Among the many things in my life that i have failed at, one is learning Hindi. I am sorry for that, Mr Amit Shah. In Class 7, we were faced with the first academic choice of our lives – Hindi or Sanskrit for third language. All the good boys and girls, the ones who defined failure as getting 95 on 100 in Maths and ate yoghurt-rice on exam days to cool themselves down, took Sanskrit because there it was very easy to get 50 on 50. So obviously i chose Hindi.
My father figured this would help me live in other states in India. But for me, the driver was more immediate. I needed to understand the lyrics of Bollywood songs, because otherwise my style was being cramped. Once during the last day of school, the only day you were allowed to sing Hindi songs in class, i had sung “Akele hai to kya gom hai” till someone told me, in public, “It is gum, not gom” to which my response was “gom is how you pronounce wheat” (in Bengali) to which she giggled and said “It is gum, sadness”. Needless to say, being called out in public while i was living my Aamir Khan fantasy was traumatic. I did not want to live under the impression that the best song of Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak meant “We are alone but why does it matter when we have wheat?”
So Hindi it would be. It was a terrible decision. My marks were pathetic, even by Hindi-average standards. This was to be expected. I could not understand why people don’t eat cigarettes in Hindi like they do in Bengali, but somehow drink it. I mean in Bengali, we even eat water. And i definitely could not wrap my “mashtishk” around the Hindi notion of gender, and how mooch or moustache could be feminine.
There was no help at home save my grandmother, who had, years ago, taken a course in Hindi to get an increment in her government job as part of “Hindi imposition” during Indira Gandhi days. And just when things could not go more wrong, our Hindi sir in school asked me the “viparit” of Rogi, and i said “Nirog” and started laughing uncontrollably, because of course it sounded like Nirodh. Hindi sir failed to see the humour, and gave me a resounding slap in front of the class. At the end of Class 8, learning Hindi went out of my life. For good. It’s one thing i do not look fondly back at.
DISCLAIMER : This article is intended to bring a smile to your face. Any connection to events and characters in real life is coincidental.