My mother tongue

| 2 MINUTE READ | on unexplored and uplifting roots

My great grandfather migrated to Bombay in 1928. The English language was what enabled my grandfather to help his family escape the grinding everyday indignities of poverty. Neither my father nor I ever learnt to read or write in our own mother tongue. As a young boy, there was a certain misplaced pride in this native inheritance of the vestiges of colonial power. In college down south, I was referred to as the boy who washed himself with the waters of the river Thames.

But India is the land of Sanatana Dharma – the eternal and universal way. For those who earnestly seek to understand the purpose of it all, it is impossible to escape it’s influence. As I rolled through the waves of my own story, this sacred ambience accumulated to fill me in a manner that was both soulful and synchronous.

Culture speaks through a multitude of branches that make civilizations endure. Their lasting resonance is borne from being nourished by the same roots from which all things arise. However disconnected I was from my own mother tongue, living in India made it inevitable for me to seek out the source of my own existence.

But every once in a while, I am reminded of the raw power of one’s own native language. It’s ability to capture the inchoate voices of the heart and return us to our own unexplored histories. On a recent trip to Goa an old Tamil song played while we drove in the dark – across a bridge spanning still backwaters. Surrounded by the thick calming ambience of tree cover. It is a tender love song about surrendering one’s heart so utterly that even the spaces where it lies lost are entirely forgotten. It moved me in an indescribable way. And reminded me of the limits of a language we use that is not our own.

Sharing a cover version of the song below. It is the magic of love and music that connects with us in ways that are transcending – taking us to places within that we may have long forsaken.

This post is dedicated to my wife Shalini, on the day of our 19th anniversary

52 thoughts on “My mother tongue

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  1. Gone through your post. Great! Great is about your respect towards mother land and culture. Happy to know a little about you through this post.
    Happy 19th Anniversary to you and your wife. God bless you both. Your quotations, writeups are all very insightful. I have high respect for those, who share their thoughts, knowledge on Sanatana Dharma. Will be in touch. You have higher knowledge. Please keep on sharing.
    If you have time then please visit my site
    https://arunsingha.in
    Regards and best wishes.
    Arun🙏😊

    Liked by 4 people

  2. ‘raw power of one’s own native language. It’s ability to capture the inchoate voices of the heart and return us to our own unexplored histories”….amazing articulation!!! Keep writing, Anand.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. You have chosen a great song penned by Variamuthu, set to music by Rahman and beautifully rendered by Unnikrishnan to declare your love for Shalini on your nineteeenth wedding anniversary. For all our comfort with and command of English, our deepest feelings manifest themselves only in our mother tongues. I still count in Tamil and break out in Tamil when tense. After all, we are the inheritors of the poetry of Nammalwar and othe Alwars, the prabandham being our treasured heritage.

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  4. Lovely sentiments, beautifully expressed.

    Early in life, I used to look at the language nationalism in Tamil Nadu and think it was a waste of time and misplaced in the modern world. Because, like you, I grew up in North India being more fluent in Hindi and its variants, and barely speaking Brahmin tamil at home. This ignoble state of affairs continued even when I began work and found myself in places like Trichy, Viralimalai and Madras. The change began when someone gave me a copy of Nilakantha Sastry’s “History of South India” and with the help of a close friend (who happens to be a Kerala Anglo Indian) I began to understand the depth and extent of the language.

    I make it a point to speak in Tamil to anyone who has a Tamil name. It is still considered “unprofessional” in this day and age to do that.

    Colonialism is all in the mind.

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  5. First of all, a very happy anniversary 🎉🎉 I couldn’t understand the meaning of song, but I could sense the feelings. I think mother tongue is the language of mother and mother remains only one.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Loved the song! Happy 19th Anniversary to dear Shalini and you! Loved the write up! Excellently, perceived! Known you since you were a kid. So proud of you! My love and respects to you and the family, special hug to prema! Jeany aunty!

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  7. Nice writeup. Happy anniversary to both of you 😊 🎉 🎉 🎉 Much love and blessings. Even though I love my mother tongue the most, many a time, during travel, I experienced communicating with people through heart beyond the barriers of language. Some ragas of songs, some music too communicate straight to the heart even though the language in unfamiliar.

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  8. A simple & small song can express what otherwise takes volumes of essays & texts. “Emotions” need an additional dimension to become complete for conveyance -ie- “The Ragam” (The Tune). This is the reason why our Rishis (Seers/Saints/Sages) chose “Shlokam” as the fundamental unit – over texts for all the “Kavyas” (Scriptures). “Tunes” can evoke any of the 9-Rasas (emotions) that humans are afflicted or effected by!

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  9. I can relate to a lot of this having been born and brought up in Shillong. Though we did have Bangla as a subject in school so I can read it but not at all fluently. And, it hits me most that I cannot read all the great books and novels written in my mother tongue.
    Also, wish you a very happy anniversary.

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  10. Wish you a very Happy Anniversary. And as always, your writing genuinely appeals, the choice of words too is perfect.

    “It’s ability to capture the inchoate voices of the heart and return us to our own unexplored histories….

