[This is the original article I wrote. Another version which is edited but not by me can be read on The Quint.]
A few weeks ago I came across an article on the internet stating an immediate need for Hindi to upgrade from just being one of the official languages to become the national language. As a step forward towards, what was a long term plan for my India, a Hindu Rashtra?
I wouldn’t lie, it got me worried not only because the secular fabric of my nation was being attacked but because if this was ever to be the case, my words would never find a place. Literally and metaphorically.
My first language is Punjabi which I inherited from my mother and nurtured with a consistent diet of Amrita Pritam’s original works. Hindi is the language I use to communicate, to buy samosa’s at the canteen, to direct the ricksha walla bhaiya, to crack jokes and sometimes just to have a simple conversation. English, the language which I use the most, only because this gift from my colonisers led a 10-year-old me to believe that the speed at which I speak this language will determine my worth when I’m older. Somewhere between chasing an Englishman’s style English and listening to my family chatter away in Punjabi, I lost Hindi. I wonder if what comes out of my mouth is even Hindi?
My Hindi is heavily accented, the remains of my Punjabi oozing out with every word uttered. Most of the times it sounds like a Honey Singh rap and of this, I’m proud. The word “gehri” is a term used often even around my posh English honours friends.
My Hindi, when I’m frustrated ends all its sentences with a “re”. Something I borrowed from my Telugu roommate, with whom I shared a room for 4 years. Her Hindi, though, was non-existent. Her Telugu as fast as that Englishman’s English I was conditioned to chase.
My Hindi is sometimes Marathi because of all the summers I spent at my massi’s house in Bombay asking her not to put any kāndā in my aloo parantha.
My Hindi is a fusion of Urdu for all the times I recited the works of my favourite shayars to impress and fill the empty void which was once my young smitten heart. Cracked yet khoobsurat.
My Hindi is fluent in names of every Bhojpuri movie and its ludicrous dialogues. A directory to be used during a competitive game of dumb charades.
I would like to add, the team which I was in always won.
My Hindi will always, by default introduce me by my nick name, Gul. A name with origins in Persian, Turkish, Arabic, Urdu and koshur. Picked somewhere along a tenure in Kashmir. A name they found perfect to go with my chubby rosy cheeks.
Somewhere along writing these thoughts down my worry disappeared because even the Hindi that drips from my tongue is secular. My Hindi is inclusive. My Hindi is Indian. My Hindi is patches of cultures put together, just like my nation. My Hindi a “situational Irony” of your Hindu Rashtra- a rebellion.