U wants me to blog about it.
He feels I’ll be more honest then.
You see I’m making a short film about my relationship with English. It’s like a tragi-comedy. This relationship that English and I share. English has flooded my brain. It’s the language I speak, think and dream in. It takes me time to construct complete thoughts and sentences in Hindi. I can do it. It’s not that I can’t. I’ve been ashamed about losing my conversance with Hindi for very long. So now, deliberately, I can.
But all it takes is a short circuit in the emotion department and Boom; I’m off blathering a completely nonsensical English-Kashmiri-Bengali-trying-to-be-Hindi mix of incoherent nonsense.
And yet somehow, I never seem to be able to speak it [English] quite as well and fluently as I’d like to. My sense of grammar and pronunciation are purely instinctual… and often completely off the mark. There are times when I go so horribly wrong that I feel close to tears over my ineptitude. Like right now… I wasn’t sure if it should be ‘about’ or ‘over’ or ‘at’ my ineptitude.
The thing is, I had set out to find evidence of how I learnt to speak English – the structured formalness of it that we inherited as part of our education, from the British; and juxtapose it what it’s evolved to today. I was hoping to find a certain sense of exuberance and vitality in the way that I use it today, that I hoped would be a departure from the fossilised package that I received it as.
However, I find that while things around me have changed… and the language ‘on the street’ is adapting very quickly to this fluid, non-structured, organic, grammatically irreverent, linguistically multi-tonal [and now often Americanised] expression, I too have somehow been marginalised in my quest to keep the sanctity of English as I received it. I am as much an oddity as the people I thought I’d hold up under the microscope.
So where does this take my film? What am I achieving through it?
Have I just signed a contract to create a charming little self-lampooning portrait of myself for an audience that really doesn’t figure in my life except perhaps for its intrepid ancestors who put me in this bloody spot to begin with?
Suddenly I feel like I’m back in nursery learning ‘London Bridge’, so I can sing it back in my flat Indian accent for amusement.