Languages

So its been quite some time that I’ve shifted to India from U.A.E. and I’m still having trouble settling in. Its not as easy as we thought it was and time by time my mom will say, “Let’s just go back to U.A.E. now. This place is getting out of my hands.” If my mom is saying that, then you can understand I guess how much difficulty we are having staying here!

There are the obvious things we are having trouble adapting to like the changed environment, lifestyle, mosquitoes etc. But one of my personal difficulty is language. So I thought that today might be a good day to elaborate on that. Let’s get to it now shall we?

When I was 8 months old my parents took me to this wonderful country called U.A.E. and well, I’ve spent my entire childhood there and also most of my teenage years. So I’m brought up in an environment with diverse cultures and different languages speaking people. So the language that was given most importance to me was English because it helps me to converse with any type of people. And then at home I was taught the language that comes from the place I belong. But in school I was taught India’s national language – Hindi. Somehow that last part is what people here forget.

Over there when I was to converse with anyone, it’d be English, with elderly people its Hindi and then sometimes at home the language of my state. So I know all the languages. But most of the people here think I don’t know Hindi. They think I can’t even understand it! I know I talk a lot in English, but that doesn’t mean I don’t know Hindi. I can very well talk so. And also understand.

Quite a while back one person cracked a joke in Hindi. It was funny and since everyone was laughing, they din’t hear me laughing. And then one person asked me, “You understood right? Want me to explain what was being said right now?” I got really furious because this happening way too much with me. I said, “You know what? I’ve learnt Hindi for 10 years. I’ve aced my Hindi exams and was the one who represented my class for Hindi speeches and reading competitions. Do you really think I don’t understand Hindi?” And she replied, “I thought you don’t know because you’re from Dubai!”

One of my neighbors likes to show off a lot. So whenever she speaks to me she speaks in English and her English isn’t very good. One day by mistake she spoke to me in Hindi and I replied in Hindi and she says to me, ” You know Hindi? Wow. I din’t know! Did you learn it now when you are here?” I replied, “No aunty. I know Hindi quite well. So can speak from a very long time.” She then said, “Oh my! You’re from Dubai right? So how can you know Hindi?”

This is exactly how I react to everyone with all these assumptions that I don’t know Hindi. Reaction in my mind at least….

Just because I don’t speak in Hindi more often, doesn’t mean I don’t KNOW Hindi. Just because I spent my growing years in a foreign country, doesn’t mean I don’t know my national language. Do you all really think that because my parents brought me up in a country other than my native one, I don’t know the language of my country and don’t know my traditions? (Yes, they think that too. They think I celebrate American traditions. How is America and U.A.E. related? They’re not even in the same continent!!) Its getting kind of offensive towards me, and I can’t tolerate that.

I wonder why these people don’t assume the same thing about my mom though….

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The Bully-vard Of Broken Bones

If you are a regular reader of my posts then by now you will know that I have a 9 – year old brother. And this post is inspired by his struggles in my native country.

Yesterday evening when my mom and him came back from the playground situated right below my building, my brother looked upset and my mom was in an angry mood. When I inquired, she said that the children with whom he ‘plays’ told her that my brother swears a lot in my country’s national language – Hindi. They also told her that he curses and teases the children. I was shocked because I know he doesn’t even know one bad word, and now we have complaints that he abuses? Then went a long conversation between my mom, me and my brother. We needed to know if this was true.

My brother admitted to telling some words, but he never knew that they were bad. He heard the other children using them, and picked it up. He told it to them because he wanted to be accepted by them. He wanted to play with them.

These kids dominate the entire building. They are from the ages 9 – 12. You’d expect them to play with someone who obviously is the same age. But things don’t always turn out to be the way you expect them to be right?

My brother isn’t physically strong. He can’t run fast without tripping down and he still can’t jump. In short you can say he is weak. So the kids in the country where we both grew up took care of him in school. He had amazing friends who would guide him anywhere in school. His best friend was always regarded as his body-guard. They cared about him that much!

But the kids here have a totally different definition of care.

When we just came to the building they treated him well and played a lot with him. They loved him and cared a lot. We were really happy that he found good friends here too. But we jumped to conclusions too soon.
After 2 months of everyday play, one boy decided to turn the tables. I don’t know what was his problem.  Let’s name the boy XYZ here.
Whenever my brother would go to play they’d just ignore him. My brother would run behind them, and they can’t turn around and tell him to stop! Then one day we found out that XYZ and his partner beat my brother with a dirty broom that was just lying around. They told my brother not to tell my mom or else they’ll stop playing with him. Living in that fear, my  brother never opened up to my mom, dad or me! That broom caused him allergies. His entire body was red, and for two days he couldn’t go out.
Next day my mom and I shouted at those kids and especially XYZ. We gave him a final warning. The next day they played extremely well with him. We thought they learnt their lesson.

A month passed by, and everyone was happy. Until one day my brother started crying at home all of a sudden.

After a very rigorous interrogation and numerous attempts to break his loyalty towards his ‘friends’, my brother decided to open up. And what he said, left my mom and I in tears.

He said that XYZ would tell him to hide in a room. When my brother tried to get out, he and his friends would be pulling the doors so that he’d be trapped inside. Sometimes they pulled his pants, slapped him or made him trip down by putting their leg in the way while he was walking. And when he fell down, they wouldn’t let him up. Instead they’d stand on his pants so that standing isn’t easy for him. And after all these disastrous events, they’d tell him to shut his mouth about all this and never utter a word to my mom and I.
He was being bullied everyday and he kept quiet about it because he was scared.

My brother was weak infront of them. Their continuous fighting among themselves followed by a series of curse words to their own siblings, it was too much for anyone to control.

We told them to stop playing with my brother anymore, and told my brother the same. But my brother was so lonely here that in the end he ran behind them again.
Those kids gained a bit of sense and started playing with him properly. And they were always under my mom’s guidance. So my mom always monitors  every move of theirs.

Then came yesterday. My brother is also at fault here because he din’t need to repeat the words that they use. He’s extremely short – tempered and whenever he’s angry, he’ll start saying each and every word that comes to his mind and gets really hyper. But those kids are obviously at a greater fault here.

Now my brother swears he will never play with them and those kids also say that they never ever will play with him. I don’t want to hear anymore of these cases regarding bullying. I just hope that everything is back to normal till we shift from here. Then none of us have to face these kids ever again.

One thing is still confusing. If they never wanted to play with my brother, then why din’t they tell that directly to us? Why all this torture and made up stories?

These kids were at such an extent because their parents never took their actions seriously. They always say, ‘They are kids. They’re just having fun!’ Everyone in the building knows how bad they are, yet no one stands up to them. That’s why my brother is their first victim. After all this those kids have got severe shoutings by their parents and everyone else in the building. Hopefully they learnt their lesson now and no other kid will be a victim of bullying in this building.
If you yourself are either a victim of bullying or you know someone who is being bullied, stand up to it and defend them. You are not going to lose anything but you will gain respect from others. This needs to stop, and we all can do that. No one should feel the way my brother does. No one deserves that.