    Wonderful…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A very happy anniversary to Shalini and you , Anand.May you all remain blessed.

      As usual ,your blog is really insightful and beautifully written.It is true .even I feel that this attitude of only talking in English and I hate to say it __ but if people do not speak English fluently ,we become judgemental ___ is so wrong.
      It is definitely the left over of our colonial mind set.

      Somewhere , the new generations and our generation too ,I feel has missed out __ on learning about our culture and greatness.

      .We seem to have lost touch with our source.Yes, our mother tongue gives us is a sense of belonging .

      Our culture ,our ethos is so so rich and all embracing.

      The song is so beautiful.
      I did not understand it but you can get the feel of it.

      Thanks so much for sharing.
      Stay blessed
      Mina

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Wishing you both a Very Happy Wedding Anniversary! Yes Anand Babu, you’re a born writer, enjoy every thought you put across! That was a great expression of Love towards Shalini on your 19 th Wedding Anniversary! The Tamil song too was so good, beautifully sung by the artiste!

    Talking of mother tongue ,hope I could understand Tamil as well as I can fathom Hindi , I truly missed understanding the Tamizh nuances and lyrics to the maximum.

    It was a great read along with soothing song and music.

    Love to you both, Take care

    Baby Athai

    Liked by 1 person

  12. The limits of a language not our own…So true! What a wonderful insightful beautiful post wrapped in diverse sentiments. Enjoyed every word of this piece, albeit in a ‘foreign’ language, not the mother tongue!
    Many congratulations to the wonderful couple! 💑

    Liked by 1 person

  13. ‘inchoate voices of the heart…’ you’ve certainly mastered English! Beautiful song, beautiful post. Music reaches emotions in a way just words can’t, and your native tongue, even if it’s a dialect of another, (as in Songs in a Scottish Accent) goes deep to the roots of you too.

    Thanks for sharing these wise words, and happy anniversary to you both.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. It is indeed our connection to life, to be centered by those things we love allows things to always grow, especially our hearts. And I have to thank you for showing me something so simple but very profound. All civilizations are fed by that love within them. Those era’s of the Greek’s, Roman’s etc went through many stages but once the love within each civilization is lost, it too begins to die. May we at least, even if a struggle to help it grow, find that love within us. Happy Anniversary and may that love open to you both ❤️ 🙏🏽 🦋

    Liked by 1 person

  15. The importance of our mother tongue and going back to our roots is highlighted very well in this Post. Song is melodious and the words are beautifully presented in surrendering one’s heart and aptly dedicated to Shalini. Wish you both Happy Anniversary and many more to follow.
    Bhuma

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Let me start at the end. I really enjoyed your music selection – a talented musician. I did not need to understand the language to appreciate the beauty of the song. Now to your writing – you are a gifted writer, Ananda. I truly enjoyed your personal story and your perspective about your mother tongue. Happy Anniversary to you and your wife! 💐

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Lovely post on a wedding Anniversary. And the unplugged song from Kadhalan movie rendered by Kavya Ajit is the cake for the occassion. All the Best.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Happy Anniversary Wishes to both of you! Wishing you utmost Happiness and Health together 🙌🏼
    Reading about Mumbai is nostalgic and reminds me of my father who sometimes opens up to share about his memories of old Mumbai. Beautiful thoughts on how so much sacredness is contained in ones native language, so much essence can never be aptly translated.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Congratulations Anand! Happy Anniversary to Shalini and you. Wish you many more years together. I grew up in the U.S. and could only speak English. But could understand to some extent Punjabi and Hindi. When my family moved to India, I had no choice but to learn both languages. And now feel proud that I am trilingual. Haha. It’s definitely a joy to know one’s mother tongue and be able to enjoy its rhythm, and tweak and relate to its nuances. Thanks for sharing this. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Fascinating! We are conditioned by language and its meanings. A child becomes embedded in the conditioning when they have no concept of it. I can’t rid myself of anything once it’s acquired, all I can do is notice it, yet all my conditioned reactions are tied to the process of “Bryan,” the entire bio/psycho/social/emotive process. Reactions are as much biological as cognitive. Yet I know I can dilute my conditioning by adding information and studying how others relate to life. This was a great post. Thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

  21. Beautiful post and lovely song though I don’t understand the language.
    Belated happy wedding anniversary, wishing you both many more years of togetherness with good health and wellness.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Happy Anniversary! Beautiful song!!

    I can relate to your post. My parents were in a transferrable job, we spoke ‘our’ language at home and I learnt the basics of reading and writing with my mother’s help – at best achieving a beginner’s proficiency. I often rue not being able to enjoy reading the rich literature of the language.

    But then again, I am able to understand this song precisely due to the transfers, that gave us an amazing opportunity to imbibe the languages and cultures of so many other regions of our Incredible India. Indeed, I cherish the feeling of belonging to nowhere and at the same time, belonging to everywhere.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. I will have to read this over and over to be able to grasp the richness of meaning woven in. Such a relatable piece, too. Perhaps one of my favourites from you. Happy anniversary to you and your wife 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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