There was a group of guys named Daddy 1, daddy 2 etc in the medical college. They have been studying medicine for a while and are considerably older than the ‘normal’ students. Daddy 3 has been doing medicine for well over 10 years and no one knows how he managed to get the admission. Every year he came to the college a week before the exams ( apparently, no one in his family knew that he didn’t pass medicine and he was already working as a doctor in a clinic set up by his father in their village..that was the rumour, I don’t know if that was true or not!) and his roll number was before mine. We were all waiting for our Anatomy viva and it was daddy 3’s turn. Obviously he didn’t know the answer to any of the questions and the examiner was getting frustrated with him. Finally the examiner asked : What is your mother tongue?” for which daddy 3 replied ” sir, I have never seen my mother’s tongue”
Jokes aside, today I want to talk about mother tongue. A friend, whose daughter is in the same grade as Yaya is frantically looking for an English tutor, because of poor grades. ( it doesn’t help that Yaya’s grades are better) Her daughter is very smart, but unlike primary school, teachers in high school expects a lot more from kids and her report/assignments do not reflect her intelligence.
Mother is a firm believer of cultural roots and mother tongue and insisted that they only speak their mother tongue at home and the child was taught to read and write their mother tongue at home and learned English as ESL at school even though she is born here.
None of my children speak their mother tongue. They don’t identify themselves as Indians either. I would have loved to see my daughters wearing silk pavada, lots of glass bangles in their hand and them having beautiful long hair adorned with jasmine flowers, or my son wearing kasavu mundu.. If I really wanted that, then I should have stayed back in Kerala. It would have helped them tremendously, if they knew their mother tongue and we lived in Kerala. There would never be any cultural shock for them. But what is the point in them learning their mother tongue, if they are never going to live in Kerala? How would the Continuation of language and culture benefits them? It is not a crime against humanity that my children don’t identify themselves as Malayalees.
Learning a language doesn’t give you a cultural connection. I speak fluent French and Mandarin, that doesn’t make me Chinese or French. My cousins in Mumbai only speak in Hindi. Apparently it is really fashionable among the Mumbai mallu crowd to speak only in Hindi, but they are still Hindi speaking mallus.
If you are living outside India and are raising your children there, what are the chances that your children would want to go back to India and live? Besides, you can always learn a language anytime in your life, but wouldn’t it be much easier for your children that they are proficient in English?