Selectively Linguistic

My native language is Bangla. Am not entirely proficient in it. I can speak it but the “purists” can usually gauge that I’m not one of them. Apparently it reeks of being an “outsider” aka from outside the hallowed boundaries of West Bengal.

I can manage to read and write it but it’d be better if I didn’t. I can manage better with Gujarati and can more than scrape by in Hindi. Not counting English here since it’s the global ‘must-have’ language we were brought up to regard and revere.

Red’s native tongue is Telugu. He’s proficient in speaking, reading and writing. The less said about his spoken Hindi the better. I’ve written a few blog posts trolling it and he hasn’t been a happy camper.

The Offspring (TO) has chosen English as the language he’s most comfortable with and is sticking to it with the tenacity of barnacles on a sunken ship. See…all those years of cramming figures of speech in my head finally did some good.

Anyhoo, back to TO. He has been spoken to, yelled at, cajoled at, cooed at in both the languages Red and I speak in but somehow it was the whole water&duck’s back scenario.

But every now and then, he slips up and answers, verbally or non-verbally, in response to a question asked in Bangla. And it makes me annoyed and smug at the same time. Would it hurt his otherwise perpetually busy mouth to speak a few words in other languages? Especially if they’re a part of his cultural make-up? But noooo…one cannot hope to prevail upon children of today over these sentimental issues. They (the kids) are pretty pragmatic and don’t see much value to doing the ‘little things’ which make their folks giddy with happiness.

This morning over breakfast at a resort we’re staying in, I asked him if he wanted a repeat of his soupy noodles. I asked him in Bangla and he shook his head no. I asked him again just to be sure and he said “No”. When Red asked him a bit later, he still said no. So no was the way to go.

But am onto his little tricks. He pretends he doesn’t get what I’m saying when I speak in a different language but I know better. No kid can spend 7 years being scolded in a language and not pick up bits and pieces. No sirree!

Although, and am just playing devil’s advocate here, given his Bong genes that are predispositioned towards food and gluttony, he could just have memorized every tense of the phrase containing the words ‘eat’ and ‘more’. Going by my luck with this boy, it’s far more likely that’s what he did.

There go dreams of my conversing with him and teaching him the mix of Banglish (Bangla+English)+Hinglish (Hindi+English) I usually speak.

I is sad. I is annoyed. These kids! #smh but since every parent’s goal is to get their kids to do things without telling them 20,000xs or throwing stuff at them; as long as he answers back in ONE language I guess that’ll have to be enough.

Siiiiigh.

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