Learning a language can be difficult- and one like Hindi can be a nightmare- as has been for me for quite some time now! As far as I can remember, I wasn’t that bad in Hindi a year back- I can produce mark-sheets that bear testimony to this fact. But I know, report cards can be deceiving (I have repeatedly proved that by consistently getting high grades in subjects I feared and faring terribly in the ones I was passionate about). Today I let the secret of the trade out: I avoided, by all possible means, gender (dis)agreement while framing sentences in Hindi.
I wasn’t doing really badly until I was posted in a Hindi-speaking state. Only then did I realize that what I could avoid while writing, I could not- while conversing. The gender disagreement started getting more and more obvious in each of my conversation. To make matters worse, people around me started pointing out how miserable my Hindi was! So every time I spoke, I got more conscious; I didn’t want to make mistakes- and that only made me make more mistakes- stupider than ever!
I am grateful, though, that most people patiently corrected me; also ungrateful as none of them could successfully teach me as to what determined the gender of a non-living entity. Most people retort, “It comes naturally” and I give a confused smile- pitying the state of Hindi grammar, thinking- “Oh, you knew it the moment you were born- there are no grammar, no rules, huh?!” (I can see, all my Hindi-speaking readers are frowning- but I really can’t help unless you come up with a logical explanation). My latest achievement has been- I could incite a group of Hindi-speaking people to debate over the use of correct gender with something as simple as Dahi; they couldn’t reach a conclusion and resolutely stuck to their respective point without any logic whatsoever- let alone convincing ones!
After this episode, all I can say is-“Dimag ka Dahi mat banaa!”
PS: This article shouldn’t be looked upon as my irreverence towards one of the most widely spoken and official language of this great nation; it’s only my inability to find a good Hindi teacher!