? I know he was just kidding. But....., Fine. Why to bind myself with the boundaries that man had created to easily govern a region. Come to think of where I am, US, what is it made of - immigrants. Do I belong here at least? No. I like the supportive people here very much, but I cannot belong here. After I leave this place, I will still feel a warmth about US. But don't belong here.
    How much I liked 'Internationalism' in Nehru's 'Discovery of India' or in Article 51 of Indian constitution and how much I wanted to embrace 'Universal brotherhood'! as a school student. Those likings came to my rescue. Now, I can break my another boundary.

    Universal brotherhood - will I stop here? Oh, no. My Bharathi will be angry with me if I do so.

    "kakkai kuruvi engal jaathi, (crows, sparrows belong to our community)
    neel kadal malaiyum engal kootam (the long beach, and mountains belong to our group)"

    Besides the languages, religions, regions, and races created to distance mankind within, man had managed to distance himself from nature too!

    I wonder!!!

    Don't we belong to this nature? This earth (Planet - A man-made difference)? This galaxy (another man-made difference)? This universe?
    Yes I am part of this (all living and non-living things of this universe) and belong very much here. :thumbsup

    "Nirpadhuve Nadappadhuve Parappadhuve, Neengal Ellam Soppanam Thaano, Pala Thotra Mayakkangalo!
    Karpadhuve Ketpadhuve Karudhuvadhe, Neengal Ellam Ardhamaiyaigalo, Ummul Aazhndha Porulillaiyo
    Vaanagamae.. Ilaveyilae.. Maracharivae..,Neengal Ellam Kaanalin Neero .............Naanum Or Kanavo
    Indha Gnalamum Poithaano"

    (Bharathi is wondering if the diffrence in various living beings are just in dreams or many manifestations! Whatever is learnt, heard,etc are just maya! Don't these have deeper meaning? heaven(sky), sunshine,etc. are just a mirage! Am I also just a dream! Isn't this earth a lie?! --- Again loosely translated. )
     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2010
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  2. umarao02

    umarao02 Senior IL'ite

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    super....i u/stand your feeling...born in chennai but mother tongue kannada..
    cheers,
    Uma
     
  3. joshila

    joshila Bronze IL'ite

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    [​IMG] I don't know what else to say ...This is what even I keep thinking or experiencing but never took the efforts to put in words. I think you did a wonderful job. I loved your way of writing. Atleast you were Telugu, and took the efforts to learn tamil. I was the other way, born tamil but learnt Hindi but more at home with English. So,I always used to think which place did I really belong to??....:hide: You are right , we belong to the Earth. I loved the way you had phrased the essay ... :clap
     
  4. LightOfVictory

    LightOfVictory Junior IL'ite

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    Thanks Uma for your first fb, as I mentioned in my post I can identify myself with 1000s of people who speak two (mother-tongues) languages!

    But my emphasis is to break through all these barriers!
     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2010
  5. LightOfVictory

    LightOfVictory Junior IL'ite

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    Thanks Joshila for liking it. I thought it was really a lengthy one. But thanks for reading it completely.
     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2010
  6. mstrue

    mstrue New IL'ite

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    LOV,
    EXCELLENT Post, EXCELLENT Flow, EXCELLENT MESSAGE!!!

    I was quite naive about the procedure to nominate for finest posts etc, and just Today came to know of it.. I would be very pleased to nominate this post of yours for its superb message.. We are all part of the nature.. one and all.. beautiful thought pa.

    :thumbsup:thumbsup
     
  7. LightOfVictory

    LightOfVictory Junior IL'ite

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    Thanks Ms. T for your lovely feedback and lovely gesture for nominating it to FP. I had these thoughts always but didn't know how to pen it. I am glad that it turned out well, for you to like it :)
     
  8. mstrue

    mstrue New IL'ite

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    :welcome, LOV! My pleasure.


    Hey, Nice avatar to match the post!! :thumbsup
     
  9. Spiderman1

    Spiderman1 Gold IL'ite

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    Lov,
    Super write up this :thumbsup
    பாரதி கண்ணம்மா நீங்க தான்!:)

    I get those questions myself!

    Fantastic narration.
     
  10. knot2share

    knot2share Gold IL'ite

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    Dear LOV

    A fascinating post and a beautiful message. It is sad that I am unable to enjoy the lines of Barathiar or the others that you have mentioned here, to the fullest. But surely get the gist of it. It just reminds me of the days as a youngster when I used to sit infront of the TV to watch a debate in Tamizh, mostly the ones organised during festival days like Pongal, Deepavali etc. Here again, I could never grasp the full essence of it but surely got the gist of the arguments. But what I used to admire most was the powerful words and how it flowed from their mouths and how they sounded. I was totally floored! :). As I grew up, I found myself mixed up in many bhashas. I identify myself also as part of the generation who is neither here nor there. And that possibly is the beauty about us by being able to identify with a wider range and ability of being flexible. It maybe a long post but enjoyed reading through the way you have expressed your thoughts.
     

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